Siemens Solves Power over Ethernet Challenge for 802.11n Deployments
Architecture and power consumption innovations driving down costs and complexity of 802.11n deployments, validated by the Farpoint Group, and Wi-Fi Alliance certified
The new HiPath® Wireless 802.11n solution from Siemens Enterprise Communications is the first solution of its kind to offer innovative architecture and power consumption capabilities to make the migration to fully functional, faster, more reliable 802.11n networks easier and more cost-effective. This secure wireless solution is a key part of Siemens’ open communications portfolio. And now, test results by Craig Mathias of Farpoint Group verify that the HiPath Wireless Access Points (APs), are the first ever to deliver dual-radio, 3x3 MIMO 802.11n functionality while remaining compliant with the wattage limitations of industry-standard 802.3af Power-over-Ethernet (PoE).
Further to this, Siemens has also announced that its new 802.11n HiPath Wireless AP has received the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED® seal of approval for 802.11n draft 2.0 from the Wi-Fi Alliance®. The HiPath Wireless AP3620 was awarded the certification after successfully passing a rigorous sequence of qualification testing, which ensures the compatibility of WLAN products based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) 802.11n WLAN specifications. The HiPath Wireless AP is certified for adhering to industry standard tests for interoperability, the latest in security protection, and backward compatibility with previous generations of Wi-Fi equipment.
802.11n offers substantial benefits over previous wireless standards, with speeds up to five times faster than traditional WLANs, greater range and improved reliability to support high-performance mobile applications, such as HD video, high-resolution imaging and voice over WLAN (VoWLAN). However, with these benefits has come the considerable challenge of integrating the access points into an existing network, since additional power is required for dual-band 3x3 radios (those functioning in both the 2.4 and 5GHz bands) to work at optimum performance levels.
Farpoint Group, a leading independent analyst firm of mobile technologies based in Massachusetts, performed its own tests aimed at verifying whether or not Siemens had met the difficult challenge of addressing both the physical power delivery constraints of the IEEE 802.3af PoE and the needs of power-hungry, dual-radio 802.11n APs. The 3x3 MIMO technology at the heart of 802.11n relies on the use of six transmitter/receivers (three for each radio) – compared with just two for 802.11a/b/g APs. Depending on the implementation, this additional hardware could consume significantly more power than the 12.95 Watts that 802.3af PoE is designed to deliver across a 100-meter Ethernet cable. Many other WLAN vendors have introduced 802.11n solutions with workarounds to address this problem, which underscores the significance of Siemens’ achievement.
Siemens 802.11n solution enables enterprises to realise the full benefits of 802.11n, without costly upgrades to the backbone network and wireless controller infrastructure, thanks to its unique VNS (Virtual Network Services) architecture. The VNS architecture provides performance optimisation for high-bandwidth applications by intelligently routing network traffic between the edge of the network and the core, depending on the application and available network capacities, to maximise the bandwidth that can be achieved on the network. This architecture was designed to achieve optimal high-bandwidth performance without requiring upgrades to the existing wired network controllers, making it easier and more cost-effective to deploy and integrate the solution across the enterprise. Competitive solutions that require all traffic to be forwarded to the central WLAN controller lead to the potential for significant bottlenecks due to the substantially higher bandwidth of 802.11n. Many vendors require costly upgrades to the wired backbone and new wireless controllers to fully implement 802.11n.
“We were sceptical of Siemens’ claim that .3af power would be sufficient for dual-radio, 3x3 MIMO operation,” said Craig Mathias, a Principal with Farpoint Group and author of its published Technical Note. “It’s ferociously difficult from an engineering standpoint, so we jumped at the chance to verify Siemens’ claims. Mathias tested the HiPath Wireless 802.11n solution within a test network environment that consisted of both integral and add-on .11n clients, PoE switching infrastructure, and benchmarking software. “We saw outstanding performance with both radios running simultaneously at expected 3x3 MIMO throughput levels,” Mathias said.
Tested throughputs ran as high as 143 Mbps – far faster than the typical 25 Mbps maximums of 802.11a/b/g wireless standards. This all took place while the AP drew power across 100m Ethernet cables connected to 802.3af PoE switch ports or .3af-compliant power injectors. ”The test results prove that Siemens has clearly achieved the feat of providing full dual-radio 3x3 MIMO 802.11n while being powered by 802.3af PoE,” Mathias said. “This accomplishment is clearly very difficult, and we expect Siemens to gain some real market advantage from this for some time.”
The Siemens HiPath Wireless APs’ compliance with the PoE 802.3af standard makes installation of 802.11n AP deployments much simpler and much more economical than competing approaches. HiPath Wireless APs only need to be plugged in to existing PoE-enabled Ethernet ports, while other 802.11n solutions could require pulling AC power, additional Ethernet cables, or adding completely new PoE infrastructure like switches or port injectors – all of which are costly and time-consuming.
“We chose Siemens’ HiPath Wireless 802.11n solution because it is ready to deploy now, offers great advantages in how it deals with the PoE issue, and is easy to install,” said Sam Brown, Director of IT Services for the Georgia World Congress Center, a 3.9 million square foot conference, entertainment, and sports venue. “After upgrading the software on our HiPath Controller and doing a few quick configuration changes, all we had to do was unplug our old HiPath Wireless Access Points and plug in the new ones. We were even able to use the same mounting bracket. In all, it took us less than 30 minutes to light up our trial area with 802.11n. Continuing to be a leader in technology in the convention industry is important to us. Now we’ve increase speed, range and reliability of our wireless system, we know it’ll be great for our customers.”
“While 802.11n delivers the higher speed and improved range customers want, the cost and complexity of enabling an existing network to handle 802.11n has held many enterprises back,” said Gavin McCarthy, Business Development Manager for Siemens, Ireland. “A recent IDC report has seen an increasing demand for flexibility and mobility in the work place, and with the Wi-Fi Alliance certification, users can be assured of Siemens’ further commitment to providing best-of-breed solutions that add true value to the enterprise.”
Siemens’ 802.11n solution includes two new 802.11n HiPath Wireless Access Points, AP3610 (internal antenna) and AP3620 (external antenna), a new version of HiPath Wireless Convergence Software (V5 R1) that enables controllers to recognise and manage 802.11n access points, and a new version of HiPath Wireless Manager HiGuard that delivers advanced management and WIPS security for 802.11n-enabled networks, another key advancement from Siemens.
Details of Farpoint Group’s lab tests are available in its published Technical Note (Document FPG 2008-61.1, February 2008), entitled 802.11n Access Points and Power over Ethernet: Key Considerations.
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Pricing and Availability
Siemens’ HiPath Wireless solution will begin shipping in March 2008. The new HiPath Wireless Access Points will sell for €960 ($1,300). Upgrades to the HiPath Wireless Convergence Software will start at €280 ($349) and HiPath Wireless Manager HiGuard upgrades are available free of charge.
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