Cisco Quietly Releases New Access Point

There have been a lot rumors of a new, low cost, CleanAir access point from Cisco coming out soon. Well, it appears to have come out in early to mid July with zero fanfare. I had heard a few things about what it was going to possibly be (a replacement for the 1100 or 1200 series or a draft 802.11ac version of the 3500 were the two most prominent). As it turns out, it’s neither of them. It is orderable now with limited release (so you may have to push you account manager to get your hands on it). There are little details on the device unless you really go digging and make some calls, but I have done the leg work for you.

Cisco's New 2600 Series APThe New 2600 Series AP

The Cisco 2600 series AP, pictured left, seems to fall smack in the middle of the 3500 and 3600 series models. It offers all the features of the 3500 (dual band 802.11a/b/g/n, Band Select, Video Stream, Flex Connect, Adaptive wIPS, Rogue Detection, CleanAir, FlexConnect, and Mesh capabilities) but adds a couple little things. First of all, the 3500 is a 2×3:2 (2 Tx, 3Rx, 2 spatial streams) access point offering up to a whopping 300Mbps data rate. The 2600 climbs above this to a 3×4:3 configuration sporting a maximum 450Mbps data rate (matching the 4×4:3 3600 access point when using 40MHz channel width on 5GHz). The second feature that sets it apart from its slightly older, slightly inferior, brother is ClientLink 2.0. ClientLink is Cisco Marketing’s brand name for transmit beamforming that claims faster connections and more efficient battery usage on mobile devices but has been known to cause some client inconsistencies and issues for some networks. The last difference is the antenna configuration. Cisco seems to be pretty happy with the dual band antennas and has included them in this access point. That means 4 external antennas both serving the 2.4 and 5GHz radios.

Here’s a bit of the nitty gritty details for all you wifi nerds:

  • The AP will be available in 4 versions, AIR-CAP2602I-A-K9 & AIR-CAP2602E-A-K9 (Controller based interior and exterior respectively) and AIR-SAP2602I-A-K9 & AIR-SAP2602E-A-K9 (Autonomous interior and exterior respectively).
  • They will require WLC code 7.3 or greater on the 2500 WLC, the WLCM or SRE for ISRG2, WiSM2, 5500 WLC, and the Flex 7500.
  • The internal antenna gain is 4dBi on both 2.4 and 5GHz radios and the APs are certified for up to 6dBi on an external model.
  • The transmit power is maxed out at 22dBm(160mW) across 3 antennas on the 2.4 GHz radio and 23dBm(200mW) across 4 antennas on the 5GHz radio.
  • The power draw is maxed out at 15.4W, so no upgrade needed if you aren’t running PoE+.
  • Utilizes the same antenna design and part numbers as the 3600 series.

My Thoughts: It seems to be a nice little access point filling the gap for those that don’t need or want the modularity of a 3600 but want a bit better performance out of their Cisco Unified Wireless Network than the 3500 series they may be ordering to save money. I’m hoping to get a unit to demo and run through some tests to see how the performance compares in the real world to my already running 3500 and 3600 APs. Speaking of money, the list price on these little guys is approximately $1100 and $1200 for the “i” and “e” versions respectively.

Note: People might complain about the price being so much higher than some of the other competitors out there… No one pays list. In my experience, Cisco is discounting equipment at much higher rates than anyone else. By the way, if you are paying list price for your Cisco equipment, I’ve got some snake oil I can sell you really cheap.
08/09/2012 EDIT: Corrected part numbers. (Too many dashes)

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