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3Com on October 2 will claim a first in introducing a single Layer 2 switch that combines Gigabit Ethernet switching, Power over Ethernet on every port and an integrated wireless controller designed and priced specifically for small and midsize businesses.

The new 3Com Unified Gigabit Wireless PoE Switch 24 supports converged wired and wireless networking as well as VOIP (voice over IP) connectivity in an affordable switch for between 20 and 250 users, according to Howard Rubin, product marketing manager for wireless at 3Com in Marlborough, Mass.

With support in the switch’s wireless controller for up to 24 wireless access ports and a list price of $2,750, no other competitor addresses the needs of small business as well, Rubin said.

To read more about other 3Com wireless gear for SMBs, click here.

Although rival Cisco Systems offers a switch that integrates wired and wireless connectivity, it still uses two IP addresses, two command line interfaces and two separate operating systems, according to Rubin.

3Com emphasized ease of configuration and management of the switch for small businesses that have little to no networking expertise.

It includes a browser-based wizard that allows users to configure the switches with five mouse clicks. It can also be managed via command line interface, console, Telnet or SNMP.

Such management options are aimed at 3Com channel partners looking to deploy managed services using the switch.

“This is managed services ready with one IP address to manage all the functions,” said Rubin.

3Com officials claimed the switch supports full Layer 2 line rate gigabit speeds and full support on every port for IEEE 802.3af Power over Ethernet to support added VOIP call controllers or stations.

The wireless controller in the switch provides such security features as rogue wireless access point detection, AES encryption, automated load balancing across WAPs, fast roaming and support for emerging wireless standards such as IEEE 802.11n.

It can support up to 250 wireless users.

The switch is due by mid-October.

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