Trapeze Networks has given its wireless LAN switch the ability to support multiple virtual wireless networks, that cater to different applications and different groups of users. This and other features in version 3 of its WLAN management software should keep it on the radar until real sales numbers start to show its success with users, the company said.

Version 3 of Trapeze's Mobility System wireless LAN management software can handle up to 32 virtual APs per radio, (that makes 64 virtual networks per access point box). It also includes a web interface for users to get onto services (allowing targetted adverts in public hotspots) and a handy application to let non-IT staff administer guest access to corporate WLANs.

Virtual access points have been available for some timefrom vendors including Cisco Symbol, but none of them allow so many logical networks on a single set of access points, says Bruce van Nice, vice president of marketing for Trapeze. Previous versions of Mobility System only allowed two logical networks.

The system is implemented with multiple BSSIDs, (basic service set identifiers, the MAC address of Wi-Fi) to comply fully with the IEEE 802.11 standard, said van Nice (rival Symbol has warned that some vendors do not comply).

The admin application should lift a load off IT departments, by letting receptionists, or other non-IT staff, give out guest passwords for wireless access to the guest VLAN, which lets them use the Internet but keeps corporate servers safe.

Despite a strong marketing presence, Trapeze has yet to figure in WLAN switch market share calculations from analysts. This is because the company has yet to report figures, said van Nice, predicting that sales through its OEM partner, 3Com, would bring it onto the number-crunchers' radar this quarter. "We expect to do healthy business with 3Com," said van Nice.

Long-term, 3Com is believed to be looking at porting Trapeze's wireless management software onto its general switches, but a 3Com spokesman would not comment specifically: "Our agreement with Trapeze is only for this particular product," said Darragh Richardson, head of marketing for the UK and Ireland at 3Com."In future we will use whichever bits of the technology make most sense to us."

John Cox, Network World, contributed to this report