Cisco's new11n gear boosts legacy Wi-Fi performance

Tuesday unveiled a new 802.11n WLAN access point designed to simplify enterprise deployments, lower costs, and improve performance for existing 11g and 11a wireless clients. New financing, trade-in options and consulting services round out the news.

The new Aironet 1140 access point uses the same mounting hardware as Cisco's existing Aironet 1250 11n products. But it has two important new additions. First, it can deliver full 11n performance, with data encryption active, on an existing 802.3af infrastructure. Second, Cisco plans to introduce in April 2009 a new feature based on an optional part of the 11n draft standard, called . 

With beamforming, the 1140 access point can tailor its transmissions to 11a/g clients, creating a stronger signal and higher throughput. Cisco is citing a test report by Miercom that shows this new beamforming feature, dubbed ClientLink, created an average throughput boost of 65% for 11a/g clients and provided coverage in hard to reach areas that previously had no signal at all.

As part of the announcement, Cisco Capital is launching new programs to help enterprises finance large-scale 11n deployments. New WLAN migration consulting services also are available, and Cisco is offering 15% - 25% trade-in credits for existing WLAN gear, to give enterprises an incentive to swap out 11b/g infrastructures in favor of 11n. () 

The new is available now in two versions: a one-radio model for US$1,099 and a two-radio model for $1,299. Pricing is the same as for the existing Aironet 1250 11n product.

The 1140 has a 2x3 antenna configuration, for two spatial streams. The antennas now are housed under a trim, sleek new casing (the 1250 antennas were externally mounted, and separately priced). It has one Gigabit Ethernet port, and supports 802.11i, Wi-Fi Protected Access and WPA 2, and 802.1x authentication.