Trapeze Networks is set to unveil an updated version of its wireless LAN switch software to offer what it clams is improved security and performance.

The software runs on Trapeze's Mobility Exchange WLAN switch (reviewed here). One important addition is a protocol that lets the company's streamlined Mobility Points access points seek out the switch over a corporate IP net. In the past, the Mobility Points connected directly to the switch. This ability was promised by Trapeze last month, despite announcing thirty percent staff cuts. Linking to remote access points is a feature offered by competitors such as the newly launched products from Legra.

The latest release also includes code for working with clients that run either Wi-Fi Protected Access or the Advanced Encryption System. WPA is an early release of key parts of the IEEE 802.11i security specification and it is supported by the WLAN industry. It is designed to correct key weaknesses in the native 802.11 encryption scheme. AES will be the mandated encryption scheme when 11i is ratified in 2004, but it is already being deployed where users want the highest level of crypto protection.

Trapeze's switch now lets administrators require the use of a specific type of encryption on wireless clients and blocks connections if the switch detects that a different scheme is being used.

Another new feature lets net managers designate specific Trapeze Mobility Points as full-time, dedicated "sentry" access points. These sentries act as continuous radio frequency monitors scanning for unauthorised access points or users on the network, but they don't handle user traffic. Previously, the Trapeze access points could be scheduled, in effect, to pause briefly in their standard operations and do a quick scan, reporting findings back to the switch.

The Mobility Points use a radio chipset that can handle either 2.4 or 5 GHz signaling, set centrally from the switch. The latest software release lets the access points, including those chosen as sentries, to scan and monitor all the channels in either of these two frequency bands.

Another improvement is the ability for the access points and switch to balance WLAN traffic over a group of access points.

An accompanying release of Trapeze's RingMaster application, which lets managers configure and manage all Mobility Points and the Mobility Exchange, is now available on the Solaris and Linux operating systems. The previous release ran on Windows XP and Windows 2000.

The new software release is available now, as an upgrade for existing Trapeze customers, and as the default software on new switch purchases.