Colubris Plans Dual-Band 11n

By Eric Griffith

May 14, 2007

The company’s “intelligent AP” will support 11n along with a separate radio for legacy client connections.

colubrisMAP625

Later this year, Colubris Networks plans to deliver an access point in a new case design, complete with dual radios: one for legacy 802.11a/b/g clients, and another to handle the fast-approaching 802.11n revolution.

The new product, the Colubris MultiService Access Point 625 (MAP-625), “complements our controllers and management platform,” says Carl Blume, Colubris' director of marketing. “It provides customers with a smooth migration path to 11n.”

By separating the legacy clients from the 11n clients, Colubris says it will have an “Always N” tech, with the 3x3 11n radio dedicated and never slowed down by connecting to older laptops. The 2.4 GHz side of the 11n radio -- 11n can support both 2.4 and 5 GHz radio frequencies -- will be limited to a 20 MHz channel, so it won’t cause any “bad neighbor interference” by doubling to 40 MHz, an option in 11n.

Also new with the MAP-600 family is the enclosure, which Colubris plans to use on additional products in the future. It has wing-like antennas that can be closed or opened to provide directional or omni-directional signals. They’ll mount on a wall or ceiling. The MAP-625 is based on an Atheros Wi-Fi chipset.

When asked about a recent announcement by startup Aerohive decrying the need for controllers in an enterprise WLAN, Pierre Trudeau, Colubris' founder and CTO, points out that the company has done distributed APs for a while -- he says Colubris has shipped Aerohive-type technology for a year now. “We do what they claim they’ll do -- but we can scale,” he says.

Colubris says its architecture will not require a fork-lift upgrade for existing customers moving to 802.11n. Blume compares what Colubris is doing to Meru Networks’ 11n plans, calling Meru’s 3-Tier Traffic Distribution System (3TDS) that keeps data traffic and control traffic separate a “band-aid on architectural issues by creating distribution points.”  

The MAP-625 is backward-compatible with all existing Colubris controllers, which Blume says is “great investment protection. Customers can install an AP that -- even without 11n clients today -- migrates them forward as the 11n clients come on board.” The units will ship in the fall -- mostly likely after they’ve received certification for interoperability from the Wi-Fi Alliance on 11a/b/g/n -- at a price of $999 per unit.

The 802.11n specification is currently in draft 2.0 from the IEEE, a draft deemed by most as sufficient to go ahead and start deploying. The Alliance will start testing it this summer -- the first time it will be tested based on a draft and not a ratified standard.



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