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Trapeze Upgrades WLAN Switch

Manhasset, N.Y. - Trapeze Networks Inc. will announce an upgrade today to its Mobility System Software that will let networks deliver stratified public and private wireless-LAN services over a single infrastructure. The announcement follows a flurry of activity in WLANs, as startups and incumbents jockey for position amid fears of a pending shakeout.

Those fears are well-founded. A shakeout over the past two years has left Atheros Communications Inc. and IceFyre Semiconductor Inc. as the two remaining North American WLAN-only chip vendors. Now the epidemic is moving up the chain to box and appliance vendors. AirFlow Networks and Legra Systems are victims, and many in the industry believe it won't stop there.

The worries have lit a fire under some suppliers. Last week, Aruba Wireless Networks revealed it was expanding its WLAN security offering into wired networks, which it said can be just as vulnerable as wireless ones. And Symbol Technologies Inc. introduced its next-generation WS 2000 enterprise wireless switch and AP 300 802.11a/b/g wireless access port for branch offices and small and midsize businesses.

One effect of the glut of WLAN switch vendors is the difficulty in differentiating among them. Many offer similar features, or soon add features missing from the initial rollout. That's the case with Trapeze's announcement of a client/service stratification feature, which has already been implemented in various forms by other vendors.

Trapeze's Virtual Service Sets allows both public and private WLAN services over a single infrastructure to different constituencies while securing and isolating each group's traffic and controlling where the users roam and the resources they use. Another addition is Web Services for Wireless, a package of browser-based services for authenticating users and precisely regulating their access to network resources. Finally, a Guest Provisioning Application simplifies visitor access to a wireless network. These capabilities target mixed-use environments, such as airports and multitenant properties.