InfoWorld review: Netgear ProSafe wireless LAN system

Netgear has a first-rate wireless LAN solution for business networks, as long as you don't need first-rate technical support

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The Netgear ProSafe wireless LAN system is a great fit for a small business, providing reliable performance at a low cost. A small IT team with average skills could easily install and maintain this device, though initial setup may present a significant hurdle.

Netgear provided us with two ProSafe WNDAP350 wireless access points (WAPs) and the ProSafe WMS5316 wireless management device for testing. The WAPs support simultaneous 802.11a and 80211b/g/n networking, and the management system can handle a maximum of 16 WAPs. The deployment was challenging, but performance was superior and maintenance was simple. At $300 for each WNDAP350 access point and $600 for the WMS5316 controller, the cost is also attractive. We were less impressed with Netgear's customer support.

Netgear ProSafe deployment woes
Deploying the ProSafe system was not a trivial task. Although the two WNDAP350 WAPs arrived in the same box, they contained different versions of firmware. This seemed to be an issue when the Netgear controller could not detect the WAPs on our network. One of the general first steps involved with troubleshooting a network problem is to upgrade and standardize the firmware across devices. We tried this, but it did not solve the problem.

The obligatory phone call to customer support revealed where Netgear stands in its effort to provide business network solutions. Business customers demand a level of support that is far beyond that typically provided for the low-budget consumer devices Netgear has had success with in the past. The support experience would have been positive if I had been able to speak with a technician in less than 5 minutes rather than the 90 minutes it took being transferred from one support representative to another who could do no more than read from a scripted book.

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