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Mobile and Wireless

Equipment and Installation

Don't be tempted to pick up a consumer-grade AP special. You'll give up any reasonable warranty and support, as well as enterprise features such as PoE (Power over Ethernet) and variable power output. Gateway's 7001 series of APs, which includes support for 802.1X authentication and a built-in RADIUS server, is a great deal. It's priced at $299 and $399 for 802.11b/g and 802.11a/b/g service, respectively. Dell sells the TruMobile 1170--a rebranded Orinico AP-2000 from Proxim--with 802.11b/g support for $350. Both offerings are bargains compared with a fully loaded Cisco Systems 1200 with trimode support (a/b/g), which retails for $1,295.

No matter what, you'll need IEEE 802.11b support on APs and wireless cards. Working in the 2.4-GHz ISM band to provide access rates up to 11 Mbps, 802.11b is the most common wireless standard. If you get an AP or card that supports only 802.11a, you'll isolate users. PoE support distinguishes enterprise-class APs from consumer-class ones. Fortunately, most new APs support the PoE IEEE 802.3af standard--older APs are either prestandard or don't support PoE at all. Case in point: Gateway's 7001 series has it; Dell's TruMobile 1170 doesn't.

Few wired Ethernet switches include in-line PoE as a basic feature, so to avoid the cost of a replacement switch or installing electrical outlets, consider obtaining a single-port midspan power injector such as the $99 PowerDsine 6001; multiport versions are also available.

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