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David Sims - TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist[April 5, 2005]

Access Point Brownout, uh, Problem Addressed

By David Sims, TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist

When presented with a company flogging a product claiming to help with “access point brownouts,” like any ace reporter the first question I asked was “What’s the problem again? Access point what?”

Turned to U.S.Robotics Networking for Dummies. Parenthetically, is there anything that those For Complete Morons Like You books don’t deal with? True story: Friend and I were in a Barnes & Noble a month ago, he holds up a book for me to see, no comment, Alzheimer’s For Dummies. I mean there’s Sex For Dummies, and Guitar For Dummies, two areas of endeavor which even this reporter was able to figure out without 200+ pages of patronizing help and line drawings, what’s next? Daily Respirationfor Dummies?

Ah, I’m just a bitter old journalist because in the early 2000s the For Dummies people got signed clearance from me to use some of my CRM writing with attribution in CRM For Dummies – and then never used it. There I was with a whole bottle of champagne I didn’t know what to do with until I got Drinking For Dummies.

Evidently access point brownout is when you have too many wireless devices operating in too close proximity to each other, especially lots of low-power devices used near a high-power access point. A problem I know I have, oh, weekly.

Anyway for those of you prosperous enough to have such a problem, APconnections, a supplier of plug-and-play bandwidth shaping products, has announced the availability of its new AirEqualizer, a self-contained power-over-Ethernet wireless access point with built-in APconnections' equalizing technology.

AirEqualizer allows organizations to control network congestion at the AP, ensuring high-quality connectivity for voice over IP and other priority users, thereby, evidently, reducing help desk and service calls – without the need for any manual tuning.

"AP brownouts and lockups that are caused by network congestion are a very common problem in wireless networks," said Mark Pultusker, president of MDU Broadband, who I guess would know better than I. "As a provider that serves multi-dwelling units, preventing this congestion is critical to our business success. The addition of AirEqualizer to our network will eliminate this ongoing headache."

Pultusker said that prior to AirEqualizer’s installation, heavy use of file sharing software such as KaZaA and Gnutella, which can generate 200 to 300 sessions per user, forced them to reboot their routers “every few days.” When that usage is multiplied by twenty to thirty users, routers become easily overwhelmed. Viruses were also problems, since as Pultusker said “one user could generate tons of traffic via a virus and totally shut down the network.”

He said it’s easier to prevent problems like these by being proactive; by using equalizing technology, “we have not had to invest any time after the fact finding the offender."

Somewhere an offender breathes easier, but the point is that the network’s life is easier.

Art Reisman, CTO and founder of APconnections claims that “built-in equalizing eliminates brownouts and lockups, while at the same time allowing 25-40% more users to connect to a single AP."

In addition to APconnections' equalizing technology, AirEqualizer comes with standard commercial AP technology, including authentication, billing, re-direction, routing, and firewall protection.

Next, of course, is Access Point Brownouts For Dummies now. Matter of time, matter of time.

David Sims is contributing editor and CRM Alert columnist for TMCnet.

To discover how contact centers can save money and increase productivity by making the switch to IP Telephony, be sure to attend TMC's IP Contact Center Summit May 24-26, 2005, in Dallas, Texas. IP Contact Center Summit is co-located with the Speech-World conference, where you can get expert guidance in the deployment of speech technologies to strengthen customer relationships.

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