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Cisco Introduces Sleek, Secure Wireless Access Points for Small Businesses

Extend the reach and speed of your wireless network

A small business makes big demands on its wireless network. It must be fast, so users never have to wait to connect to the local network or the Internet. The wireless network also needs to be able to run the demanding new communications applications that small businesses now rely on. It must even provide a blanket of reliable Wi-Fi coverage within the building premises so that users don’t have to be tied to their desks. And for a small business, high performance isn’t enough—because many smaller companies don’t have on-site IT staff, wireless access points (WAPs) must not only be easy to use and set up, but should also secure their network. The only way to meet these demands is with modern Wireless-N access points that are designed for the small business.

A wireless network may include one or many access points, depending on the size, number of users, and configuration of the small business office or facility. A WAP has a limited range for its signal; an 802.11b or 802.11g AP’s range is about 120 feet indoors, while an 802.11n AP’s range is closer to 230 feet. With a Wireless-N access point, you can extend the AP’s coverage beyond its limited range into other rooms and provide reliable wireless connectivity to wireless devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops. This post describes ways to improve your network’s wireless connectivity, including the best places to install a WAP.

A WAP is a critical part of any wireless network, so you should choose one with care. Look for one that not only fits into your existing network, but also supports your plans for the future. For example, a modern WAP will support an 802.11n network and be backwards-compatible with older 802.11b and 802.11g devices. It should also have built-in support for IPv6, the next-generation Internet protocol. A WAP should also be fast enough to easily run data-hungry applications like VoIP (voice over IP) and streaming video, and it should offer advanced security features to help protect your wireless network.

Cisco recently released two new WAPs that meet the unique requirements of small businesses. The Cisco WAP121 Wireless-N Access Point with PoE and the Cisco WAP321 Wireless-N Selectable-band Access Point with PoE are built to provide secure and reliable wireless coverage in even the most demanding small business environment, and they offer a wide range of easy-to-use features.

Both new WAPs use Wireless-N technology to provide higher speeds and greater coverage over the 802.11b and 802.11g standards. They have PoE (Power over Ethernet) ports, so they can be plugged directly into a wired Ethernet network instead of an electrical outlet that reduces installation costs and allows you to easily expand your network. These WAPs come either with a Fast Ethernet (WAP121) or Gigabit Ethernet (WAP321) interface that provides high-speed connectivity for downloading large files, streaming videos, or making voice calls over the network. They also have intelligent quality of service (QoS) that prioritizes network traffic to keep critical network applications running at top performance. The Cisco WAP321 can operate in either the 2.4 GHz or the 5 GHz band; it lets you switch bands to minimize interference from other office devices and improve performance. Cisco WAP321 also has a “captive portal” feature, which provides highly secure wireless connectivity for guests and visitors.

Both the WAP121 and the WAP321 are simple to install and easy to use by non-technical people. They work right out of the box with intuitive web-based configuration tools and wizards. They also include robust security features to protect your wireless network from attackers. They use advanced security standards and encryption protocols to keep unauthorized users out and to detect rogue access points trying to piggyback on your network.

Wireless networks have become something of a de facto standard for small companies—everyone expects to connect to the network and the Internet from any device, no matter where they are. A modern WAP helps companies provide this kind of ubiquitous connectivity while also keeping their network assets safe and secure from hackers. Just as importantly, a new standards-based WAP helps prep your network for future growth.

What kinds of features do you need in a wireless access point?

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