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7/31/2006
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Linksys Releases Wireless-N For Small Businesses

The local area network product line uses the 802.11n wireless draft specification, designed to better handle bandwidth-hungry apps like video and VoIP. Still, there's no assurance they'll work with other products using that spec.

Linksys is making another attempt to lure small businesses with a second launch of networking products designed for that market in a week.

Linksys has developed a small-business version of its consumer-oriented Wireless-N local-area networking product line. It uses the 802.11n wireless draft specification, designed to better handle bandwidth hungry apps like video and voice over IP. The lineup includes an access point, a security router with a VPN, and a CardBus adapter for laptops.

The standard used by Wireless-N offers much longer ranges and higher throughput than products based on the 802.11g standard. Businesses could wirelessly cover their offices without encountering dead spots, giving employees the freedom to work outside their offices, says Linksys, a division of Cisco.

The access point and laptop adapter are priced at $169 and $129. The wireless router will be available in September for $229, and includes security features such as an intrusion-prevention system, client authentication, and stronger encryption for protecting confidential company data in transport.

Late last week Linksys added two new VPN routers to its Small Business Series line. Linksys says the new routers are designed to answer the increasingly complex networking and security needs of small businesses. For instance, one of the routers comes with Internet Protocol filtering to protect companies' networks against denial of service attacks.

Linksys' Wireless-N products hold the most promise for improved bandwidth and range, but there's no assurance that its first offerings will work with other 802.11n products. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers agreed on a proposal for the standard in January, but the Wi-Fi Alliance, the group responsible for certifying equipment based on the standard, hasn't developed an interoperability testing program. The IEEE is expected to ratify 802.11n in about a year. Neither Linksys nor its competitors can guarantee their early products will be upgradeable to support the final standard.

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