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The Cisco Aironet 1250 Series will ship next month: The device is Draft 2.0 (certified Draft N) and it’s the first of its kind for the enterprise market. More will follow, from what I hear.
Morrisville State College could be the first large-scale buildout of Draft N equipment for a wide-area wireless LAN: They plan to have 900 Meru APs with 802.11n installed by September for the 1,800 students. Each node is $1,500 at retail—holy smokes! That’s the price of early deployments. Meru’s regular 802.11g nodes run half that at retail.
I have a problem with the radio count noted in the article. Two radios in the AP are described, one each for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Incoming students will receive Lenovo ThinkPad’s with 802.11n installed and preset to the 5 GHz band. However, the 2.4 GHz band is described as being broken into a 20 MHz 802.11b/g dedicated channel and a 40 MHz 802.11n channel. That’s not exactly how a single radio functions. You’d need two separate 2.4 GHz radios for that purpose. And most of the 802.11n experts and chipmakers I’ve spoken to don’t recommend running 802.11n in this fashion.
The college was still using a 2 Mpbs 1999 era Raytheon Raylink system for their network! There’s another New York college, Mount Saint Mary, that made a leap from RangeLAN systems in the late 90s to 802.11a back in 2002 (!!) using Proxim gear. They were way ahead of their time, but they also had Morrisville’s advantage: they were helping students get the right gear at a decent price (or rolled into tuition).
Large-scale Wi-Fi network operators in corporate and academic worlds bearish on N in short-term: These kinds of users need to see real improvements and good-neighbor operations before adopting 802.11n, as it doesn’t offer any real advantages in the short-term over their current networks.
The IT director at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, New York, is quoted as wanting to see test results. They’re an interesting case. I spoke to them three years ago because they were a very early WLAN deployer using RangeLAN (2 Mbps) equipment in the late 1990s. They moved from RangeLAN to 802.11a because it offered much higher speeds and less interference even though it seemed a strange move at the time and requiring users to purchase 802.11a or a/g cards for use on the campus network.