Cisco has unveiled what it claims is the first certified 802.11n Draft 2.0 access point.
The Aironet 1250 series access point (AP) is the only commercially available product to have been part of the Wi-Fi Alliance's testbed of Draft 2.0 products. The Wi-Fi Alliance embarked on an early "certification" of the draft standard in June because suppliers were becoming impatient with delays in getting the standard properly certified by the IEEE — now scheduled for next year at the earliest.
Some other manufacturers, notably Motorola, have decided to hold off on the production of business-grade 802.11n equipment until the IEEE has given its official approval. Even Frank Hanzlik, the former head of the Wi-Fi Alliance, claimed that the draft certification was primarily aimed at satisfying the consumer sector.
Richard Moir, a Cisco spokesperson, told ZDNet.co.uk on Wednesday that there was "85 percent agreement within the Wi-Fi Alliance" regarding the second draft of the 802.11n specification. "Even though this is Draft 2.0, what we're hoping is that, bar a few software changes, [it will be the same as] the final release next year. Customers will have already made an investment."
If the final specification for 802.11n did require a change in the hardware, upgrading the Cisco AP would be "a simple matter of popping out one radio card and putting in another", Moir insisted, adding that a "fair" upgrade cost might be incurred if necessary.
The 802.11n standard is seen by many as a huge advance in Wi-Fi technology, due to its increased reliability and predictability. Cisco's new access point will bring some of that improved functionality to 802.11b and 802.11g clients due to backwards compatibility, Moir claimed.
Cisco also announced other 802.11n products on Tuesday, including the 48Gbps Catalyst 6500-based WLAN controller system and wired and wireless services with the Unified Wireless Network Release 4.2.