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3/27/2008
05:14 AM
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802.11n Price Points Drop, Features Rise

The inexorable push to higher speed wireless LANs recently took a significant step forward. Wireless access points that support PoE (Power over Ethernet) and cost less than $1,000 are now in the product delivery pipeline.

The inexorable push to higher speed wireless LANs recently took a significant step forward. Wireless access points that support PoE (Power over Ethernet) and cost less than $1,000 are now in the product delivery pipeline.After intense infighting, vendors approved the 802.11n specification, which increased wireless LANs top transmission speed from 50M bps to 100m bps. Because of the contentious process, compliant products have been slow to make their way out of research and development laboratories and into users networks. Extricom announced a series of high speed wireless LANs, which have some interesting features. First, the products are designed to be compatible with customers existing networks (802.11b or 802.11 g) and run in either 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz bands. The companys EXRP-40En Four-Radio UltraThin Access Point, which costs $995, features two n/a/b/g radios and two a/b/g radios, bands. Its EXRP-30n Three-Radio UltraThin Access Point, which is priced at $895, is equipped with two n/g/b/a radios and one g/b/a radio. The access points can be configured to operate in various channel combinations and support MIMO (Multiple Input/Multiple Output) antennas, so theoretically, small and medium businesses need fewer access points to cover their work areas.

The Extricom devices also support the IEER 802.3af PoE standard, which means they do not require additional electricity to operate. This feature, which has been gaining popularity, helps small and medium businesses reduce their energy costs, so they do not have to spend as much on their utilities. In addition, it enables users to support green initiatives, which have been becoming key components in corporate marketing messages.

In business since 2004, Extricom has been trying to carve out a niche in the highly competitive wireless LAN marketplace. The company has fared well to date and has now added some enticing devices but still lacks the name recognition found with other older, better established suppliers. Consequently, buying its equipment represents a risk because no one is sure what its future will be. The good news is pricing for higher speed wireless LANs is dropping, so small and medium businesses should be able to run more high bandwidth applications, such as video, over these connections.

How widely does your company use wireless LANs? How much of an issue is network bandwidth? How low will 802.11n pricing have to fall in order for you to consider deploying it?

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