The 802.11n draft wireless standard moved further into mainstream acceptance on Tuesday with Cisco's announcement of integrated enterprise products.
Cisco's Unified Wireless Network includes the modular Cisco Aironet 1250 access point and the 48-Gbps Cisco Catalyst 6500-based wireless LAN controller system. It also includes the ability to power a dual-radio Aironet 1250 Series from one Ethernet point, which can be useful if the access point is located some distance from an electrical outlet.
The Aironet 1250 access point, according to the San Jose, California-based company, is the first enterprise-class 802.11n draft 2.0 access point available, providing faster speeds and greater reliability than existing a/b/g Wi-Fi standards.
Scalability and Adaptability
In addition, the Aironet 1250 access point is the "only commercially available product to have participated" in the Wi-Fi Alliance's 802.11n draft 2.0 testbed, which, the company added, makes it the "industry benchmark" for certifying 802.11n interoperability.
Cisco is emphasizing the new products' scalability, adaptability, and enhanced functionalities. The Catalyst 6500 controller system, for example, can add capacity as required, with a Wireless Service Module. And the new Cisco Unified Wireless Network Software, now in version 4.2, provides enhanced mobility services, such as enterprise wireless mesh, access point monitoring, migration tools, guest access, and integrated spectrum analysis.
Cisco's Secure Services Client 5.0, meanwhile, provides such enhancements as a single client security/management framework and an improved user interface. Cisco said that by the end of the year, autonegotiating, single-port power will be enabled for the Aironet 1250 access point so that an additional cable drop or separate power injector will not be needed.
Tested with Intel
Cisco's next-generation wireless networks have been tested for security and compatibility with Intel at the chipmaker's Oregon testing facility, and the two companies said they have worked closely together to "ensure that adoption of 802.11n technologies is as seamless as possible for enterprise customers." Cisco said that more than 90 percent of laptops in the enterprise have Wi-Fi chips that are Cisco certified.
The 802.11n draft 2.0 standard can increase the 54 Mbps max of 802.11g to 300 Mbps. But some observers say that 802.11n is at least a year or more away from adoption as a formal standard by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Chipmakers, device manufacturers, and computer builders haven't waited for formal adoption and have begun to build the draft standard into their products. Cisco's release of 802.11n products will provide a major endorsement for the impending standard.
According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, which has been providing certification prior to formal standard adoption, tens of millions of prestandard 802.11n devices will be in the market by the end of this year. The Wi-Fi Alliance has said that it expects certification -- after the standard has been approved -- will support compatibility with prestandard 802.11n.