Wi-Fi hotspots and access points are everywhere, and their number is still increasing. Most new and replacement hotspots will incorporate the IEEE's new 802.11n wireless local-area network (WLAN) standard, which incorporates multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) antennas and other new technologies to boost the wireless data rate to more than 100 Mbits/s.
The new equipment is based on the pre-n draft 2.0 version of the standard, which isn't expected to be ratified until next year at the earliest. In the meantime, chip manufacturers and WLAN makers are rolling out preliminary versions to get a head start in the market. To meet the need to test these devices, AirMagnet's Laptop Analyzer 7.5 targets pre-deployment and post-deployment of WLAN hardware (see the figure).
While the Laptop Analyzer 7.5 is fully backwards compatible with all previous standards (802.11a/b/g), its main feature is its 11n functionality. It can monitor and analyze all 802.11n traffic and differentiate between pre-standard and standard compliant devices. The heart of the software, the AirWISE engine, automatically detects the causes of dozens of Wi-Fi problems and issues.
Users don't have to interpret complex packet formats to figure out what is going on. The AirWISE detects and decodes the packets automatically and displays the results so users can quickly and easily identify and explain hundreds of different threats and performance issues. The software lets users set alarms. It provides access to diagnostic data and offers advice on corrective measures as well.
The Laptop Analyzer 7.5 is great at zeroing in on security problems. It supports virtually all the major security protocols, making it invaluable in pinpointing attacks and rogue devices. It also supports the monitoring of the standard 20-MHz channels as well as the new standard with 40-MHz channels that give the protocol its higher speeds.
Furthermore, the Laptop Analyzer 7.5 will measure the higher data rates possible with 11n products. Its more than 15 troubleshooting tools include connectivity testing, throughput measurement, and roaming capabilities to help users discover and solve wireless network problems.
A special version of the software called AirMagnet Laptop Analyzer PRO has all of the above functionality but also can monitor the U.S. 4.9-GHz public safety band. It includes a spectrum analyzer function where fast Fourier transform (FFT) analysis provides a different view of the wireless traffic and lets users identify interference from other sources in the shared 2.4-GHz band.
AirMagnet Inc. www.airmagnet.com