Cisco launches turbo-powered wireless access point


Cisco kicked off its premier event in London today by announcing a super-powered wireless access point (AP).

The Cisco Aironet 3600 Series AP looks to cater for the 'consumerised' world in which IT departments need to provide quality wireless connectivity to numerous employee devices.

Cisco has sought to innovate in the AP sphere, supporting the latest industry standards, the networking company said this morning at Cisco Live.

The Aironet 3600 supports the 802.11n wireless standard, which provides more stream and range than previous standards.

The hardware also supports the 802.11r standard, which "allows you to move around with very seamless connectivity," said Sujai Hajela, vice president and general manager of Cisco's wireless networking business unit. There is also 802.11u capability.

All this is delivered with this small bit of magic.

Delivered in a shiny white box, the AP is the industry's first four-antenna design for three spatial streams, Cisco said. This means more devices can hook up to the internet via the AP.

"What does that mean? The key part is it means I've got that reliability," Hajela said. "We design our own radio frequency chips, we don't ship them in like others."

Cisco claimed all this would help it achieve 30 per cent faster performance than other products on the market.

In particular, Cisco believes the AP will help provide high quality video, virtual desktop and voice over WLAN.

Other useful additions for IT departments include ClientLink 2.0 to give a performance boost. Importantly, ClientLink does not require Cisco software on client devices.

CleanAir, which will be available with a module in late 2012 to determine which channel is best for serving traffic over, aims to eliminate interference issues, Cisco said.

The Aironet 3600 also has a removable module so customers can insert add-ons or upgrades.

"All this is delivered with this small bit of magic," said Inbar Lasser-Raab, senior director at network systems for Cisco.

"Why are we so excited? If you look at a typical environment you have lots of people using multiple devices, some generate interference like microwaves and video cameras.

"In a regular environment where density of users and interference is high, you get bad signal. That is what wireless networks need to solve."

Cisco has sold 11.7 million access points since 2000 and is convinced the market is going to be a profitable one.

"That just shows you our momentum in the market," Lasser-Raab added. "This market is growing and it is growing really fast."

The Auronet 3600 Series AP is available now. With external antennas, it costs $1,595 (1,012), but with internal antennas the price goes down to $1,495.

There is little difference in radio power between the two models. It comes down to aesthetics, meaning the internal antenna AP is more suited to tight office environments.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.