Bluesocket's Performance Play

LAS VEGAS -- Interop -- Bluesocket Inc. 's unveiling of its enterprise MIMO access point couldn't have been better timed: The startup started to show off the BSAP-1700 just as it became clear that speedier, standardized WiFi -- in the shape of the 802.11n specification -- is still a year or more away.

The firm says that the access point, which supports all the current 802.11 standards using a chipset from Airgo Networks Inc. , will offer 30 percent better range and data transmission speeds with standard WiFi clients, and users will be able to upgrade the AP with new 802.11n cards, when the standard is finally nailed down. The firm says that the AP moves beyond consumer MIMO products because it supports "enterprise class features" such as power-over-Ethernet and a Gigabit Ethernet port.

"This puts Bluesocket in a postion to be first to market when 'n' comes out," confirms Mads Lillelund, the new CEO at the Burlington, Mass., firm.

The Bluesocket boys say that they have seen plenty of interest from users about the new AP at the show. Enterprise users that Unstrung has spoken to here, however, are equal parts curious but cautious about the world of MIMO and 802.11n.

"I've been keeping tabs on it," says Aaron Bazler, network & infrastructure manager at Manchester Airport in the U.K., who uses Trapeze Networks Inc. gear to provide WiFi coverage across the whole of the airport. "It's not the sort of thing I'm going to be upgrading to wholesale, though. That would be too expensive"

Bluesocket seems keenly aware that price as well as performance is going to be an issue for some users and is stressing that the new box lists for $795. Bluesocket claim that is less than the list price for a Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) 1200 AP. Although a quick price check reveals that anyone who pays list for the Cisco box is patently insane.

Oh yeah, in case you've forgotten, MIMO stands for multiple-input/multiple-output, a smart antenna technology. MIMO chipsets transmit multiple data streams to increase throughput rates while extending range.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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