Bluesocket has launched an access point that uses MIMO technology for fast Wi-Fi - carving out the distinction of being the first to offer MIMO to enterprises.

The Blusecure BSAP-1700 access point should give 30 percent better range and speed, even with ordinary non-MIMO clients. It isn't one of the "draft-N" products currently being criticised for lack of interoperability, but Bluesocket has promised that it will be upgradeable to the 802.11n standard, by replacing the Wi-Fi card in the access point.

The industry's dawning realisation that real 802.11n standard products are at least a year away makes this a good time to launch a non-standard MIMO product - and Bluesocket mentions this timeline in its announcement.

Users that need better performance can get a year's use out of this access point, and the promised upgrade to a standard product is therefore less of a gamble. "We're not looking to make money off of the upgrade kits," Bluesocket marketing director Mike Puglia told Wi-Fi Planet. "They'll be less than $100 for two cards."

It works with existing 802.11a/b/g clients and boosts their performance, so users do not need to upgrade to an entire proprietary system, Bluesocket says.

An early player in the enterprise Wi-Fi market, Bluesocket started out with a "fat" access point architecture, which lost out to thin access points. The company has hung in there, upgraded its system, and focussed on the mid-size market.

In this sector, users are likely to be more demanding of the technology than the big enterprises which play it safe, Bluesocket marketing vice president Dave Danielson told us a few weeks ago: "We will be aggressive in boosting the performance of the AP, " he said. "We intend to be the market leading AP company." (read the interview here).

Unlike consumer access points, the AP has Gigabit Ethernet and power-over-Ethernet. At $795, it also has an enterprise level price. Bluesocket says this looks cheap compared to the list price of Cisco's 1200, but then - since Cisco is the incumbent vendor here - so would most things.