Cisco Systems Inc. last week announced WLAN offerings designed for IT managers who eventually want to deploy faster wireless products but still support existing ones.
The Cisco Aironet 1200 Series Access Point supports the simultaneous operation of 802.11b and 802.11a wireless LAN radios. 802.11b, also known as Wi-Fi, is the prevalent WLAN standard today, offering data transmission rates of up to 11M bps. (Laptop computers that support WLAN generally support 802.11b.)
802.11a runs on a different frequency band than its predecessor, so to support both, an access point must contain two radios. 802.11a permits rates of up to 54M bps but has been a tough sell to customers that already have Wi-Fi.
"We dont see the need for the speed increase," said Brian Jones, senior manager of IT research and development at CUNA Mutual Group, in Madison, Wis. CUNA has Cisco 802.11b WLAN products at 20 locations.
Cisco, of San Jose, Calif., designed the new access point to be modular, allowing for both single- and dual-mode operation in both the 2.4GHz (for 802.11b) and 5MHz (for 802.11a) bands. It ships with 802.11b support but has a slot for an 802.11a upgrade.
Customers can buy the radio modules as an installed option or as separate modules. Both the b and a modules will be upgradable to future standards that run on their respective frequency bands, officials said. This includes products based on 802.11g, which uses the same band as 802.11b but at speeds comparable to 802.11a. Cisco will release products based on 802.11g next year, officials said.
The access point costs $999 and is slated to ship this month. The dual-band version costs $1,499, and an 802.11a client card costs $229. Both will ship in August.