802.11n Wares From Netgear Target SMB VARs

WiFi LogoWireless networking vendor Netgear Inc. is debuting a streamlined and more secure 802.11n access point with attractive features for solution providers looking to upgrade their smaller business customers from existing 802.11g WiFi.

Netgear’s ProSAFE Single-Band Wireless-N Access Point comes at an opportune time for the channel, which is seeing clients’ legacy systems stressed by the bandwidth demands of media, voice, video and data, and struggling to support the rapid increase in the number of traditional and mobile devices — problems 802.11n addresses specifically.

The new device, model number WN203, runs 802.11n in the .4 GHz band with up to 300 Mbps throughput speeds, 15 times faster than 802.11g. A major part of its attractiveness comes from the WN203’s enterprise-grade wireless security with 802.1x and Radius servers, layer 2 VLAN for added security and multiple SSIDs for traffic segmentation.

The 802.11n device also boasts 10 times the coverage of g-based units and comes with Power over Ethernet (PoE) for flexible deployment, an external antenna option and a standalone configuration for easy setup. The devices are available for a suggested retail price of $145 per access point. The new 802.11n devices are available to end users through PowerSHIFT partners and authorized Netgear resellers.

“Small business owners and their VARs know they need to upgrade their networks from 802.11g wireless, but they generally do so incrementally, in a more conservative manner than larger enterprises. They look for a reliable and affordable solution, which is where the WN203 and 802.11n comes in,” said Thomas Cheng, senior product line manager for Netgear business wireless products. “Whether it’s an office with 5 employees or a 50-room motel, the WN203 enables the customer to expand and upgrade a wireless network quickly and easily, adding access points when and where needed, and at a price that’s easy on the bottom line.”

From a channel perspective, the Neatgear devices are well-suited to real-world situations. Consider a small business office where one or two WN203 access points couple be used to connect five to 10 employees using 10-20 wireless laptops, tablets or smartphones for e-mail and Web surfing with the added speed and range of an 802.11n network. The WN203’s PoE capabilities along with WPA pre-shared key, MAC address filtering, and single and secured SSID provide more flexibility and security than most existing gear.

For a more specialized approach, consider a smaller medical or dental clinic where three to five WN203s could support 20-50 wireless devices like laptops, smartphones, printers and medical equipment, all with enough speed and  security to allow routine e-mail and Web surfing as well as access to sensitive patient records and medical apps.

In the small to midsized hotel scenario mentioned by Cheng, five to 10 of the new access points could support 30 to 150 laptops and smartphones connecting to the 802.11n network for basic e-mail and Web access, and the devices’ support for open access with a Web page redirect for guests, multiple SSIDs for staff and guests, and an interface with the hotel billing system make the WN203s a decent fit for the business.

Matthew Hill, director and technician with Restech IT in Newcastle, Australia, said his firm’s experience with the Netgear ProSAFE WN203 802.11n access points was “unbelievably simple and flawless.”

“The device literally took five minutes to set up and add to an existing network,” said Hill. “Products like this make our lives easier. All of the features worked as expected and on many occasions outperformed expectations. Restech IT would definitely use these devices with our clients and recommend them elsewhere.”