802.11n price wars already underway

The ink is barely dry on the final IEEE 802.11n standard, and already vendors are slashing their equipment prices to encourage wide-scale enterprise deployments.

It began when Aruba Wireless last month announced its AP-105, a dual-radio, 2×2 802.11n enterprise-class AP for $695, a price that undercuts anything seen in the enterprise 802.11n market for a dual-radio device. At the same time, Aruba also dropped the price of its 3×3 AP-124 and AP-125 products from $1,295 to $995.

Aruba says it was able to create the $695 AP-105 radio 802.11n AP by making tweaks to design, construction and feature sets. For example, the AP-105 sports a single gigabit Ethernet port while the AP-124 and AP-125 have two.

The AP-124 and 125 (which differ in that the 124 uses external antennas, while the 125 uses internal ones) will achieve slightly higher throughput than the AP-105, acknowledges Mike Tennefoss, head of strategic marketing. One reason is that, while all three devices support two spatial streams, the more expensive 3×3 devices have an extra antenna for improved diversity in interference-prone environments. Also, the AP-124/125 feature faster processors than the AP-105, he says.

Not to be outdone, Cisco is running a pricing promotion on its 802.11n 1140 dual-radio APs that will run until July 2010. A 10-pack of controller-based APs is $9,950, or $995 each.

The company also introduced a stand-alone mode for the 1140, available in a five-pack for $4,975 ($995 each) that can run unmanaged or be managed by Cisco’s Wireless Control System (WCS) software without requiring a controller, says Greg Beach, a Cisco director of product management.

With 802.11n-capable enterprise-class APs at $995, the “big guys” are rivaling the pricing of aggressive Wi-Fi system makers Ruckus Wireless and HP ProCurve, which both have offered 11n APs for a list price of $999. In addition, Motorola, which announced its tri-radio AP-7131 802.11n indoor AP in March 2008, offers the AP in a variety of configurations. In a dual-radio, 3×3, two-spatial stream scenario, the controller-based AP began listing for $949 in May, according to Motorola.

Other Moto configurations include adding 3G cellular backhaul as the third radio ($1,299) and adding a wireless intrusion prevention services, or WIPS security monitor as the third radio, for $1,649, according to the company.

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