802.11n won't happen overnight

Despite the hoopla, fast Wi-Fi, using the 802.11n standard, scarcely exists in the enterprise. This week saw what is, in fact, the first 802.11n installation in a European campus, put in by the comparatively minor player Meru.

This is after a year in which all enterprise Wi-Fi vendors have promised 802.11n equipment (eg Cisco, Aruba, Trapeze),
the Wi-Fi Alliance has begun branding the latest draft of the new standard, 802.11n laptops have gone on sale, and 802.11n access points have taken the home market by storm (they already had 15 percent of that market in 2006).

With all that going on, enterprise Wi-Fi vendors started such a consuming debate on how to install and power Wi-Fi access points, that one might have got the impression they were actually in widespread use.

In fact, no-one expects much activity on 802.11n installations until the middle of 2008. "It's a natural process," says Richard Webb, wireless analyst at Infonetics Research. "Nothing gets widespread adoption immediately - except amongst consumers." Rolling out 802.11n would mean a big upgrade for customers who already have full Wi-Fi coverage, and would be a complex add-on to existing wired networks, for those who haven't.

In keeping with that leisurely timetable, Cisco has detailed specifications for its 1250 access point online, but Trapeze and Aruba don't - because they aren't shipping them in anger yet.

So, what are the issues?

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