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Wireless LAN Switch Startup Raises $8 Million

MANHASSET, N.Y. — Wireless LAN (WLAN) switch startup Extricom Ltd. received $8 million in second-round funding for a "breakaway architecture" that it claims can eliminate the coverage and capacity limitations of traditional WLAN architectures, as well as the need for cell-planning and site surveys.

Based in Herzlia, Israel, the company will use the funds to accelerate the penetration of its WLAN products into the North American and AsiaPAC markets. Those markets are already being hotly contested by startups such as Trapeze Networks, Aruba, Airespace and Chantry, as well as networking incumbents Cisco, Nortel, Foundry, Extreme, Proxim and Symbol, all of which have announced their version of what a WLAN switch should look like.

The views fall into two camps: One side proposes that the media access control (MAC) be split between the access point and the switch, the other believes the MAC should be kept intact. The rift between the two camps has stirred concerns of equipment incompatibility, leading to higher costs for end customers. To resolve the issue, the companies came together under the Control and Provisioning and Wireless Access Points (CAPWAP) working group, which was formed as part of Operations and Management Area of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

After spending over a year developing a problem statement and taxonomy of WLAN architectures to fulfill its original charter obligations, the Capwap group was last week formally rechartered by the IETF. It will now build upon the original charter and develop a Capwap protocol to provide interoperability among WLAN backend architectures.

For its part, Extricom is pushing a split-MAC approach that confines the intelligence to the wireless switch, "thus enabling the use of lower-cost, ultra-thin, and ultra-secure access points," it said. It is using a per-packet adaptive architecture and efficient channel reuse to raise performance such that the network operates at the full modem speed—regardless of user location or the RF environment.

This second round of funding follows a $3 million first round and was led by Vertex Venture Capital.