Targeting hotel networking, Ruckus unveils 802.11n Wi-Fi wall switch, PoE line

With its ZoneFlex Wi-Fi Wall Switch and associated line of PoE products, Ruckus says it now offers an unmatched connectivity platform for the hospitality industry.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- HITEC EXHIBITION/CONFERENCE -- Ruckus Wireless unveiled its ZoneFlex 7025 Wi-Fi Wall Switch, which integrates high speed 802.11n Wi-Fi technology with wired Ethernet ports into "an elegant, inconspicuous and low-profile wall jack" that fits into any standard United States or European electrical junction box. Complementing the Wi-Fi Wall Switch, Ruckus also unveiled its ZoneSwitch line of 802.3at/af power over Ethernet (POE) switches.

Ruckus says the Wi-Fi Wall Switch redefines the deployment model and cost structure for hotels looking to converge their wired and wireless networks into a single infrastructure capable of reliably connecting a new world of in-room IP-based devices and services. Via the product, hotels can offer multiple, high-value IP-based services over a single wired/wireless network at a low cost per room.

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"For hotels, the first thing that must be achieved from a guest technology perspective is wireless everywhere," offers Douglas Rice, Executive Vice President and CEO of Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG), a non-profit industry trade association. "Beyond that, the hospitality market clearly sees the enormous benefits that an IP-based network brings in delivering a better guest experience, new services that will drive customer loyalty and better staff productivity across their hotels."

Ruckus says its Wi-Fi Wall Switch was purposely developed to meet the growing demands within hotels to connect in-room devices that are now IP-enabled while concurrently supporting a broader range of IP-based services. Beyond high-speed Internet access (HSIA), hotels want to deliver services such as high definition television and video on demand (VOD), digital advertising, voice communications, hotel service optimization, in-room device monitoring and even environmental room controls - over a single, unified and centrally managed wired/wireless network.

According to Ruckus, the Wi-Fi Wall Switch offers hotels a simple in-room device that addresses these requirements and solves IT problems that have long hampered hotels such as:


-- Operating disparate wired and wireless networks,
-- Unsightly cables and network devices within hotel guest rooms,
-- Installing more Ethernet cables in guest rooms and other areas to
connect new IP-based devices,
-- Running additional Ethernet cabling to support standalone Wi-Fi access
points,
-- Deploying in-room switches and other infrastructure necessary for
network connectivity and;
-- Retrofitting furniture and hotel aesthetics to hide or accommodate
networking equipment.

The Ruckus ZoneFlex Wi-Fi Wall Switch is also billed as ideal for filling "void areas" within hotels and schools such as corners of buildings, conference rooms and other locations where ubiquitous wired and wireless coverage is not pervasive. For many hotels, Ethernet access in conference rooms is typically handled by bringing in a switch to provide wired connectivity if wireless isn't available. The Ruckus ZoneFlex Wi-Fi Wall Switch eliminates this problem allowing multiple devices to connect using both wires and Wi-Fi. In addition, the product is aimed at service providers and property owners seeking to deliver high value IP-based services to their customers.

Ruckus contends that, for many existing hotels, Ethernet cabling is sparse or not available in every guest room. Even in locations such as the front desk, conference rooms, meeting spaces and business centers, Ethernet ports and wireless connectivity is limited. Hotels that have deployed an extensive wired Ethernet network often need more ports to connect new IP-enabled devices and to support new multimedia services. Ethernet switches can be installed in guest rooms, but this requires more power, can be disruptive and often involves custom furniture design to hide the devices. This may add significant cost, complexity and management problems.

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The wireless provider maintains that, according to industry estimates, running a single Ethernet cable can cost up to $250 per guest room. When Wi-Fi access points, network switches, and other infrastructure products essential to running a computer network are added that cost can rise to $500 or more per room. For many hoteliers, notes Ruckus, Wi-Fi has been an afterthought to the wired network with access points being retrofitted throughout the property to provide a base level of wireless connectivity to guests. But as many new services and hotel devices embrace IP as the preferred method of connectivity and management, the requirement for a unified wired and wireless network has quickly become a necessity.

"Today's hotel guests depend on both wired and wireless high-speed Internet, and it can be difficult or expensive for existing hotels to do both well. Many hotels need devices that support both, and that can be easily installed into existing infrastructures," adds Rice.

Deployed as a standalone device or centrally managed by any ZoneDirector wireless LAN controller or Ruckus FlexMaster Wi-Fi management system, Ruckus says that its Wi-Fi Wall Switch reduces the cost and complexity of installing and managing wired and wireless network services.

The Ruckus Wi-Fi Wall Switch is driven by a single Power over Ethernet (PoE) connection and provides four 10/100 Mbps Ethernet jacks and two uplink Ethernet wiring options. Additionally, the Ruckus Wi-Fi Wall Switch uses PoE to power a device such as an IP phone and provides native connectivity to digital phones through a single digital PBX pass through port.

As a companion platform, the Ruckus ZoneSwitch 4000 series is a family of fully-managed, rack-mountable, Layer 2, 24-port 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet POE switches. Each ZoneSwitch offers full security, QoS and management features and provides four dual-personality ports that support pluggable fiber transceivers for easy and flexible network uplink.

Interoperable with Ruckus ZoneFlex APs, the ZoneSwitch comes in two models. The ZoneSwitch 4224 offers 375 watts of power over Ethernet and supports 12 concurrent IEEE 802.3at or 24 concurrent 802.3af connections across all ports. The ZoneSwitch 4124 offers 180 watts of power over Ethernet and supports 12 concurrent IEEE 802.3af connections across all ports. The Ruckus ZoneSwitch line will support central management through the Ruckus FlexMaster system.

With the addition of the ZoneFlex Wi-Fi Wall Switch and ZoneSwitch line of PoE products, Ruckus says it offers an unmatched solution for the hospitality industry that includes: indoor and outdoor smart Wi-Fi access points, scalable centralized controllers, multimedia video adapters, long-range point to point bridges and remote Wi-Fi management.

Available in the fourth quarter of this year, the Ruckus ZoneFlex 7025 Wi-Fi Wall Switch is priced at $249. The Ruckus ZoneSwitch 4224 and 4124, available in the third quarter of this year, are priced at $1,999 and $1,399 respectively.

For more information, visit Ruckus Wireless at http://www.ruckuswireless.com/.

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