Adding 802.11N to existing b/g network.

Unanswered Question
Apr 30th, 2010

Existing infrastructure is 1130AG with A radios turned off - all autonomous and no wireless controller.  What issues do I need to be aware of?   We haven't made a decision as to a particular model (may not even be Cisco at this point), and I have yet to see an N WAP so forgive me if some of these questions seem simple.

I'm looking at adding 802.11n WAPs in a few areas that need increased bandwidth - conference and training rooms, and presentation areas.

Do all N WAPs support both 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz range, or does that need to be specified when ordering?  I've seen some of the cheaper models that only list 2.4 GHz as the operating frequency and some that don't even specify a frequency.

Do the N WAPs become degraded if non-N clients associate?  If so, is there a way to prevent non-N clients from associating?  Some of these areas already have existing WAPs, so I need to determine if its okay to replace existing, or if these new WAPs will cause problems - both will be using the same SSID and authentication methods.

Or, am I better off using N in the 5 GHz space?  Other than 1 or 2 Mac users, I'm not aware of any clients currently running N, so I don't know if they will support N at both 2.4 or 5.0, or if that is even an option.  Do all N adapters automatically support both?  Our previous testing with A in the 5.0 GHz range was not very satisfying, so I don't know if the range issue has been addressed in 802.11n.

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Leo Laohoo Sun, 05/02/2010 - 15:03

There are currently two models which support 802.11n:  1140 and 1250.  The 1250 is industrial grade and designed for outdoor use (note:  It's NOT waterproof!) such as warehouse, hangars, theatres, etc.  The 1140 is designed for indoor/office use.

Data Sheet - Cisco Aironet 1250 Series Access Point
http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/collateral/wireless/ps5678/ps6973/ps8382/product_data_sheet0900aecd806b7c5c.html

Data Sheet - Cisco Aironet 1140 Series Access Point
http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/collateral/wireless/ps5678/ps10092/datasheet_c78-502793.html

On 26 of April 2010, Cisco announced the new generation of 802.11n wireless access points:  the 3500i/3500e and the 1260.

Unlike it's predecessor, the 1260 support 802.11n at 15.4w PoE power (the 1250 can support 15.4w of PoE if you upgrade the software).  But unlike the traditional 1200 series wireless access points, the 1260 is not built around an all-metal chassis.

The 3500i is for indoor use (and the antennaes are internal) but the 3500e is for outdoor use (with external antennaes as optional accessories).  The 3500e is built with an all-metal chassis.  The significant difference between the 3500i/e and the 1260 is that the 3500i/e has an built-in spectrum analyzer.  Cisco has rolled over their "spectrum analayzer" business unit into the new wireless AP.  It can detect intererence such as microwave ovens, analog/digital wireless phones, bluetooth, etc.

Unfortunately, the 3500i/e and 1260 only supports controller-based (firmware version 7.X and later) and it's still unclear if autonomous IOS will be added.

Data Sheet - Cisco Aironet 3500 Series Access Point
http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/collateral/wireless/ps5678/ps10981/data_sheet_c78-594630.html

Data Sheet - Cisco Aironet 1260 Series Access Point
http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/collateral/wireless/ps5678/ps10980/data_sheet_c78-593663.html

For 802.11n to work, you need to use open authentication or WPA2/AES.  You'll also need Channel Bonding with your 2.4GHz radio and both radios need to be operational.  It would also help your APs are connected to Gigabitethernet links rather than Fastethernet.

I hope you are fully confused.  If not, let us know and I'll dump a few more stuffs. 

Don't forget to rate our posts.  Thanks.

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