Both my primary laptop and my new redacted support dual-band 802.11n wireless and I have not been thrilled with the performance of 802.11g in general. Another issue with being stranded in the 2.4GHz band is that there are a lot of access points in my area and trying to get a decent, clear channel is nigh impossible.
So, I started shopping for a dual-band 802.11n (draft or not) access point and really wanted to pick up a Cisco Aironet 1140 802.11a/b/g/n access point. I deal with Cisco Aironet 1231G and 1242G access points on a daily basis at work, so rooting around in IOS would not be an issue for me. The problem? It would cost a blistering $650-670 and that is without a maintenance subscription. Way too much and would not work too well, as it is meant to be hung on a wall or clipped to the support bars of a false ceiling.
I also considered Cisco’s entry SMB wireless access point, the AP 541N, but did not hear a lot of good things about it nor would I want to pay the Cisco premium on a device that I could not jump into an IOS, PIX/ASA or NX-OS shell. I also looked at a Cisco WAP4410N and, while promising in terms of features, but it does not support the 5GHz band that I so wanted.
So I finally settled on the D-Link DAP-2553 dual-band access point and it was about the right price. I got the access point last night and started setting it up so that the first SSID would run on the 5GHz band, then ran into a lovely limitation: the access point can only use one of the two bands, but not both at once. Lame. For now, I have to leave my older 802.11g access point up and running for devices that do not support the 5Ghz band, and that includes: iPhone 3G, Evo 4G, the-iPhone 3G-replacement Evo Shift 4G, Sony PSP, Squeezebox, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS/DSi XL.
While not optimal, it does allow me to at least somewhat segregate non-802.11n devices from destroying the bandwidth for the 802.11n devices. Also, I do not really care about squeezing out the last 1Mbps on those devices either.
With the latest firmware available for the DAP-2553, I was able to finish setting up the access point so that it would use my home NTP server (had to be entered as an IP address rather than hostname). I haven’t spent too much time to see if the device supports sending logs out to a Syslog server, something that my 802.11g access point can do.
In terms of performance, I need to test copying a large ISO from my file server and two my two laptops. I did notice a drop in overall latency when on wireless, versus wired, when working over SSH connections to my servers at home. Both devices see a full signal from the access point (whether the access point sees a full signal from the devices is true, I don’t know yet) and negotiate at the full 300Mbps speed. Even with the run from the new access point to the switch and the long haul to the main switch are all Gigabit (I only have one 100Mbps switch, and that’s the one integrated into my Cisco PIX 501 firewall), my DSL connection is still like a stupidly small straw.
At the end of the day, I am disappointed that, unlike a proper Cisco Aironet, the D-Link device cannot use both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands so that I can collapse all of my wireless devices on to one access point. One of these days, I’ll pick up a proper Cisco Aironet or equivalent device that can run both bands and proper roaming.