Intel has developed several products designed to help accelerate the deployment of wireless local area networking based on the 802.11 wireless specification.
Intel’s PRO/Wireless 5000 LAN family of products includes a network access point (or base station) and adapters for notebook and desktop PCs. The devices are based on the 802.11a specification and offer data rates that are five times faster than previous wireless LAN products (transferring up to 54 million bits of information per second).
In addition, the company has introduced utility software to enable easier configuration and management of wireless networks and unveiled enhancements to its existing wireless LAN products.
The primary difference between the 802.11a and 802.11b specifications is speed. 802.11a products transmit and receive data at speeds up to 54 Mbps, five times faster than 802.11b products, which operate up to 11 Mbps. Also, because 802.11a products operate in the 5.2 GHz radio frequency band, interference is eliminated with wireless technologies operating in the 2.4 GHz radio frequency band, such as Bluetooth products, HomeRF products, 802.11b products, some cordless phones, and microwave ovens.
At 54 Mbps, the Intel PRO/Wireless 5000 LAN products will provide sufficient performance for the simultaneous use of many bandwidth intensive applications such as video and audio conferencing, data mining and large file transfers. In addition, 802.11a access points are able to support up to eight channels, allowing eight access points in the same area to combine bandwidth and provide a shared 432 Mbps of bandwidth.
For organisations that have already deployed 802.11b wireless networks, or anticipate maintaining a network supporting both wireless LAN technologies, Intel will offer an optional, dual-mode expansion kit enabling access points to service both 802.11a and 802.11b networks.
Designed for small and medium enterprises, the new family will ship with Installation Wizard software for easy setup and includes the PRO/Wireless 5000 LAN Access Point, the PRO/Wireless 5000 LAN CardBus Adapter for notebook PCs, the PRO/Wireless 5000 LAN PCI Adapter for desktop PCs and the PRO/Wireless 5000 LAN 3A Mini PCI Adapter for embedded solutions.
Intel has also extended its PROSet software, which already ships with Intel’s wired Ethernet connections, to support the PRO/Wireless LAN family of products. The PROSet software is a single utility enabling the configuration and management of both wired and wireless Ethernet connections. The software includes the PRO/Wireless Adapter Switching software and advanced profile, power and network management tools to help network administrators reduce training costs and simplify deployments.
The Adapter Switching software, developed by Intel Labs, enables mobile users to easily switch between wired and wireless network connections without reconfiguring the PC. The software automatically reconfigures the system to accommodate the connection type and will also automatically detect and adjust the connection, without requiring a reboot, when roaming between wireless networks on different subnets. The new software provides switching and roaming capabilities for PCs running Microsoft Windows ME, Windows 98, Windows 98SE and Windows 2000.
Intel has also announced an enhanced line of wireless LAN products based on the IEEE 802.11b specification. In addition to improving overall performance of its existing PRO/Wireless 2011 LAN PC Card and PRO/Wireless 2011 LAN Access Point, Intel expanded the line to include Universal Serial Bus (USB) and PCI Adapter versions.
Intel’s 802.11a-based products will begin shipping in volume in November. The suggested list prices for the PRO/Wireless 5000 LAN CardBus Adapter, the PRO/Wireless 5000 LAN Access Point and the PRO/Wireless 5000 LAN PCI Adapter are $179, $449, and $229 respectively.
Intel’s enhanced 802.11b-based wireless LAN products are now shipping. The suggested list price for the PRO/Wireless 2011B LAN PC Card, the Intel PRO/Wireless 2011B LAN Access Point, the PRO/Wireless 2011B LAN USB Device and the PRO/Wireless 2011B LAN PCI Adapter are $149, $699, $169, and $199, respectively.