There are many different manufacturers of access points (APs), and all of them perform essentially the same function. However, there are substantial differences in security and features among the various vendors . For example, as we discuss in this chapter, some access points are capable of restricting user connections based on the MAC address of the wireless network card, while others have the capability to turn off the beacon broadcast, thus making the access point invisible to hacking programs. Fortunately, advanced security features such as these are becoming more common in SOHO (small office/home office) access points.
In our field survey of more than 1,300 access points in five cities, Cisco was the leader with 39.7%. Lucent had 19.2%, while Linksys had 17.1%; the remaining 24% were from various other manufacturers. Interestingly, the Linksys access points that are designed for SOHO use are finding their way into the corporate workplace at a rapid pace. This could be due to their low cost, wide availability, the addition of MAC restriction, and the capability to turn off the beacon broadcast. However, with the more expensive Cisco APs holding the majority, we can infer that a good deal of money is being spent on the expansion and development of internal corporate wireless networks.