Siemens Solves Power over Ethernet Challenge for 802.11n Deployments

As more enterprises embrace mobility, they are faced with an increasing need for cost-effective, higher-performance wireless LANs (WLANs).

While 802.11n delivers the higher speed and improved range they want, the cost and complexity of enabling an existing network to handle 802.11n has held many enterprises back.

The new HiPath Wireless 802.11n solution from Siemens Enterprise Communications is the first 802.11n solution 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.

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 wireless LAN (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.

HiPath Wireless is the first solution to provide full dual-band 3x3 MIMO and 802.11n functionality that complies with the 802.3af Power-over Ethernet (PoE) standard, so enterprises can enjoy the highest performance without additional costs.

Most enterprise WLANs rely on 802.3af switches, but the six radios used by 802.11n access points tend to draw more power than these switches can provide over a single connection.

Some existing 802.11n solutions use a reduced number of radios or frequency bands, or force customers to simultaneously upgrade to higher-wattage, proprietary non-standard PoE switching infrastructure, resulting in significantly reduced performance and more complex and costly deployments.

"Enterprises are excited about 802.11n and the potential for new, high-performance wireless applications. But so far they have been hesitant to embrace the new technology out of concern that it will require significant changes to their existing network," said Paul DeBeasi, senior analyst for Burton Group. "Siemens' dual-band, 3x3 MIMO Access Points enable enterprises to deploy an 802.11n network using their existing 802.3af-compliant infrastructure."

Siemens 802.11n solution enables enterprises to realize 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.

Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC), one of the world's leading convention, sports and entertainment venues, deployed the previous version of Siemens' HiPath Wireless solution in December 2005 in response to increasing demand from venue users for wireless connectivity.

With a campus that includes a 3.9 million square foot conference centre, the Georgia Dome stadium and the 21-acre Centennial Olympic Park, GWCC enjoyed the flexibility and ease of use offered by the Siemens system.

They are preparing to begin field trials of the new 802.11n HiPath Wireless solution in January 2008, to take advantage of the increased speed, range and reliability of 802.11n.

"We've been very pleased with the functionality and stability of our existing Siemens HiPath Wireless solution, and we're excited about the potential that 802.11n offers for improved performance and range," said Sam Brown, Director of IT Services for the centre. "The fact that Siemens' 802.11n portfolio does not require us to upgrade our switching infrastructure or our WLAN controllers ensures that we can seamlessly integrate 802.11n into our network with minimal cost and effort. Continuing to be a leader in technology in the convention industry is important to us. When we can increase speed, range and reliability of our wireless system, we know it'll be great for our customers."

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.

"In support of the mobile enterprise, Siemens now has a HiPath Wireless offering for new and existing customers looking to benefit from the considerable speed and reliability benefits provided by 802.11n technology," said Luc Roy, vice president of Enterprise Mobility for Siemens. "The unique architecture and capabilities that we have designed into HiPath Wireless can give any enterprise the confidence that they can easily and cost-effectively deploy a high-performance wireless network, while taking care of ever increasing mobile business."