802.11n On Extricom's Radar Screen

Extricom, which now joins the ranks of other vendors like Cisco Systems, Meru Networks, Ruckus Wireless, Motorola and a host of others, released a set of products including two new access points and a new antenna bar. Extricom also updated two of its WLAN switches and added a new wireless switch.

This is Extricom's fourth-generation solution and offers disruption-free and full-performance 802.11n for the enterprise, operating on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi bands.

According to Extricom, 11n solutions available to date leave the 2.5 GHz band for use by only legacy devices and require non-standard Power over Ethernet (PoE) schemes, while Extricom's WLAN System, based on its Channel Blanket architecture avoids these deployment obstacles.

"We're giving our channel partners and customers the ability to run full-performance n in 2.4 and 5 GHz," said David Confalonieri, the Israel-based vendor's marketing vice president. Confalonieri added that most companies today run wireless networks in 2.4 GHz, but most 11n solutions only work on 5 GHz. Utilizing both bands, he said, gives them the freedom to grow and protect their current investments.

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"Get started today and have the flexibility of both bands going forward," he said.

Extricom's solutions combine multi-radio access points for parallel, simultaneous wireless networks from the same set of APs. The overlapping networks, which Extricom calls its blanket architecture, can operate on any combination of channel, modes and frequency bands, allowing network managers to allocate each WLAN to a specific user group, application or type of device.

The method, Confalonieri said, lets users introduce 11n devices gradually into their existing environment without having to forklift and without conflicts with legacy devices. 11n can also be deployed with 40 MHz channel bonding in both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz to receive data rates of 300 Mbps, even if 11g or 11a devices are still present.

Confalonieri added that the existing network can also be augmented with the benefits of 11n without having to rework the number, location and cabling for access points. In addition, conventional 802.3af PoE can still be used, because Extricom's UltraThin design doesn't require a processor, instead standard PoE can drive a four-radio access point at full rate and coverage. Lastly, Confalonieri said, Extricom's 11n suite gets rid of the complexities of cell planning.

"The implementation of 802.11n should be about evolution, not revolution," said he said. "11n should be an enhancement, something you add to your existing environment, not something you migrate to, not something you replace your existing investment with."

On Tuesday Extricom released the EXRP-40En, a four-radio UltraThin access point, which incorporates two 11n/a/b/g radios and two a/b/g radios. They can be operated in any combination of channels and bands. The vendor also released the EXRP-30n, a tri-radio UltraThin access point with integrated antennas. The EXRP-30n has two 11n/g/b/a radios and one 11g/b/a radio, which can also be operated in any combination of channels and bands. All Extricom 11n equipped radios incorporate 3x3 MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) antenna configurations.

The vendor also unveiled updates of two of its WLAN switches to support 11n access points and released a new WLAN switch with 11n support. The 12-port EXSW-1200 and 24-port EXSW-2400 WLAN switches will require new firmware to support the new 11n access points, but will require no hardware upgrades. The new switch, the 16-port EXSW-1600 offers flexibility and scale, by offering a new port account for companies looking to deploy 802.11n.

"The switch family will be able to drive and operate with the exiting lineup of access points and the new 11n access points," Confalonieri said.

Lastly, Extricom unveiled the EXAN-10 Antenna Bar. Since MIMO technology multiplies the number of antennas for each Wi-Fi radio, which creates an unsightly number of external antennas that have to be connected to the access point. Extricom can integrate up to 12 antennas into one assembly, meaning numerous antennas can be connected to the access point with one single cable run to the antenna bar, which is then wall mounted.

For VARs, Confalonieri said, the suite of 11n products that run on Extricom's blanket architecture lets solution providers engage customers without making them refresh and restart their WLANs, a strong bargaining chip when some 11n products require replacing existing wireless infrastructure.

"It leapfrogs over the hurdles that have been nagging at channel partners that are trying to move their customers to 11n, and they're the ones charged with implementing it," he said.

Frank Kobuszewski, vice president of the Technology Solutions Group at Syracuse, N.Y.-based solution provider, CXtec, an Exticom partner, said Extricom's entrance into 11n gives him an alternative to offer to customers that will help them do more with their current wireless infrastructures while also embracing new technologies.

"That adds on to our value proposition," he said.

While Extricom launched its partner program last month, Kobuszewski said he's been actively getting the word out about the vendor's technology and its approach to wireless networking. He added that he's started to build solutions around it and is ramping up.

"It's definately an alternative to the 'me too' way of networking," he said. "It seems to be a win-win."