Extricom unfurls blanket 802.11n coverage

Extricom unfurls blanket 802.11n coverage

New hardware to take cell planning hassle out of 802.11n deployment

Communications vendor Extricom has launched new 802.11n hardware, which it claims will allow firms to obtain all the performance benefits of the wireless Internet standard without the set-up hassle.

Extricom's new hardware includes enhancements to Extricom's 'Channel Blanket' architecture allow Extricom's current customers to add 802.11n to their WLAN, by a simple firmware upgrade to the central controlling switch.

It has also started shipping two new wireless access points: the EXRP-40En four-radio UltraThin AP, which Extricom say is the industry's only quad radio 802.11n AP; and the EXRP-30n three-radio UltraThin AP.

"Customers flock to the table when they hear about the performance possible" by upgrading to 802.11n equipment, said Extricom's marketing vice president, David Confalonieri. "However when they learn what they have to do – they back away. At Extricom, we're hoping they'll stay for dinner."

One of the benefits of Extricom's approach is that it centralises the control of wireless protocols in the switch, said Confalonieri. The APs have only transmit and receive functions, no storage capacity, and don't even have an IP address, a feature which means the user's system is not continually 'handing-off'. This makes the process of planning coverage far easier, Confalonieri added.

Traditionally, WLAN coverage depends on a cell-based approach, that requires IT managers to plan which areas access points can cover. When users move around, the system has to hand off the client to the relevant access point. In this model, there is an "implicit assumption that IT managers need specific radio-frequency expertise," said Confalonieri. With 802.11n, cell planning becomes even more complex, he argued.

Extricom's model lets the switch make all the decisions on wireless packet delivery and just takes wireless data from the radio which is receiving the strongest signal from the user.

Confalonieri said another major advantage of Extricom's system was that 802.11n devices and legacy (802.11a/b/g) devices at 2.4GHz don't interfere, so firms didn't need to limit 802.11n devices to the 5GHz frequency band and leave the 2.4GHz only for legacy devices.

Its EXRP-40En has two n/a/b/g radios and two a/b/g radios. These can be used in any combination of channels and bands.

The EXRP-30n is a tri-radio 802.11n AP with integrated antennas, allowing for easy deployment of ‘n’ on a large scale – it has two n/g/b/a radios and one g/b/a radio. The 'n' equipped radios have a 3 x 3 multiple-in, multiple-out (MIMO) antenna. "So, out of the gate we can run two 'n' WLANs and two 'non-n' WLANs side by side," added Confalonieri.