With users still hesitating to adopt the new 802.11n Wi-Fi standard, network vendor Aruba is offering an access point that will deliver 802.11abg today, but can be upgraded to 802.11n later with a software key.

"We're offering our 802.11n AP at a 23 percent discount," said European director of marketing Roger Hockaday. This takes it down from a £700 to £539, he said. As purchased, the access point will only operate in 802.11abg mode, but users can upgrade it to 802.11n later by paying a fee to download a licence. The fee for the upgrade should be roughly the same as the discount, when purchased in significant numbers, he said.

"This has been quite a common request," he said. "People want to buy kit now, and they want to move to 802.11n, but they don't want to use 802.11n for another six months or so. This way, they can upgrade without having to swap out hardware twice."

Like other vendors, Aruba has a bundle of announcement timed for next week's Interop event in Las Vegas. It is also announcing a new version of its Network Chemistry management and security software, which includes the ability to support dynamic threat signatures in the intrusion prevention system (IPS). "Users can define their own signature in response to an attack, and then upload it to us and to the WVE," said Hockaday. (WVE is the Wireless Vulnerabilities and Exploits group).

The company has also added 3G backhaul to its remote AP for mobile workers and small offices. If there is no Ethernet or broadband for it to link back to the central office with, it can use a 3G network.

Interestingly, Aruba's 802.11n releases now claim of its 802.11n access points, that "full 802.11n performance is delivered using existing 802.3af Power-over-Ethernet (PoE), precluding the need for an expensive PoE upgrade" - a slight change from its original stance that the products would operate at full power with "the majority" of 802.3af PoE installations.