Cisco unveils secure teleworker products

Home access point offering comes with dual 5-GHz and 2.4-GHz bands and works at 500Mbit/sec 802.11n speeds

Cisco today unveiled a home office wireless LAN access point along with other wireless gear aimed at helping corporations securely connect teleworkers to corporate networks.

Sylvia Hooks, senior manager of mobility marketing, called the new $419 AP offering unique in that it runs over two bands instead of one.

Using two bands, a teleworker's data can travel uninterrupted over the 5-GHz channel, while home-based family systems and devices can work over the 2.4-GHz band, she noted.

The new AP, called the Aironet 600 Series Office Extend, works at fast 802.11n speeds.

Cisco also announced a 2500 Series wireless LAN controller for office data centers at companies that use the home AP. The controller is priced from $2,495.

Also, the company added a Wireless Controller module for the Integrated Service Router, priced at $1,195, and a $29,995 Wireless Services Module for the Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series switch.

All four products are expected to be available in May.

The high-end Wireless Service Module device supports up to 500 corporate and teleworking APs, while the 2500 Series and Wireless Controller module can support up to 50 APs that serve 500 client devices.

The products are designed to be "no hassle for the teleworker," Hooks said, with the home AP requiring only a simple plug-in. Home users get the same quality of service and security of corporate LANs, she added.

Analysts said that with the expected growth in telecommuting, the products make sense for Cisco as it moves to round out its selection of wireless LAN offerings.

Aruba Networks has a similar solution, they noted.

"Cisco has more than half the market share in wireless LAN products," said Craig Mathias, a consultant at Farpoint Group. "They are the 800-pound gorilla.

"This set of products helps people work out of their homes, which is good for the environment and good for helping people with time management," he added.

Rohit Mehra, an analyst at IDC, said that IT managers want a secure means for home workers in all kinds of businesses to be able to connect to corporate data securely.

Cisco, Mehra added, has also created the products to be "a simple, easy-setup solution for network access from the home. IT wants this kind of a solution as it extends IT's control of this segment of the network."

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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