Proxim ships 802.11n access points, claims fastest speed

US suburban school district sees need for 'n' speed

Proxim Wireless announced Monday it is shipping two new 802.11n access points, one with two radios that Proxim called the fastest on the market.

The dual-radio OriNoco AP-8000 provides up to 320Mbit/sec. of throughput and retails at US$1,099, Proxim said in a statement. The other device now shipping, the AP-800, is a single radio device, which sells for US$799.

Proxim also claimed that using its new 802.11n gear for a wireless LAN deployment can cost half of a traditional deployment, since no added power nor a costly WLAN controller is needed and because 802.11n can provide twice the range of 802.11a/b/g access points.

David Watson, network services manager at the Shoreline School District, a northern suburb of Seattle, said he had seen impressive speed over the AP-8000 device at a minimal rate of 80Mbit/sec. to 90Mbit/sec. in his own laboratory tests, several times what is possible with the district's 802.11 a/b/g. The device has also been put into field testing in the district's central office, which is subject to heavy usage at various times during the day when teacher groups meet and work via laptop.

Because the lab and field tests have gone well, Watson said he foresees buying several dozen of the 802.11n devices next September in the next budget cycle, to begin a slow replacement of 800 different 802.11 a/b/g access points that are now four years old. The older access points were also from Proxim and have proved reliable and easy to use, he said.

The driving force behind going to 802.11n is to provide speed, mainly to bandwidth-hungry student users, Watson said. "My basic reason for wanting n is survival, to keep the phone from ringing too much" with calls from students complaining about performance issues.

The public school district has 10,000 students, and about 7,000 have been provided with Wi-Fi-enabled laptops for school work, including online texts. About 12 percent of the total laptops have 802.11n radios, and they are centered in one of the district's 15 school buildings. As laptops are upgraded, 802.11n capability will be added, he said.

Watson said his laboratory testing could have been with only one of the two radios in the AP-8000, but it was impossible to tell. If it was with only one radio, the minimal speed of 80Mbit/sec. would be in line with the rates that Proxim is claiming under ideal situations, he said.

Last week, Hewlett-Packard's Procurve networking division released its first high-speed 802.11n access point, which will be available starting in January.

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