Motorola this week announced a new wireless LAN switch and a new Wi-Fi access point, both designed to support the faster 802.11n draft specification.
The new RFS6000 switch can support up to 48 Ethernet ports to connect to access points. The eight-port version starts at US$2,900, Motorola officials said. The access point, called the AP-7131, is the first on the market with three radios built in, and will sell for US$1,199. Both devices will ship next month.
Motorola joins a growing group of companies supporting the 802.11n specification, which is still in draft form. But it's far enough along for Siemens Networks, Cisco Systems, Trapeze Networks and others to ship devices.
Customers can feel secure that while the final specification for 802.11n might result in a software change, the hardware will not be changed and will not need to be replaced, said Sujai Hajela, general manager of the enterprise wireless LAN unit at Motorola.
Some customers have found that some access points using 802.11n require more power than what's provided in the current Power over Ethernet standard, known as 802.3af, and Motorola confirmed that all three radios will not work with that much power output. However, an emerging 802.3at standard provides for the power needed for all three radios. To reach a receiver at 75 to 100 feet from the access point, power will support only one radio, said Manish Rai, director of product marketing for enterprise wireless LAN.
However, Rai noted that Motorola's 802.11n products offer much faster speeds -- as much as four times faster -- compared to those provided by 802.11a/b/g radios. And 802.11n works over longer distances.
The San Marino Unified School District will use the new AP and other Motorola wireless point-to-point technologies to connect four school campuses, according to a statement released by Motorola. "In evaluating vendors for WLAN," said school representatives, only Motorola provided an end-to-end wireless solution with the advantage of smart adaptability and mesh that met our evolving needs."
Two IT managers who have been using Motorola 802.11a/b/g in retail environments said they will evaluate the new 802.11n gear, but have no immediate deployment plans. Todd Dvorak, project manager for management information systems at Circuit City Stores said Wi-Fi has been a valuable tool in support of wireless tablet laptops carried by sales personnel to look up information for customers. He said plans for 802.11n adoption are not set, noting that Circuit City upgraded its networks three years ago to accommodate IBM-based point-of-sale systems. "Had n been around three years ago, we would have used it," he said.
Meanwhile, Raymond Auger, vice president of retail systems for CVS, said Wi-Fi has proven invaluable in support of various applications at 6,200 drug stores in the chain. But even so, headquarters personnel for CVS in Woonsocket, R.I., will often take important applications to a wired network.
Asked what it might take to get off the wired network entirely, Auger said, "N is the enabler" without setting any specific upgrade plans.