Netgear announces new SMB wireless network controllers

New controllers offer enterprise-based features to small businesses

Today, Netgear announced three new wireless network controller offerings that take some of the network management features of their enterprise products into the small-to-medium business market, including mass firmware upgrades, centralized configuration options, and load-balancing, for networks from five to 1500 users.

All of these products are targeted at outfits with different network needs and IT resources--whether you've got a dedicated IT department or a guy who "knows about computers," configuring the advanced features for a small-business is relatively easy.

First up is the ProSafe 5-AP Wireless Management Software (WMS105), which is aimed at networks between five and 50 users and doesn't require much in the way of specialized networking experience to set up. The WMS105 lets you automatically detect and configure up to five supported Netgear 802.11g/Wireless-N routers on your network at the same time, and doesn't require any specialized training; if you can configure one of their routers, you should be able to use their Wireless Management Software. The WMS105 will cost US$50 and is due for a May release.

Administrators of networks with 50 to 200 users, on the other hand, will probably opt for the ProSafe 16-AP Wireless Management System (WMS5316), which allows you to manage up to 16 wireless access points and includes features typically found in enterprise-class wireless controllers. In addition to the simultaneous configuration options, the WMS5316 includes additional features to ensure your wireless access is smooth and safe, such as load-balancing among your access points and rogue access point detection. The WMS5316 is listed at US$910 and will be available in March.

If that's still not big enough, networks between 200-1500 users can choose the ProSafe 20-AP Wireless Controller (WC7520), which supports 20 APs but can be expanded up to 50 APs on a single unit for an additional license cost, and can be stacked up to three controllers (150 APs) on a single network. Besides the extra capacity, the WC7520 supports fast roaming (so you can move across multiple APs without losing your signal) and SpectraLink Voice over Wi-Fi Quality of Service compliance. The 20-AP WC7520 will be released in July to the tune of US$6,280, while each 10-AP incremental upgrade will cost an additional US$4,200.

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