Cisco Networks is rolling out a new wireless access point designed to address the growing demand for fast network performance and consistent connectivity that is being fueled by the rapid growth of mobile devices and mobile network traffic.
At the Cisco Live conference in London Jan. 31, company officials unveiled the Aironet 3600 Series Access Point (AP), which they said offers users the best wireless experience. That includes 30 percent faster performance, fast speeds at a greater distance and the new ClientLink 2.0 technology, which improves performance for all wireless devices-including laptops, smartphones and tablets-connected to the access point.
It comes at a time when more people are using more mobile devices-for work as well as for personal use-and demanding strong network performance and constant connectivity, according to Inbar Lasser-Raab, senior director of enterprise mobility and routing global marketing for Cisco.
"We expect great quality," Lasser-Raab said in an interview with eWEEK. "Customers expect immediate service, and they expect high quality. ... It's not only the flood of devices, but the flood of traffic over these mobile devices."
IT departments are struggling to keep up with the demand, she said. They're juggling with multiple issues, from the increasing use of applications, such as video, voice and desktop virtualization, to the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend of employees demanding to access the corporate network and data with their personal smartphone and tablets.
That demand will only rise. Cisco's Visual Networking Index Forecast indicates that 54 percent of workers say their mobile device is the most important technology in their lives, and that more than half of college students and employees want to use them in their work or school activities, feeding into the BYOD trend. By 2015, there will be 7.1 billion mobile connected devices worldwide.
"Wireless is the thing everyone is talking about," Lasser-Raab said.
Cisco's Aironet 3600 Series AP is designed to address the growing demands being placed on wireless networks. It's the first three spatial stream 802.11n access point to come with a fourth antenna, she said. That enables the Cisco access point to handle more devices connecting wirelessly to the network from a greater variety of devices, and ones that are farther from the access point. The 30 percent faster performance on the Aironet 3600 Series AP-compared with previous access points-will enable people to have better experiences in everything from virtual desktops to cloud-based services to video calls.
ClientLink 2.0 gives a consistent connectivity and performance, regardless of the mobile device being used or its wireless signal strength, Lasser-Raab said. That is important in the case of devices like tablets, which can be slow and have weaker wireless signals, according to Cisco officials.
The Aironet 3600 Series offers a modular design to enable businesses to add modules to improve functionality, and provides the ability to support other devices as the need arises. Cisco's CleanAir technology offers radio-frequency spectrum trouble-shooting capabilities. A new RF-monitoring module gives businesses full visibility into all 23 channels of the WiFi spectrum, rather than simply monitoring the traffic-servicing channel. This will enable companies to be more proactive to interference and security issues.
The Aironet 3600 Series AP is available immediately, with pricing starting at $1,495. The dedicated RF-monitoring add-on module will be available by year's end.