Aruba set to launch 802.11n access point

Aruba set to launch 802.11n access point

Joins Cisco, Trapeze, Meru and Colubris despite expected slow uptake

Wireless switch vendor Aruba will launch an access point that meets the fast 802.11n draft specification by November, even though customers are expected to adopt the new standard slowly.

Although enterprises aren't expected to jump onto 802.11n quickly, Aruba does not want to be left behind -- other vendors including Cisco, Trapeze, Meru and Colubris, have announced draft 802.11n access points, and some of these vendors are delivering them to customers.

Aruba is understood to be preparing a series of Draft N access points (APs), and has shown prototypes to journalists including Techworld. The products are expected to include a remote AP for branch offices, and products capable of indoor and outdoor mesh, where draft N will be used for backhaul.

"It's something Aruba will be keen to do," said Richard Webb, directing analyst for wireless at Infonetics Research. "Enterprise customers won't rush out and buy the first ones, but we know it's inevitable -- everyone is going to get there in the end."

Aruba's AP is not announced, but is expected to have 300Mbps throughput, like other Draft N products, with a usable data rate around 150 Mbps, and have two radios, for the 2.4GHz band (802.11bg/n) and the 5GHz band (802.11a/n).

Like other vendors, Aruba will have to deal with the fact that the current power-over-Ethernet standard, 802.3af, cannot drive two Wi-Fi radios. It is expected to launch an adaptive device which will switch radios on and off according to the power available

"At present, draft N products are more to show companies are up with the technology," said Elmer Choy, Wi-Fi market share analyst at Dell'Oro, which has just placed Aruba second in its market share figures. "Large end users will wait until the standard is closer to completion to adopt it, because there will have to be a lot of infrastructure upgrades."

Even Cisco's product, launched last week, is more to increase its profile in the wireless world: "They want to be seen as innovators," he said. "Cisco has a hugely strong portfolio, but has been giving out mixed messages."

Likewise, Aruba has previously said that users should be cautious in adopting 802.11n. An Aruba white paper warned that power requirements and the existing b/g infrastructure may mean "a number of years will pass before the full benefit will be felt".

Aruba won't be making any major changes to handle 802.11n -- it has long insisted that its infrastructure is capable of handling 802.11n speeds, even though there is a potential bottleneck, as all traffic originating on the wireless LAN must pass through the Aruba switch, in contrast to systems from Trapeze and Colubris.

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