October 18, 2010, 8:41 PM — At 4G World this week, Ruckus Wireless is announcing new 802.11n Wi-Fi products aimed at wireless network operators, for indoor and outdoor coverage that can offload their cellular data networks.
The products, which incorporate a new antenna design based on Ruckus' patented antenna array to optimize client throughput, are intended to create a mesh Wi-Fi edge and high-capacity backhaul for cellular, WiMAX, LTE and other network operators. Among the new customers are U.S.-based Towerstream, and others in Chile, India, Malaysia and Thailand.
STEL, a Chilean broadband provider, has deployed the Ruckus products in a city-wide outdoor Wi-Fi network in Maipu, with 650,000 people over about 80 square miles. For many households and businesses, it's their first Internet connection. STEL offers tiered Wi-Fi access ranging from 600Kbps to 2 Mbps, for $20 to $40.
The new products include 11n mesh access points, point-to-point and point-to-multipoint 11n bridges for backhaul, and on-premises Wi-Fi gateways linking homes and businesses to the access network.
The premise-based MediaFlex 7200 gateway, which is intended as a low-cost connection from a home or business to an outdoor Ruckus access point. It can also work as a high-gain repeater within a building. Three models are available: indoor, indoor with external antenna connection, and outdoor. They start at $99.
All three models link to the ZoneFlex 7762-S, an outdoor access point than can server up to 600Mbps of throughput. A mesh protocol lets these devices route traffic through each other to optimize throughput with the best route and simplify deployment. High signal gain and interference rejection boost the range, sustain higher data rates at greater range, and improve signal penetration into buildings, according to the vendor. It's priced at $1,999.
Bridging the 7762 devices is accomplished with the ZoneFlex 7731, a 5GHz 11n outdoor bridge that can sustain 300Mbps data rates over several kilometers. The bridge monitors throughput and can automatically select the best channel to optimize traffic. The bridges are $1,199 per unit.
Carriers and network operators have been Ruckus targets almost since its founding. But with the skyrocketing demand for mobile data applications including video, 802.11n products combined with both standard and proprietary improvements in signal quality, are making Wi-Fi a more affordable and higher-performing option to offload what's called "best effort" data traffic from cellular networks, extend new services to cellular data users (service that don't consume expensive minutes), and create a cost-effective last-mile wireless technology.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.