March 31, 2003, 9:28 AM — The ability to roam around an office while continuously connected to a wireless LAN will be extended across whole buildings and campuses with a set of products Nortel Networks Corp. announced Monday.
The company will ship in June a network switch that can handle as many as 500 secure wireless LAN connections across multiple access points. That platform will be at the heart of a broad set of wireless LAN offerings called the Nortel Networks WLAN 2200 line, designed for carrier hotspot deployments as well as enterprises.
As more enterprises make wide use of wireless LANs, integrating them with the overall network will be increasingly important, according to some industry analysts. Many vendors are getting ready to roll out systems that can centralize security and management of wireless LANs, they said.
The Nortel switch, called the Nortel Networks WLAN - Security Switch 2250, is at the center of a lineup that will include access points, clients and technology for mobile IP (Internet Protocol) phone calls.
The switch is designed to manage and control secure access to a wireless LAN infrastructure that may consist of many access points on different floors and in several buildings. It will let users continue a network session as they carry a notebook PC or other device around a building or campus, and keep all the same network privileges, said Anthony Bartolo, director of product marketing for wireless LAN solutions at Nortel, which is based in Brampton, Ontario. A roaming user's connection will stay up even if the network has been divided into different subnetworks for each floor or building, a move many administrators make for ease of management, Bartolo said.
Through user authentication functions and encryption technologies such as IPSec (Internet Protocol Security) and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) the switch can make sure only the right users get on the network and that their communications are protected, Bartolo said. It can also hand off some functions to Nortel's Contivity security gear in enterprises that are already using that equipment.
The switch can carry 200M bps (bits per second) of encrypted traffic and can handle 500 users at a time. For more users, enterprises can set up multiple 2250 switches, and those switches can balance the load among them. It can be used with any vendor's standard wireless LAN. It will ship June 30 with a list price between US$6,000 and $7,000.