3Com Adds Wireless Products

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3Com unveiled two wireless access points on Thursday that provide convenience for small businesses and increased security for larger businesses.

The Access Point 2000, targeted at small offices, and the Access Point 8000, for larger enterprises, operate on the 802.11b standard at speeds up to 11 Mbps. Both products are set to ship in February.

3Com announced the products at its partner summit in Las Vegas.

The Access Point 2000 can be easily installed by plugging it into a power source and a wired LAN, according to 3Com. The access point automatically configures itself and selects the clearest channel to operate on, says Gilles Ganault, 3Com's products manager for LAN infrastructure products.

It has standard state-of-the-art security features that include 40-bit wired equivalent privacy and 128-bit shared key encryption. It sells for $229.

The Access Point 8000 provides standard security features as well as enhanced protection because it meets the new 802.1x standard that provides for user authentication. When deployed with the 3Com 11-Mbps wireless LAN PC card, it offers dynamic security, which mean encryption keys will be changed every session per user, Ganault says.

The access point 8000 security features are compatible with RADIUS servers from any vendor. It also supports Windows XP and any legacy Windows operating system. It sells for $899.

Tim McNicoll, a systems consultant with Heartland Business Systems, a solution provider in Little Chute, Wis., says the AP 8000 is a nice step up from the AP 6000, an access point for small and medium businesses that 3Com released last year.

Enhanced security will help it sell, McNicoll says.

"Security is always a concern, and if we can offer more security that's one more feature," he says.

McNicoll says the AP 2000 will be appropriate to sell to low-end small and medium businesses just getting into wireless.

"There's definitely a spot for it," he says.

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