Proxim launches products amid acquisition

Despite the recently announced US$21 million sale of its assets to Moseley Associates, Proxim intends to introduce an appliance this week that brings its product line in sync with centralized wireless LAN management architectures.

It will also announce technical migration and trade-in programs for its existing customers and a wireless mesh protocol for its AP-4000 intelligent access points.

Proxim also says its OEM relationship with Avaya and its three-way development partnership with Motorola and Avaya for a voice-centric LAN-WAN roaming environment, remain intact. For example, the long-coming Motorola CN620 Wi-Fi/GSM handset with enterprise-to-cellular roaming capabilities - a key component of the system - is likely to ship soon, says Proxim Vice President of Marketing Susan Trout.

"We're still actively engaged," she says. "There was going to be a summer 2005 release [of the CN620] and we're feverishly working on getting those schedules reset. The handset delay shouldn't be significant."

Just a few short years ago, Proxim was the No. 2 enterprise WLAN vendor behind Cisco in terms of market share. But its share of the pie shrank by nearly half between 2003 and 2004, according to Synergy Research Group, and first-quarter 2005 sales indicate that Proxim's share was on track to drop by half again this year.

Aaron Vance, senior analyst at the research firm, attributes the decline to Proxim's struggle to get its balance sheet in order after its merger with wireless bridging and backhaul company Western Multiplex, and the acquisition of Agere's Orinoco Wi-Fi products, both in 2002, as well as "from not having a centralized [Wi-Fi] architecture to offer."

However, that last problem will soon evaporate. Proxim, which will become a subsidiary of Moseley Associates, will announce this week the US$2,999 Orinoco Smart Wireless Controller. The controller works with the company's intelligent AP-4000s for scalability in large networks, says Evan Parker, Proxim product marketing manager. It will enable roaming among virtual LANs and subnets for both IP and other Layer 3 protocols, including legacy protocols such as Novell IPX and proprietary protocols, he says.

He explains that the dual-Ethernet appliance, which supports 128 APs without redundancy and 64 in a redundant configuration, is that it will tunnel traffic directly between APs rather than bottlenecking traffic through a controller or switch.

Meanwhile, the Proxim Orinoco Mesh Creation Protocol will enable the AP-4000s to connect directly to one another over the air for metro or campus networking. It will be available via a free firmware upgrade from the Proxim Web site this month, Parker says.

With its newly announced products and programs, Proxim hopes to counter-attack invasions of its customer base.

Colubris, for example, is offering rebates to customers trading in Proxim products and discounts on the Colubris Network Management System, which manages Proxim APs. Trapeze Networks last week announced that the Mobility System Software in its Wi-Fi switches will manage Proxim AP-4000s on a per-user basis.