Review: Agere ORiNOCO AS-2000, part 1
If you're entering the Wi-Fi world and concerned about security or session accounting, take a good look at the ORiNOCO AS-2000. This platform overcomes wireless administration, security, and accounting issues by leveraging existing elements of your network.
Wi-Fi 802.11b and public Internet access appears to be a strong marriage of business opportunity and enabling technology. Today, corporate road warriors passing through airports, convention centers, and hotels wrestle with public PCs, cramped Internet kiosks, and painfully slow cellular uplinks. Wi-Fi promises convenient, high-speed, pay-as-you-go Internet access from your own seat, your own laptop.
However, today's standard Wi-Fi recipe lacks a key ingredient: the ability to reliably control and meter access. ORiNOCO AS-2000 satisfies that need by letting WISPs apply traditional dial authentication and accounting to Wi-Fi network access.
Agere Systems, Inc.
Getting On The Air
The AS-2000 story really begins with Agere ORiNOCO wireless network interface cards (NICs). These WECA-certified radio cards operate in the 2.4 GHz band, supporting the IEEE 802.11b High Rate standard. Auto-rate selection enables transmission at 11, 5.5, 2 and 1 Mbps.
We installed a half dozen ORiNOCO PC cards in our lab, evaluating compatibility with a variety of platforms. We inserted PC cards into a pair of laptops with PCMCIA Type II slots. We outfitted four desktops by slipping PC cards into ORiNOCO ISA and PCI adapters. Desktop users should consider ORiNOCO's new USB card (not tested).
Installing ORiNOCO cards went well on plug and play operating systems (Windows 95, ME, 2000 Pro). When prompted by discovery, just locate the driver for your OS on the supplied CD. For ISA and PCI adapters, PCMCIA services must be installed first. On each desktop, we had to overcome at least one PCMCIA hiccup. Our advice: follow instructions precisely. For example, ISA adapters must be installed with PC card insertedPCI adapters with PC card absent.
Installing ORiNOCO cards under Windows NT proved to be painful. It took several re-installs to achieve success on an NT4 SP5 Workstation laptop. We eventually gave up on an NT4 SP4 Server desktop. With PCI adapter installed, this Server threw a bluescreen exception at boot. With ISA adapter, we got furtherbut not much. NT crankiness was no big surprise, but we'd like to see better troubleshooting help, FAQs, and tech support for this platform.
ORiNOCO setup covers physical installation, but not network addressing. In fact, network settings for the ORiNOCO NIC are ignored by the AS-2000. Configuring a static IP can avoid startup delay due to DHCP. Drivers are also available for MacOS (untested).