Cisco has dropped the 802.11n shoe by announcing their first enterprise level wireless gear meeting the 802.11n Draft 2.0 specification (their consumer division, Linksys, has been shipping draft n gear for some time now).
The WiFi Draft n certified access point has been dubbed the Aironet 1250 Series. This AP can run in unified (LWAP) or autonomous (stand alone) mode. It looks like unified operation requires the new Cisco Wireless Service Module (WiSM) which pops into a Catalyst 6500 as well as Cisco Unified Wireless Network 4.2 software.
Wisely, Cisco is not immediately offering their own client card. Let’s face it – there are simply too many notebook options out there (PC Card, ExpressCard, USB, built-in, and so on.) Instead, they have been working with Intel to pre-test, certify, and offer new Client 5.0 software that will work with the Centrino 4965agn chipset.
Another point of interest is that running the power hungry 1250 AP on Power over Ethernet (PoE) will require a blade upgrade in existing 3750, 4500 and 6500 Catalyst switches.
My friend Frank Bulk over at Network Computing Online, says this about performance: "Sites <with Cisco> have seen rates of 120, 130, and even has high as 138 Mbps per radio. While this is likely in a greenfield environment without the debilitating effects of legacy clients, these claims did exceed by a large margin those privately demonstrated by both Meru and Trapeze at Interop Las Vegas."
Back in May I pointed out the optimism with 802.11n Draft 2.0 – the first version with real hope for interoperability - as well as various caveats and why it will resurrect interest in the almost forgotten 802.11a 5 GHz band. In fact, Intel has previously stated that the aforementioned Centrino chip will only support 40 MHz (two 20 MHz channels) operation in the 5 GHz band.
It certainly seems though Intel provided the catalyst this time around.