Cisco Linksys gear targets boom in home use of 802.11n wireless nets

Cisco has announced a series of routers and switches designed to cope with the explosion of home networked devices, from smartphones to desktops to Internet-enabled televisions.

Cisco says that the market for wireless routers at home, especially 802.11n gear, is ripe for expansion. It cites a November report by IDC found that only 39% of U.S. households have wireless, and only 11% use 802.11n devices. Adoption of 802.11n is expected to nearly double over the next five years, as home users purchase and install Wi-Fi based devices, including smart phones, tablet computers and Internet-enabled televisions, Cisco says.

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The new E-Series routers include the E1200 $ 60 entry-level (replacing the E1000), the $ 80 E1500, the E2500 $ 100 (simultaneous dual-band) and the E3200 $ 160 (home entertainment, motor .) At the high end of Cisco’s most widely distributed of the E4200 $ 180, which was announced in January.

Cisco also announced three new switches – the SE1500 $ 30 provides five 10/100 ports, the $ 55 SE2500 features five Gigabit Ethernet ports, and $ 75 SE2800 offers eight additional Gigabit Ethernet ports. The switches provide QoS for traffic prioritization, and auto-sensing ports “sleep mode” power saving options (for both high-end switches).

new crop of Cisco routers include IPv6 yet, but Cisco promises that a free firmware update will be available by fall. IPv6 Cisco had promised to ship in April, the high-end E4200 launched in January, and the company reiterated that the promise of the World Wide Web last week.

As for the rest of routers, the availability of firmware updates trickle, “said Scott Kabat, director of marketing for Cisco Consumer Products. The firmware update will install automatically, but requires the user to manually activate the open management software. Cisco has not yet revealed whether the firmware updates that include IPv6 will be made available to any router introduced before 2011.

Like the router E4200, the E3200 includes a USB port to connect an external hard drive, creating a storage device connected to the network that operates through the router. The E3200 also supports virtual USB option, which allows the ability to connect USB printers over the network. However, Cisco says this may require a software / firmware update, scheduled for the summer.

Each of the new Cisco routers also includes the Connect software, which aims to make installation easier and router support parental controls that include access to the time of day and domain blocking. It also allows configuration of network-independent access assessment for visitors.