CISCO WIRELESS NETWORKING


Cisco didn't get to be the internetworking big boy by sitting around and hoping good fortune would hit them on the head. Instead, they have taken steps to stay on the cutting edge of internetworking technology. Some of their research and investments have paid off, while others have become costly lessons for the development team.

In this section, we'll look at how Cisco has embraced wireless technology and has groomed it as the technology for the new millennium. Then we'll talk about the wireless networking products that Cisco has to offer.

Philosophy

It should come as no surprise that Cisco has not only embraced wireless networking technology, but is also leading the charge. The company's recent acquisitions have come at a great time as the WLAN market heats up and user demand for high-speed access to corporate networks is greater than ever.

Naturally, some of the market's heat is due to Cisco's own behavior. In March 2000, Cisco acquired wireless LAN vendor Aironet Wireless Communications for $799 million. In February 1999, Cisco and Motorola announced a $1-billion partnership to develop a framework for Internet-based wireless networks. To cement the standards over which wireless networks operate, in October 1999, Cisco formed a partnership with ten giant companies to drive standards for broadband wireless Internet services. In November of that year, Cisco introduced its first products based on those standards.

Cisco continues to broaden its wireless market saturation by continual acquisitions. In 2003, Cisco acquired Linksys Group for $500 million. This move brought Cisco more customers from the SOHO/consumer market. Home wireless networks are expected to grow from U.S.$2.7 billion in 2002 to over U.S.$7.5 billion in 2006.

Then, in 2005, Cisco bought Airespace, Inc. for $450 million. This allowed Cisco to reach even more potential business wireless customers through Airespace's APs, management tools, and software. The Airespace equipment allows for centralized configuration and management of multiple APs.

For Cisco, a company that built its fortune and dominance on the wire-line market, the move to wireless is a natural progression-plus a way to keep its thumb in developing areas.

Cisco's Offerings

With all Cisco's acquisitions, it is able to offer a host of product lines serving different types of business clients as well as home users through its Linksys unit. Let's pay special attention here to Cisco's business offerings.

Access Points

Let's start with Cisco's line of APs. At the center of their AP product line are the Aironet devices, but their acquisition of Airespace has added a couple of additional models to the mix. Cisco offers APs in all shapes and sizes. For example, you can get an AP that will handle 802.11b/g connections, but there are also APs that work in trimode. That is, APs like the Aironet 1130AG include two radios that are able to communicate with both 802.11b/g and 802.11a.

Table 8-2 compares Cisco's various APs.

Table 8-2: Cisco's Line of Access Points
 

Cisco 1000 Series Lightweight AP

Aironet 1100

Aironet 1130AG

Aironet 1200

Aironet 1240AG

Aironet 1300

Aironet 1500 Lightweight Outdoor Mesh AP

Network Standard

802.11 a/b/g

802.11 b/g

802.11 a/b/g

802.11 a/b/g

802.11 a/b/g

802.11 b/g

802.11 a/b/g

Speed

1, 2, 5.5, 6, 9, 11, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 54 Mbps

1, 2, 5.5, 6, 9, 11, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 54 Mbps

1, 2, 5.5, 6, 9, 11, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 54 Mbps

1, 2, 5.5, 6, 9, 11, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 54 Mbps

1, 2, 5.5, 6, 9, 11, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 54 Mbps

1, 2, 5.5, 6, 9, 11, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 54 Mbps

1, 2, 5.5, 6, 9, 11, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 54 Mbps

Range

802.11a indoors: up to 165 ft (50 m)

802.11b indoor: up to 410 ft (124m)

802.11a indoors: up to 325 ft (100 m)

802.11g indoors: up to 410 ft (125 m)

802.11g indoors: up to 460 ft (140 m)

With integrated antenna,

Depends on the type of antenna attached

 

Outdoors: up to 1,000 ft (305 m)

Outdoors: up to 700 ft (213 m)

Outdoors: up to 650 ft (198 m)

Outdoors: up to 700 ft (213 m)

Outdoors: up to 950 ft (290 m)

up to 1,410 ft (430 m).

 
 

802.11b indoor: up to 410 ft (124m)

802.11g indoors: up to 410 ft (125 m)

802.11g indoors: up to 450 ft (137 m)

802.11a indoors: up to 500 ft (152 m)

802.11a indoors: up to 330 ft (100 m)

With optional optional add-on antennas

 
 

Outdoors: up to 2,000 ft (610 m)

Outdoors: up to 700 ft (213 m)

Outdoors: up to 950 ft (290 m)

Outdoors: up to 950 ft (290 m)

Outdoors: up to 650 ft (198 m)

, up to 3,465 ft (1055 m)

 
 

802.11g indoors: up to 300 ft (91 m)

      
 

Outdoors: up to 1,300 ft (396 m)

      

Security

802.11i, WPA2, WPA, 802.1X, AES, TKIP

802.11i, WPA2, WPA, 802.1X, AES, TKIP

802.11i, WPA2, WPA, 802.1X, AES, TKIP

802.11i, WPA2, WPA, 802.1X, AES, TKIP

802.11i, WPA2, WPA, 802.1X, AES, TKIP

802.11i, WPA2, WPA, 802.1X, AES, TKIP

802.11i, WPA2, WPA, 802.1X, AES, TKIP

Channels

2.4 GHz band:

Americas: 11

2.4 GHz band:

2.4 GHz band:

2.4 GHz band:

2.4 GHz band:

2.4 GHz band:

 

Americas: 11

China: 13

Americas: 11

Americas: 11

Americas: 11

Americas: 11

Americas: 11

 

China: 13

ETSI: 13

China: 13

China: 13

China: 13

China: 13

China: 13

 

ETSI: 13

Japan: 13

ETSI: 13

ETSI: 13

ETSI: 13

ETSI: 13

ETSI: 13

 

Japan: (OFDM) 13, (CCK) 14

14 (CCK)

Japan: (OFDM) 13, (CCK) 14

Japan: (OFDM) 13, (CCK) 14

Japan: (OFDM) 13, (CCK) 14

Japan: (OFDM) 13, (CCK) 14

Japan: (OFDM) 13, (CCK) 14

 

North America: 11

North America: 11

North America: 11

North America: 11

North America: 11

North America: 11

North America: 11

 

5 GHz band:

 

5 GHz band:

5 GHz band:

5 GHz band:

5 GHz band:

5 GHz band:

 

Americas: 12

 

Americas: 12

Americas: 12

Americas: 12

Americas: 12

Americas: 12

 

China: 4

 

China: 4

China: 4

China: 4

China: 4

China: 4

 

ETSI: 9

 

ETSI: 9

ETSI: 9

ETSI: 9

ETSI: 9

ETSI: 9

 

Japan: 4

 

Japan: 4

Japan: 4

Japan: 4

Japan: 4

Japan: 4

 

North America: 12

 

North America: 12

North America: 12

North America: 12

North America: 12

North America: 12

WLAN Controllers

In Table 8-2, the first product listed is the Cisco 1000 Series Lightweight AP. This line of APs comes from Cisco's acquisition of Airespace. These APs are designed to be easily deployed throughout an organization and then controlled using a WLAN controller. Whereas an AP like a 1240AG contains configuration information within itself, the thin APs rely on configuration information to be sent from a WLAN controller.

These controllers are the center of the wireless LAN operation. They are the devices on which configuration and control information is stored and then sent out to the thin APs.

WLAN controllers maintain such information as:

  • Security policies

  • Intrusion prevention

  • Radio frequency (RF) management

  • QoS (Quality of Service)

  • Mobility

  • AP configuration

But WLAN controllers don't just hand out configuration information. They are able to respond to environmental and usage changes to keep wireless connectivity and throughput high. WLAN controllers allow:

  • Dynamic assignment of channels to reduce interference

  • Interference detection, followed by network optimization to reduce interference

  • Automatic load balancing

  • Coverage holes detected and corrected

  • Automatic power adjustment across the network to specific APs

Cisco offers two series of wireless LAN controllers:

  • The Cisco 2000 Series Wireless LAN Controller is targeted at small to medium-sized enterprise applications. Its AIR-WLC2006-K9 model is capable of controlling up to six thin APs.

  • The Cisco 4400 Series Wireless LAN Controller is targeted at mediumto large-sized enterprises. It has two models: the 4402 and 4404. The 4402 model supports 12, 25, or 50 APs, while the 4404 model supports 100.

Cisco Aironet Wireless Bridges

Wireless bridges are used to connect two or more networks situated at different locations. For example, the bridges can be installed in different schools within a school district and then used to connect each school's LAN into a larger network. Another application might be between floors in a building that is simply hard to wire. The benefit of a wireless bridge is that speeds greater than T1 are achieved, but the organization need not pay for leased lines or install fiber optics.

Cisco offers two models of wireless bridges-the 1300 and 1400 series.

Cisco Aironet 1300 Wireless Bridge The Cisco Aironet 1300 Wireless Bridge is the same as a 1300 series AP. However, the product does dual duty, serving either as an AP or as a bridge. By adding different antennas, the AP can be converted into a bridge.

Cisco Aironet 1400 Wireless Bridge The Cisco Aironet 1400 Wireless Bridge offers connectivity for campuses, metropolitan area networks (MANs), and any situation where wireless connectivity is needed between multiple buildings or in hard-to-wire buildings.

Like other 802.11a devices, the trade-off for high speeds and operation in the 5-GHz band is a much shorter range than with 802.11b/g deployments. The Aironet 1400 Wireless Bridge offers data rates of up to 54 Mbps and can be established for point-to-point links for up to 23 miles and point-to-multipoint connections for up to 11 miles. That range can be extended by using high-gain antennas and lowering the data rates.

The bridge also offers advanced features, like QoS and trunking of up to 24 Voice over IP (VoIP) circuits.

Client Adapters

Cisco's Aironet line offers three different types of client adapters: the Aironet 350 series, the Cisco Aironet Wireless LAN adapter (for both PCI and CardBus flavors), and a 5-GHz, 802.11a adapter. All three adapters use up to 128-bit encryption for added security. The Aironet 350 adapters offer up to 11 Mbps of bandwidth and a range of up to 1,500 feet. The farther away you are from the access point, the slower your connection.

The type of client adapter you have will depend on what kind of computer you have. Laptops and others with a PCMCIA slot will use the PC Card Client Adapter, while desktop and tower models will use the PCI/ISA Client Adapter.

Table 8-3 compares these adapters.

Table 8-3: Cisco's Line of Wireless Client Adapters
 

Cisco Aironet 350

Cisco Aironet CardBus Wireless LAN Adapter

Cisco Aironet PCI Wireless LAN Adapter

Cisco Aironet 5 GHz 54 Mbps 802.11a Wireless LAN Client Adapter

Network Standard

802.11b

802.11 a/b/g

802.11 a/b/g

802.11a

Form Factor

CardBus Type II or PCI

CardBus Type II

PCI

CardBus Type II

Range

Up to 2,000 ft (610 m)

Up to 2,000 ft (610 m)

Up to 2,000 ft (610 m)

Up to 1,200 ft (355 m)

Speed

1, 2, 5.5, and 11 Mbps

1, 2, 5.5, 6, 9, 11, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 54 Mbps

1, 2, 5.5, 6, 9, 11, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 54 Mbps

6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 54 Mbps

Security

WEP, TKIP and 802.1X

WEP, TKIP, WPA, 802.11i and 802.1X

WEP, TKIP, WPA, 802.11i and 802.1X

WEP, TKIP, WPA, 802.11i and 802.1X




Cisco. A Beginner's Guide
Cisco: A Beginners Guide, Fourth Edition
ISBN: 0072263830
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 102

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