AirMagnet rolls out 802.11a/b network analyzer

On Tuesday, AirMagnet Inc., based in Mountain View, Calif., will announce a dual-band 802.11a/b wireless network analyzer and assessment tool for laptops.

The AirMagnet Duo Wireless Laptop Analyzer is a wireless administration tool for deployment, intrusion detection, site survey, performance analysis, and connection trouble-shooting.

The product was developed for laptops rather than handhelds chiefly because the network analyzer card requires CardBus technology and handhelds currently only support the slower PCMCIA bus, according to Dean Au, co-founder and president. In addition, in order to display both a full IEEE 802.11a and 802.11b environment simultaneously, a larger screen is required.

However, Au said Broadcom Corp. is developing a CardBus product for handhelds. AirMagnet is also working with technology companies to design a PCMCIA version of its product. AirMagnet will offer the Duo product on handhelds when available.

The AirMagnet product is unique because it can assess network strength, reallocate channels, troubleshoot and detect rogue access points on both .11a and .11b networks simultaneously.

“There is a significant saving of time. In a mixed mode environment you would have to do a site survey twice,” said Chia-Chee Kuan, AirMagnet co-founder, CTO, and vice president of engineering.

As dual-mode networks such as .11a and .11b or .11a and .11g get deployed, there will be some unanticipated consequences, said Kuan.

“The a/b combo card is constantly searching for the best connection. The client card is switching hundreds of times during the hour and during that time it is not working,” Kuan said.

A user will never see the so-called threshing behavior in which a card jumps back and forth from a to b. Using the AirMagnet’s analyzer, a network administrator could spot the problem and tune down one of the access points.

Network administrators will also face additional headaches as .11g or dual-mode .11a/g products hit the market.

“A and B tools won’t see G access points; the a/b tools won’t have full compatibility with .11g,” said Kuan.

The AirMagnet Duo analyzer is available now and is priced at US$3,495 with a NeatGear Inc. 802.11a/b adaper card.

In related Wi-Fi news, Wyse Technology Corp., based in San Jose, Calif., announced the Winterm 3820TX, what it called the first wireless thin client in a tablet form factor. The Winterms include both Microsoft Terminal Server and Citrix ICA protocols embedded.

The tablet weighs 3.5 pounds, uses IEEE 802.11b, runs on Windows CE 3.0 OS, and includes 32MB of RAM, a 12.1-inch LCD touch screen, and an optional eight-hour battery. The units will be available later this month and pricing will start at $1,499.