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Nortel Reveals Vision For 'Unwired Enterprise'

Instead of an overlay, access point or router, Nortel said it will integrate WLAN functionality directly with the Ethernet switch.

Nortel Networks, a top maker of telecom equipment, on Tuesday unveiled its vision for the "Unwired Enterprise," which involves creating completely wireless office environments.

Nortel said it will bring to market next-generation wireless local area network (WLAN) products based on the 802.11n draft specification once it's ratified as a standard sometime in the second half of 2008. The standard is designed to better handle bandwidth-hungry applications like video and voice over IP.

"Right now we're pretty far away for true voice or video over WLANs. But that's what we're trying to achieve with our next-gen solutions," said Jake Power, director of product marketing at Nortel, in an interview.

By 2011, 100% of wireless access points used in enterprise deployments are expected to be based on 802.11n, according to research firm Dell'Oro Group.

Nortel's new products -- a combination of hardware and software -- will include WLAN and "mesh" systems that offer speeds of up to 600 Mbps, switches and routers with embedded wireless functionality, and a unified network management platform. Mesh systems provide network coverage through a blanket of wireless access points, typically over larger areas.

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