Networking vendor 3Com has not often been a technology leader and innovator, but more often considered a fast follower. In the enterprise wireless space the hot topic is 802.11n, and 3Com is in pursuit.
According to Jeff Schwartz, Director of Product Management Enterprise Wireless Solutions at 3Com, 3Com will have an enterprise 802.11n product by mid to late 2008. This puts 3Com's planned product availability just prior to Nortel, who announced earlier this year their intentions to enter the enterprise Wi-Fi market with a product separate from Trapeze Networks. Ironically, 3Com OEMs Trapeze Networks' gear to supply their enterprise line of Wi-Fi products. Despite the fact that Trapeze Networks announced their 802.11n lineup this past spring and their product doesn't appear to be shipping in quantity, it???s unlikely that it???s Trapeze???s product availability that is delaying 3Com???s 802.11n launch.
Relationships aside, 3Com believes that 802.11n will become big in the enterprise, but not as quickly as some may think. Schwartz anticipates that mass adoption will more likely occur in 2009 than next year. Vendors are still rolling out 1st generation product and most enterprises will wait until the IEEE ratifies the standard (hopefully 2008, could be 2009) instead of risk being stranded with access points that don???t work with the final standard. That???s unlikely to happen, considering the momentum behind the Draft 2.0 revision and the Wi-Fi Alliance???s own certification essentially endorsing this stage of the draft.
It appears that 3Com is attempting to redefine the state of the market to match product availability. Even Cisco, which is generally conservative in the timing of their product plans and announcements, let their news out a few weeks ago, and Aruba also restrained themselves and didn???t issue a press relrease until a few days ago. Perhaps 3Com has expanded their relationship with NextHop beyond SMB products and plans to transition away from Trapeze for their enterprise line?
3Com plans to have 802.11n product for their SMB line in the first quarter of 2008.