Proxim Intros New 802.11n Access Points

By Jeff Goldman

November 17, 2008

Proxim's AP-800 and AP-8000 are designed to make it easy (and attractive) for an enterprise to upgrade to 11n.

Proxim's AP-800 and AP-8000 products are designed to make it easy (and attractive) for an enterprise to upgrade to 11n.

Proxim Wireless this week introduced a pair of new 802.11n access points—the single-radio ORiNOCO AP-800 and the dual-radio ORiNOCO AP-8000—which promise speeds of up to 320 Mbps, along with dual 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz operation, support for 802.3af (Power over Ethernet), and support for Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) globally in all 5 GHz bands.

Geoffrey Smith, Proxim’s vice president of marketing and business development, says the dual frequency support is a key differentiator for the products. “We’re the first to come out with a dual 11n solution that supports 2.4 and 5 GHz, so it really gives maximum flexibility for any type of legacy deployment that has client solutions deployed—or a pure greenfield opportunity as well,” he says.

In an over-the-air test in a live environment, Smith says, the new APs’ dual-radio throughput was 320 Mbps, and the single-radio throughput was 170 Mbps—compared to a 10/100 wired LAN capacity of 80 Mbps. “So 11n is creating the opportunity to replace a wired LAN infrastructure with rates that are now exceeding what you get from plugging your PC into the wall,” he says.

That can provide an enterprise with an enormous amount of flexibility, particularly for a new deployment. “With this technology, you don’t have to run those wires now to every single cube, office, or conference room,” Smith says. “Just run the power to the wireless access points, and get 170 to 320 megabits of capacity in each zone around the workspace.”

Ease of replacement

The AP-8000 supports a number of different radio configurations. “You can support two 2.4 GHz 11n radios, two 5 GHz 11n radios, or one 2.4 and one 5 GHz radio,” Smith says. “So whatever your legacy deployment might be in terms of clients, you have maximum flexibility with the dual-radio access point deployment—and even with the single-radio access point deployment.”

In order to make it easier to replace a legacy AP with the new solution, Smith says, the ceiling mount for the AP-800 and AP-8000 is identical to the one for the company’s legacy a/b/g solutions. “So when you go to a current Proxim customer that’s looking to increase capacity and range with the 11n solution, all they need to do is to take the legacy AP-700 or AP-4000 unit, twist it, it pops down, disconnect the Ethernet cable, take the new AP-800 or AP-8000, put it in its place, pop it in, plug the Ethernet cable back in—and you’re up and running,” he says.

The fact that both products are 802.3af compliant, Smith says, helps to guarantee that ease of replacement. “When you plug that Ethernet cable back in, you truly are up and running—you don’t have any new power requirements in the back end to be able to transmit the higher wattage to the access points… we eliminate that barrier to upgrading to 11n,” he says.

And the output power for the new products, Smith says, is the same as it is for the company’s a/b/g solutions. “We made sure when we productized the solution that not only were we 3af compliant, but that we also had the proper output power to ensure that you were going to get the 2x range,” he says.

Autonomous architecture

The AP-800 is priced at $799, and the AP-8000 is priced at $1,099. And since you’d need three times as many a/b/g APs to provide the same capacity as a single 11n AP, Smith suggests the new products are actually cheaper than legacy equipment in terms of price for capacity.

And the fact that Proxim doesn’t use a centralized controller architecture, Smith says, helps to eliminate any potential bottlenecks. “We chose an autonomous AP solution so that all of the processing is done at the edge, and the data rate that’s tunneled back is tunneled back to a wireless LAN switch that can handle several gigabits of traffic,” he says.

Proxim’s architecture, Smith says, should also help with future upgrades to next generation technologies like gigabit 802.11 VHT. “You’ll have support for even less APs when you migrate to VHT… unless you have huge processing capability available in your centralized controller—and this is just another reason why we chose the autonomous AP solution with all the processing done at the edge,” he says.

At the same time, the company’s ProximVision ES network management system supports the new 11n APs alongside all of the company’s legacy products. “With the addition of n to our portfolio, we’re continuing with the seamless management of all of our product lines,” says Robb Henshaw, Proxim’s senior manager of corporate communications.

In combining an autonomous AP architecture with other factors like 802.3af compliance, Henshaw says, Proxim’s aim is to make it as easy as possible to upgrade to 11n. “We’re certainly not the first 802.11n product to the market, but we do feel like we took the time to engineer a product that clears the barriers to deployment that a lot of other people are running up against,” he says.

Jeff Goldman is a veteran technology journalist and frequent contributor to Wi-Fi Planet. He is based in southern California.
Originally published on .

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