We wrote about the products for building wireless networks of the IEEE802.11b standard many times already. For the most part they were adaptersfor the PCMCIA/PC Card bus convenient for utilization in notebooks. Andwhen used in desktop PCs, they required additional controllers.
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The most successful solution of this problem is building of a controllerfor the USB bus. Since the data rate is some 11Mbit/sec, the USB bus, beingstandard for desktop PCs, with its 12Mbit/sec bandwidth and a possibilityto power the device is best suitable for this purpose.
Today we will take a close look at the LucentORiNOCO USB Client Silver wireless adapter,or IEEE 802.11b controller for the USB bus. Wireless products from Lucentare now produced under the trademark AgereSystems, but products are labeled as being from AvayaCommunication. That's a knotty case, but for a user the most importantthing is that all the products are developed by Lucent in order to havegood quality and perfect feature support.
This adapter excellently supplement the Lucent ORiNOCO series that consistsof PC Card adapters (for notebooks and PDAs), ISA/PCI adapters (for PCs),Access Points (for connection to a wired network), external antennae:
The specification of the device almost coincide with the characteristicsof the PCMCIA brothers:
- IEEE 802.11b standard, Wi-Fi
- FR: 2400-2500 MHz
- Frequency channels: 11
- Speeds: 11, 5.5, 2, 1Mbit/sec
- 64 and 128 bit (in 'Gold' version) WEP coding support
- Distance of operation:
|11 Mbit/s||5.5 Mbit/s||2 Mbit/s||1 Mbit/s|
|Semi Open Office|
- Output power: 15 dBm
- External interface: USB 1.1
The differences consist primarily in the dimensions and power consumption:
- dimensions: 63X89X145mm
- weight: 170g
- power consumption: Doze mode 10 mA, Receiver mode 245 mA, Transmit mode360 mA
As well as in the software support, which is presently given only in theWindows 98/ME/2000.
The device ships in a small box which contains also a description, aCD with drivers, programs and additional documentation and a USB cable1m long.
The adapter is not a completely new development, it is a usual ORiNOCOPC Card Silver installed in the PCMCIA adapter for the USB bus:
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In fact this technology is not new - the majority of Access Points forwireless networks are built the similar way - they are microcomputers withincorporated wireless cards of the PCMCIA standard. Such approach allowsfor reducing time and funds for development, but the end cost of the productincreases.
The USB adapter from Lucent uses two chips from CypressSemiconductor: the EZ-USB FX controller CY7C64613 and a 32 KBytesmemory chip. The master chip combines a USB bus controller, a processor,I/O lines. It is compatible with USB 1.1 and 2.0 standards, but you shouldn'texpect a high speed from the 24 or 48 MHz processor 8051. Note that it isnot allowed to use this USB controller separately from the PCMCIA cardLucent.
The device is comparatively small, it is easy to be install on any surface,though a USB cable is a bit short and can make problems when positioningthe adapter for obtaining the maximum connection quality. There are twoLEDs near the base. One indicates that the power is supplied to the device,the second one shows the status of the wireless network. But the observationshows that the first LED also changes its color during the network operation.As you might remember, a PCMCIA adapter has two LEDs on its case as well.But they are located inside in the USB version, as well as an output foran external antenna - one can virtually make a hole in the case to bringit here, but it isn't meant officially.
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Installation of the adapter is very simple, the only unclear issue waspacked drivers for the Windows 2000, that is why first we had to installthem on a PC with a proprietary installation program. Replacement of anout-of-order adapter makes some problems, since drivers get tied to a particularadapter and, when it is to be changed, the drivers are also to be reinstalled.It is said in the documentation. I tried to change a PCMCIA card in theUSB adapter, and I had only to reboot the Windows 2000, that is why thisproblem might be artificial.
Since every USB port allows for a maximum of 500mA, the adapter takingthe rated 360mA should work flawlessly. But having checked into the USBcontroller's properties how much the Lucent ORiNOCO USB consumes I saw420mA. It is much more than specified in the documentation, but the controllercan set this figure with some reserve. By the way, a simultaneous operationof the wireless adapter and a portable hard disc didn't cause any problemsdespite the fact that their aggregate consumption made 520mA.
We have noticed no compatibility problems during the operation of thedevice under the Windows 2000. Besides, the adapter can be switched on/offwithout rebooting of the system. It seems that with USB support in Microsoftoperating systems everything is getting better: when disabling the adapterin the Windows 98SE, the system hung, showed GPF etc.
Since the device is based on the same PCMCIA card, such parameters as connection quality and operating distance do not differ absolutely from the earlier described adapters. The only interesting issue is speed. The measurements show that the data rate is less than for the PCMCIA card - approximately 600 KBytes/sec against 700 KBytes/sec. First, it may be caused by the drivers. Today only the second version is available, and we know that Lucent can increase the speed much in the following versions. Secondly, it may be caused by the USB drivers of the system (I used the Windows 2000 Pro). Since we know that there are real devices working at 900 KBytes/sec via the USB (for example, hard discs and CDRW drives), we should expect something more from the Lucent ORiNOCO USB as well, but it might be that the USB-PCMCIA adapter is itself a limiting factor.
The Lucent ORiNOCO USB Client Silver adapter is virtually the most beneficialway for desktop PCs to be connected to a wireless network. First, it doesn'trequire a PCMCIA-ISA/PCI controller. Secondly, it can be installed up to10 m away from a PC (you need only a long USB cable which is much cheaperthan a high-frequency antenna cable, plus you don't need adapters); itis very important for a right positioning of an antenna and for reachingthe maximum distance of operation of the card. Besides, the price is only$10 higher than that of a PCMCIA card of the same manufacturer.
- convenient connection to a PC via the USB bus
- relatively low price
- data transfer rate lower than that of the PCMCIA wireless adapters
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Networking and communications gear vendor Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise has appointed Exclusive Networks as its distributor for Asia-Pacific.
The distribution agreement covers the full spectrum of ALE communication/collaboration and networking solutions to Exclusive’s reseller network in Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Thailand.
“The ALE-Exclusive Networks partnership will take ALE closer to our customers and accelerate our expansion across the mid-markets in Australia and New Zealand,” Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise ANZ country leader Karl Sice said.
“We can now empower mid-sized companies in this region to modernise and strengthen their network infrastructures as they digitalise and move their workloads to the cloud.”
ALE said it was targeting Southeast Asia in particular as the region has been building up internet and mobile connectivity infrastructure despite current economic contraction.
ALE Southeast Asia country leader Damien Delard said, “Exclusive Networks will be an invaluable partner to us in Southeast Asia as we strive to help local enterprises in markets like the Philippines and Thailand make everything connect through our technologies.”
“The collaboration is timely as Southeast Asian countries are home to some of the most innovative businesses in the world building up their overall communication and connectivity at a rapid pace. ALE will be well positioned to support them through this partnership.”
Exclusive Networks APAC SVP Brad Gray said, “We are delighted to be extending our strong and successful partnership with ALE, which goes back almost 20 years in Singapore, across the Asia Pacific region.”
“Exclusive Networks brings an extensive presence including a strong reseller network to the partnership and will provide coverage and consistency for our key GSIs.”