Rivals Symbol, Cisco Liven Up Wireless Networking Offerings

Symbol, Holtsville, N.Y., this week plans to roll out the AP300 802.11a/b/g access point and an upgrade to its WS2000 wireless switch that adds support for IPsec VPN and the Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) security protocol.

>> Symbol, Cisco are both taking the wraps off new 802.11a/b/g access points.

Jeff Lem, CEO of Qdata, a Toronto-based solution provider that carries both Cisco and Symbol products, said a Symbol offering for a main office and four branches could cost as little as $5,000 depending on configuration. A similar Cisco solution costs around $10,000, Lem said.

"[SMBs] don't have a big IT staff in the field. This is a no-brainer for a grocery or retail store with branch offices," Lem said, noting that he expects his Symbol sales to be up 70 percent this year after a 300 percent jump the preceding year.

The new Symbol WS2000 version 1.5 is priced at $999. The AP300, priced at $349, features 108-Mbps throughput, up from 11-Mbps on the older Symbol access points.

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Cisco, San Jose, Calif., is fighting back with its own trimode access points, including the new Aironet 1130AG and rugged 1230AG 802.11a/b/g dual-band access points, which cost $699 and $999, respectively.

The new access points offer data rates of up to 108 Mbps and add support for the 802.11i and WPA2 security protocols.

In addition, Cisco is integrating its Structured Wireless-Aware Network platform with wireless intrusion-detection capabilities from AirDefense. The integration enables Cisco access points to act as radio frequency scanners for an AirDefense intrusion-detection system server. In addition, AirDefense systems can be managed through a single Cisco WLAN management console.

Cisco's WLAN technology offers customers lower total cost of ownership because it integrates with Cisco's wired networking and other products, which enable solution providers to build deployments with fewer access points, said Shripati Acharya, director of product management for wireless networking at Cisco.

The new access points offer an indoor range of 100 feet at 54 Mbps for 802.11g and 80 feet for 802.11a, he said. Since the ranges for the two modes are so similar, solution providers do not have to perform separate site surveys for each mode, easing deployments, he said.