Assimilating WiFi

Symbol unveiled a new wireless LAN access point and switch combo that’s the way of the future (Symbol wireless switch to centralize control of WLANs)

SYMBOL TECHNOLOGIES UNVEILED this week an intelligent wireless LAN switch that may herald a change in how IEEE 802.11x networks are configured and managed.

The Mobius Wireless System, which Symbol claims is the first of its kind, includes the Axon Wireless Switch and Access Ports, rather than Access Points.

The Symbol access ports will use power over Ethernet and contain only an omnidirectional antenna and a radio chip, according to Ray Martino, vice president of network products at Symbol in Holtsville, N.Y.

“There’s not much more in a port than you find in a NIC card,” Martino said.

The Linux-based switch will support IEEE 802.11b, 802.11a and 802.11g and comes in a 1-U rack-mount design.

Management features include class of service, quality of service, and switched Virtual LAN support.

The two key elements are dumb and cheap access points that are little more than antennas, and a smart box running Linux that does all the hard stuff, including authentication, encryption, and routing. Symbol won’t do well with this product because customers want to buy their switches from companies like Cisco and Juniper who know how to build them.

WiFi News says this is a dominant trend:

Several other companies have similar solutions with a different mix of options, including Cisco, Proxim, and Sputnik. Look for more comprehensive information in a few weeks.

Oddly, their low-cost competitors don’t see the value of this approach, or of WiFi itself in many cases. They’ll lose.