Everyone else got Happy New Year calls. I got a phone conference from a vendor wanting to add its voice to the great 802.11n access point power debate.
For those of you that missed it, there's an argument going on about how to power enterprise 802.11n access points attached to switched Wi-Fi systems. It's a bit academic, as I don't think many people will be doing 802.11n in the enterprise this year, but it's a real issue: it looks like dual-radio 802.11n access points need more power than can be provided over Ethernet (the way most enterprise APs get their juice).
In a nutshell, the situation we described a few days back is this: Cisco's offering a proprietary power injector that powers two n radios, Trapeze is offering to put power over two Ethernet ports, while Aruba says the power demands are probably within the tolerance of today's power over Ethernet.
Colubris is a smaller Wi-Fi company, but worth watching - it's strong in hospitality and transport and has a partly-distributed architecture a bit like Trapeze's. It announced its n access point in May, as an upgrade to its existing dual-radio access point. As usual for this industry, the 802.11n upgrade isn't actually shipping yet, but will become available this quarter, the company tells me.
From what I gathered from a phone call today, this upgrade model gives Colubris a way to get to 802.11n without breaking the power budget. Upgrade just one of the existing abg radios to n, and the whole AP needs less than 12W, according to Tom Racca, VP of marketing. So it's possible to run 802.11n in the 5GHz band on one radio, and g in the 2.4GHz on the other radio - and power it over Ethernet, even if the access point is on the end of a 100m Ethernet run, says Racca.
The interesting thing is that this is exactly how I expect most people to use 802.11n in the enterprise. There will be plenty of 802.11g devices for a good long while to come, and keeping them on a separate band cuts out the danger of them dragging down the 802.11n traffic.
So I came away from my call wondering why the other vendors aren't doing exactly the same? Is there a flaw in Colubris' arguments?