Wi-Fi Players Target Cisco

Plans call for the out-of-box solution, unveiled last week at WiFi Planet in San Jose, Calif., to use Netgear's ProSafe line of access points (APs),embedded with Propagate's AutoCell self-organizing radio software and managed by Bluesocket's Wireless Gateways,to handle and secure wireless LANs. Other WLAN vendors, including ReefEdge and Chantry Networks, also announced similar alliances with Propagate.

The vendors said the joint solutions can cut the cost of installing and maintaining a typical enterprise WLAN by up to 70 percent. Though total solution pricing hasn't yet been set, the new APs would cost about one-third less than Cisco APs, said Paul Callahan, co-founder and vice president of marketing and business development at Propagate, Acton, Mass.

Cisco's 802.11g Aironet 1100 and 1200 APs list for $599 and $899, respectively. Cisco's WLAN Solution Engine (WLSE) 2.5, which provides air/radio frequency device management tools, is priced at $8,495 and can scale up to 2,500 APs.

"If you have too many point solutions pulled together, many times it won't work out the way you intend," said Pej Roshan, WLAN security and management product line manager at Cisco. "So we've focused on the end-to-end solution."

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Francis Rabuck, president of Rabuck Associates, a Philadelphia-based wireless solution provider, said Netgear has proved the quality of its products, but he's not yet sold on the new solution. "So if an AP goes down, will the AutoCell reconfigure itself?" Rabuck said. "Can it even be done? Maybe."

Kevin Allan, director of WLANs at Netgear, Santa Clara, Calif., said the partnerships present new opportunities in the enterprise space, but Netgear's main target remains the 250-user environment.