Cisco Goes All Out For 11n

802.11n access point Wi-Fi

While Cisco has been seated at the 11n table since late 2007 when it introduced its first true 11n product, the Aironet 1250 Access Point, Cisco Tuesday showed that it's continuing to fully back the latest wireless standard and is relying on the channel to get wireless end customers up to snuff and help them migrate to high-speed wireless.

First up, Cisco unveiled the Aironet 1140 Series access point, a next-generation wireless AP that combines full 802.11n performance with deployment simplicity. Chris Kozup, Cisco's senior manager of mobility solutions, said the new AP comes as companies are continuing on the path of mobility and collaboration. The Aironet 1140 is Wi-Fi-certified and designed to meet the needs of integrating high-quality voice, video and rich media across wireless networks due to the high throughput 11n offers over its 802.11a/g-based counterparts.

"We want to make it a mainstream technology," Kozup said of 11n.

The dual-radio—2.4GHz and 5GHz—1140 supports standard Power over Ethernet, encryption and decryption and uses the existing installed base of switches, breaking down some of the revenue barriers for companies hesitant to take the 11n plunge. To ease deployment, the new AP also uses existing mounting brackets and drill holes from previous-generation access points.

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"It's designed with deployment simplicity in mind," Kozup said, adding the 1140 Series lets users "leverage what's already out there."

Along with the new AP, Cisco on Tuesday introduced its M-Drive technology, a set of features to deliver a reliable and consistent radio frequency platform, which can ultimately ease wireless adoption and enhance 11n performance. M-Drive is a systemwide set of hardware and software features of the Cisco Unified Wireless Network to improve wireless coverage and capacity with consistent network transmit and receive for optimized rate vs. range and fill scalability through optimal 5GHz spectrum use; optimize device connections with automated client load balancing and extensive client compatibility and predictable roaming; and simplify wireless management with dynamic channel and power settings for 11n and 11a/b/g and automated coverage hole detection and removal.

At the center of M-Drive is the new ClientLink software, a beam-forming technology that offers consistent and higher throughput for 11a/g devices, which Kozup said lets legacy gear be used in tandem with 11n, protecting and extending the life of previous wireless investments. ClientLink can also increase overall system capacity for both 11a/g and 11n devices and reduce coverage holes in dynamic radio frequency environments.

Recent tests by Miercom, an independent testing and analysis lab, found ClientLink showed an increase of up to 65 percent in throughput for existing 802.11a/g devices connecting to a Cisco 802.11n network. In addition, the Miercom testing found that ClientLink delivers airtime connectivity fairness for both 11n and 11a/g devices, meaning they are not constantly competing against each other for spectrum coverage. By increasing throughput speed for 11a/g clients, ClientLink can increase the available channel capacity by up to 27 percent and boost performance of both 11n and 11a/g devices, Miercom found.

Cisco also introduced new incentives and programs around its 11n offerings, benefiting partners who bring their customers aboard. Kozup said 11n offers partners strong migration and revenue opportunities and opens the door for new services for partners whose customers migrate to 11n. Cisco is now offering trade-in credits ranging from 15 percent to 25 percent as a migration incentive for 11n and is devising new leasing and financing options.

Cisco is also launching two wireless specific certifications, giving its CCIE and CCNA certifications a wireless upgrade, Kozup said.

According to Cisco, M-Drive technology is available as a software upgrade for Unified Wireless Network Customers. The ClientLink feature will be available to customers as part of their SMARTnet support agreements in the first half of this year.

The Aironet 1140 Series access point, which is available now through the channel, has a list price of $1,299. A 10-unit Eco-Pack for the Aironet 1140 Series is also available, offering 10 access points with a 50 percent reduction in packaging and no power cords or documentation. The Eco-Pack lists for $12,990.