Tuesday, September 4

WiFi 802.11N: Good Enough for Cisco, Good Enough for All?

By The VAR Guy

If it’s good enough for Cisco Systems, it’s got to be good enough for wireless enterprises. That could be the collective reaction of CIOs who are taking a hard look at the emerging — though incomplete — 802.11n WiFi standard.

You can get all the tech details about Cisco’s new 802.11n gear over here. More than a product announcement, however, Cisco’s decision to launch 802.11n equipment for big enterprises signals that a land grab is under way in the next-generation WiFi market. Although the 802.11n standard isn’t expected to be wrapped up until mid- or -late 2008, it’s clear that vendors (and many of their customers) now believe 802.11n devices will communicate with one another based on the current draft standard. Most major notebooks and even some PCs — including Apple’s latest iMacs — now come with 802.11n support built-in.

And while Cisco remains the king of networking, several other small empires are popping up on the WiFi landscape. Xirrus, for one, seems to be everywhere in recent months. The company has unwired a number of major campuses, including schools and universities across North America.

At the same time, The VAR Guy continues to closely track wireless mesh vendors — BelAir Networks, Cisco, Nortel, Motorola, Tropos Networks, SkyPilot and several others — that serve the municipal broadband market. While 802.11n hasn’t gained traction yet in the municipal wireless market, that should begin to change in 2008 or so.