Business WLAN vendor Airespace has updated its product to include new access points for remote offices controlled by a central switch. There is also a new version of its software, which can locate wireless devices to within 10m, and gives tighter control of "rogue" devices.

Airespace's offering, the 1200R Remote Edge Access Point (REAP) operates as a remote node on the enterprise net, downloading all the settings and configurations it needs from a central Airespace switch and sets itself up. It uses a version of Airespace's LWAPP protocol designed for lower bandwidth WAN links, such as DSL lines. "If the WAN goes down, the access point will work locally," he said.

Other vendors, such as ReefEdge have taken the approach of making lower-cost wireless switches for remote offices, but a remote managed access point is more cost-effective, and more controlled than a standard access point, said Cohen. The 1200R costs $750 in the US.

Version 2.0 of Airespace's switch operating system, AireOS, lets access points track the location of other WLAN radios, such as client NICs and rogue (unauthorised) access points, to an accuracy of 10m. This is less accurate than some other Wi-Fi location products, but requires no extra access points or specialised air monitors. The software now lets administrators find specific users - or pieces of equipment with Wi-Fi monitors placed on them.

"We use RF fingerprinting, to map the characteristics of the building," said Alan Cohen, marketing vice president for Airespace. This limits confusion by effects such as echos from walls and makes the location feature possible, he explained.

The latest generation of products from all enterprise Wi-Fi vendors are stressing the ability to manage access points across the network: first generation products were limited to controlling access points that were directly connected, so users would need wireless switches in every location and on every floor of a building. Most are now able to connect across the LAN (Trapeze announced its remote control access point earlier this month), and wide area links could be the next area of competition.

"Prevention" mode, where the IT manager who is not using Wi-Fi buys a wireless system to spot any unauthorised devices, continues to be a point of argument amongst the Wi-Fi vendors. "We sell that at a discount," said Cohen. "Users get a twelve port system for $5795, instead of the full $7500. They can upgrade to the full service later."

But the biggest bone of contention may turn out to be how many systems the vendors have actually sold. "We have shipped 500 switches, and 5000 access points," said Cohen. "There's a debate now, where some vendors are saying that enterprises are not adopting. We don't see that." Airespace's customers include Pacific Stock Exchange, Fidelity, Documentum and Oracle.