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March 1, 2010

Fluke Networks unveils Wi-Fi testing gadget

Handheld device can troubleshoot congestion and rouge APs

By Steve Evans

Fluke Networks has unveiled a handheld Wi-Fi testing and troubleshooting device. AirCheck Wi-Fi Tester can indentify coverage and connectivity issues, locate unauthorised access points (APs) and check security settings. The rugged handheld device can also check for overloaded networks and channels and pick up on any interference.

It’s aimed at network managers and technicians and Barry Lindsley, network analysis field marketing manager at Fluke, told CBR that AirCheck addresses a clear, unmet need in the marketplace due to its ease-of-use.

“Very few people at the problem-solving end have a lot of wireless experience,” he said. “Some of the tools that are available on a freeware/shareware basis are not appropriate because people don’t have the knowledge to use them. They don’t fit the purpose for that person.”

Lindsley added that the tools available today are often installed on laptops, which can be cumbersome to use while trying to diagnose network issues. This can increase the amount of time it takes to resolve problems, Lindsley added. AirCheck is handheld and most operations require just one or two key presses, Fluke said.

AirCheck fires up in less than three seconds and has a full colour 2.8in LCD screen. The battery generally lasts five hours with a three hour charge time. Once started AirCheck begins searching for wireless networks instantly and the user can then see details of a variety of network information, such as local access points and usage statistics.

AirCheck can differentiate between networks that are overloaded due to Wi-Fi congestion or because of interference from a microwave or cordless phone, for example. It can also locate rogue access points, which can help a company maintain security on its network.

Testing sessions can be recorded on the device and downloaded on to a PC for report generation or archiving. For security reasons reports are not saved on the device after downloading, Lindsley said.

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“Wireless is now more than just convenience – it used to be just in meeting rooms and certain other uses – people are more concerned with making sure it’s working correctly,” he said. “This is about ease of use, getting visibility and solving user problems. It removes doubt and hours of guess work.”

The Fluke Networks AirCheck Wi-Fi Tester costs £1,796 with an optional directional antenna available for £175. It will ship during quarter two this year.


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