Optical/IP Networks

Xirrus Marches in the 802.11n Parade

The battle for enterprise hearts and minds over 802.11n high-speed WiFi is hotting up. [Ed note: Yeah, more like from 'cool' to 'permanent press'.]

The latest WiFi company to enter the fray is Xirrus Inc. The big radio startup out of Westlake, Calif., is prepping a WiFi access point that can support up to 16 802.11n-compatible radios for launch early next year. The firm will be showing off this broadband beast at the Interop show in New York this coming October.

John DiGiovanni, regional director of sales and marketing for EMEA at Xirrus, claims the device will pump out around 100 Mbit/s of throughput per radio. The company plans to price the unit at $1000 per radio and sell the unit in its typical four, eight, and sixteen radio configurations.

DiGiovanni says typical customers are expected to be "large conference centers" and business and educational "campuses." For instance, the company recently sold a WiFi system to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) , which is buying the pre-802.11n upgrade available now from Xirrus. (See 2006: Top Ten Startups.)

The startup is just the latest WiFi player to get into the enterprise 802.11n market, even before the standard is fully ratified by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) . (See Cisco Goes 802.11n.)

The big dog of corporate WiFi, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), announced last week that it will start shipping an 802.11n draft 2.0-compliant system in October. That the dominant player in the enterprise WiFi would base a product off a draft specification -- even one which is likely to form the final standard -- indicates how seriously vendors in general are taking the move to higher-speed WiFi.

Aruba Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: ARUN), Meru Networks Inc. , and Trapeze Networks Inc. have all also said they are working on 802.11n boxes.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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