In a press conference here, the company said 802.11g access points and upgrade kits will be available later this month. The Cisco Aironet 1100 access point will cost $599, while the 1200 series will cost $899. The upgrade kit will cost $149. In addition, Cisco said it expects to release combination 802.11a/b/g cards for notebooks and desktops in the first quarter of 2004. The cards will cost $169 and $249, respectively.
Demand for Wi-Fi gear is currently greatest among consumers looking to bring broadband into their homes. But Cisco projects that businesses will ultimately spend much more on Wi-Fi gear, as security fears fade and IT managers begin to see a positive return on investment, Cisco senior vice president Larry Birenbaum said.
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While 802.11g is only beginning to make inroads in the business marketplace, analysts expect it to supplant the dominant 802.11b standard, because its higher throughput rate allows a wider range of applications, including delivery of bandwidth-intensive real-time video streaming. Approved in June, 802.11g offers theoretical connection speeds as high as 54Mbps, compared with 11Mbps for 802.11b.
A third standard, 802.11a, is also fast enough to support video. Unlike 802.11g, that standard is not compatible with the 802.11b, potentially hampering adoption.
Support of the 802.11g is "table stakes" for any company in the wireless network gear market, Birenbaum said.
Early this year, Cisco launched the Cisco Compatible extension program, which is aimed at speeding the introduction of innovations to Cisco's corporate customers. The program concentrates on improving security, defending against rogue access and improving voice management capabilities of wireless networks.
On Wednesday Cisco announced that notebooks from Dell, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Toshiba as well as client adaptors from Linksys and NetGear have been approved as Cisco-compatible.