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September 01, 2009

Cisco News - Cisco Preps Customers for Super-Speedy 802.11n Wi-Fi Spec in Time for September Rollout

By Marisa Torrieri, TMCnet Editor

After seven years of testing and tweaking, the 802.11n Wi-Fi specification is finally ready to roll.
But with less than two weeks to go until the Wi-Fi Alliance (News - Alert) give two thumbs up to 802.11n, companies that eagerly anticipated the standard’s arrival are still filled with questions on everything from ‘how quickly will products support the final standard’ to ‘what is the value of upgrading to 802.11n.’

The spec - first conceptualized in 2002 when a study group met to determine the feasibility of a Wi-Fi standard that would surpass the de facto 802.11a and 802.11g Wi-Fi standards - is slated to become official when a special I-EEE task group publishes the final ratification on September 11.
When that happens, developers of compliant products will be granted the Wi-Fi Alliance’s stamp of approval, which, in turn, will allow them to market and sell 802.11n-certified products.
Still, networking giant Cisco’s Wi-Fi customers need a bit of convincing on why the standard is worth the investment.
“Generally speaking, customers want to know what the value of 11n is to their organization and when they should be able to move forward with deployments,” said Chris Kozup (News - Alert), senior manager for mobility solutions at Cisco. “What doesn’t get a lot of focus is how the technology can improve their coverage pattern and reliability in a particular building or facility.”
The 802.11n standard is the fastest to date - showing single radio performance in excess of 180 Mbps – more than seven times better than the existing 802.11a/g technology, according to some tests. Also, the company says its 802.11n products offer lower total cost of ownership with integrated RF management tools and by offering greater performance. On a price per bandwidth basis, 802.11g is almost five times more expensive than 802.11n. (According to Cisco (News - Alert), 11g access points with 22 Mbps cost $699 list price versus 11n AP with 180 Mbps at $1,299 list price.)
“Some people say ‘I don’t have the need for a 300-megabit speed in my environment, but what is important to them is that diagnostic equipment have a very reliable pulse or connection back into the wireless networks,’” Kozup said. “Often times we see applications that don’t require so much bandwidth, but what they require is a consistent line of communications. And even the smallest drop in wireless signal would cause that application to drop and have to reboot.”
For example, if you’re in a critical environment like healthcare, you don’t want your diagnostic equipment to go offline, Kozup said.
But the earliest 802.11n adopters - those customers who started using 802.11n 2.0 products in 2007 before the standard’s final version (draft 11) was okayed – won’t notice too many changes.
“Between the time going from draft 2.0 to draft 11, it was implied there were changes to the specifications, but that’s not the case,” Kozup said. “Cisco’s wireless access point products are certified draft 2.0 today. We’re in the position where we will adhere to the final 802.11n standard without any changes.”
Want to meet Cisco executives at this week’s ITEXPO West Show? Check out the following sessions: Next-Generation Enterprise Communications Solutions: The Current State-of-the-Art and Future Directions” (On Tuesday, 12:45 p.m., with panelist Brett Hamilton, product manager in Cisco’s IP Communications business); Stimulating Rural WiMAX (On Tuesday, 3:15 p.m., with Cisco’s Ken Gawlek, worldwide head of WIMAX) and Enabling the App Store: The Network Operators Perspective (on Tuesday, 3:15 p.m., with Kittur Nagesh, director of service provider marketing for mobility)

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Marisa Torrieri is a TMCnet Editor. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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