Ruckus Wireless launches end-to-end 802.11n Wi-Fi system targeting mobile Internet carriers

Oct. 19, 2010
The company says its ZoneFlex 802.11n Mobile Internet system delivers all the essential elements for building a Wi-Fi access infrastructure.

CHICAGO -- 4G WORLD CONFERENCE -- Ruckus Wireless has announced an expanded range of carrier-grade Smart Wi-Fi products designed allow moble Internet operators to leverage unlicensed spectrum in more wireless applications and services while addressing unrelenting demand for mobile Internet capacity and coverage. The company says its ZoneFlex 802.11n Mobile Internet system delivers, for the first time, all the essential elements for building a robust, reliable and high-speed Wi-Fi access infrastructure.

Billed as the first comprehensive 802.11n system developed for wireless carrier infrastructures, the new Ruckus Mobile Internet products include an outdoor Smart-Sector mesh access point (ZoneFlex 7762-S), a point-to-multipoint wireless backhaul bridge (ZoneFlex 7731), indoor/outdoor customer premises equipment (MediaFlex 7200 series), and system-wide remote Wi-Fi management (FlexMaster 9.0) proven to manage tens of thousands of Smart Wi-Fi network elements and hundreds of thousands of Wi-Fi clients.

According to Ruckus, the products are suitable for carriers looking to: reduce subscriber churn by bundling Wi-Fi services; offload best effort wireless data traffic from expensive cellular networks; offer value added services such as Wi-Fi wholesaling and managed enterprise wireless LANs; provide last-mile wireless broadband access where fixed line or macro-cellular based wireless service is not viable; and augment backhaul capabilities with a low cost, low power Wi-Fi alternative.

Product details, according to the company, include:

ACCESS: Carrier-Grade 802.11n Smart Sector Mesh Access Points

ZoneFlex 7762-S is the first high-speed, dual-band 802.11n Smart Wi-Fi outdoor access point that integrates a dual-polarized, sectorized, smart antenna array capable of delivering 600 Mbps of throughput, up to 10dBi of signal gain and 15dB of interference rejection within a 120 degree beam width. This provides for much longer range signals, better signal penetration into buildings and more resilient mesh connections that adapt to interference and changing environmental conditions. IP-67 rated, the ZoneFlex 7762-S can be deployed as a standalone AP or as part of a unified wireless system managed by the Ruckus ZoneDirector WLAN controller or FlexMaster Wi-Fi management system. Self-provisioning, self organizing and self-healing, the ZoneFlex 7762-S mesh AP provides unprecedented deployment simplicity.

BACKHAUL: High-Speed, Long Range 802.11n Point to Multipoint Bridges

ZoneFlex 7731 is an 802.11n (5GHz) point-to-point and point-to-multipoint outdoor bridge capable of extending Wi-Fi signals over kilometers at data rates of up to 300 Mbps. The ZoneFlex 7731 is the only high-speed Wi-Fi bridging system that automatically selects the best channel based on actual throughput measurements. The ZoneFlex 7731 features IP-65 rated environmental support, a single ZoneFlex 7731 supports multiple high-speed remote links and operates at -40 degrees C – 65 degrees C (-40 degrees F – 149 degrees F). The ideal solution as a low-cost, high performance backhaul connection for GSM or data traffic, the ZoneFlex 7731 is lightweight (2 lbs.) and features a dual-polarized directional antenna delivering 14dBi of gain with a 30 degree beam width for simple positioning and aiming.

CPE: Indoor and Outdoor 802.11n Wi-Fi Gateways

MediaFlex 7200 is a line of low cost, carrier-class 802.11n (2.4Ghz) Wi-Fi gateways for homes and businesses. Each MediaFlex 7200 integrates a dual-polarized antenna array for better indoor signal propagation of outdoor Wi-Fi networks. The 7200 can function as a high-gain repeater and includes three models: indoor only, outdoor only and an indoor model with an external antenna connector.

MANAGEMENT: Carrier-Class Remote Wi-Fi System Management

FlexMaster 9.0 is a Wi-Fi management system that lets carriers monitor, troubleshoot and configure an entire Smart Wi-Fi network, down to the client level, from a single point of control. FlexMaster 9.0 provides an intuitive and at-a-glance dashboard that can be customized on a per administrator basis – helping administrators to quickly identify network issues or potential trouble areas. FlexMaster 9.0 also includes graphical reporting to help operators monitor capacity and performance against committed service level agreements (SLA). Detailed information such as RSSI (signal strength) for client devices and mesh APs, mesh topology and hop counts as well as client trending data gives operators visibility into and control over the Wi-Fi network end to end. Leveraging FlexMaster's delegated administration capability, managed service providers can offer advanced managed Wi-Fi services to customers - providing different customers the ability to manage and monitor their network using the same management platform while maintaining the clear separation between their networks and administrative privileges.

In a press release, Ruckus noted that its Mobile Internet products have been selected by several next generation service providers around the world including Towerstream (U.S.), Jaring (Malaysia), STEL (Chile), WiNet (Malaysia), SawasdeeSHOP (Thailand) and Tikona Digital Networks (India).

Fueled by the rapid adoption of smart mobile devices and media-rich mobile apps, the worldwide market for mobile data continues to accelerate. As of mid-2010, US mobile data revenue had risen 22% year over year, according to Chetan Sharma Consulting, although bandwidth consumption of an average US mobile subscriber had grown at a much faster pace of 50% in just the first 6 months, to 230MB per month. The explosive mobile data traffic growth is eroding operator profit margins and threatening to degrade wireless network performance. As mobile operators consider their options, Wi-Fi has emerged as one of the simplest solutions to increase wireless capacity at a much reduced cost.

"Until now Wi-Fi has largely been viewed as a band-aid for cellular operators," said Brian Modoff, managing director and senior telecommunications analyst at Deutsche Bank Securities, Inc. "Given the current market dynamics, Wi-Fi and related value-added services represent a key strategic option that carriers have to react to commoditization pressures that threaten to undermine their business."

"Wi-Fi is the simplest, most cost effective tool for service providers to address the disparity between exponential demand for wireless capacity and the linear supply of available wireless spectrum," said Selina Lo, president and CEO of Ruckus Wireless. "We are breaking new ground with the first carrier purposed 802.11n infrastructure solutions that deliver more extensive coverage, higher capacity, greater user density and steadier performance while preserving the reliability, price-performance and ease of deployment advantages that has set us apart from conventional Wi-Fi alternatives."

Lo noted that Wi-Fi will be an essential part of the Mobile Internet infrastructure even as carriers migrate from 3G to LTE technology. Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi innovations will harness reliable wireless capacity from unlicensed spectrum bands to augment expensive 3G and 4G spectrum resources.

Conventional Wi-Fi had raised doubts among mobile operators because of its inability to guarantee service quality over unlicensed spectrum. To maximize network resiliency, coverage and performance from the crowded, unregulated spectrum bands, Ruckus has tapped into its patented BeamFlex technology, combining a newly designed Smart Sector antenna array with best path selection software and automatic interference rejection to deliver a new class of Wi-Fi for wireless operators.

Furthermore, Ruckus Smart Mesh Networking technology also enables more efficient spatial reuse. By varying the direction of each packet transmission, adjacent mesh APs often can transmit simultaneously on the same channel, thereby maximizing usable capacity. In addition, unique hybrid meshing capability (meshing Smart Wi-Fi APs over wired Ethernet connections) optimizes network performance by reducing mesh hops while enabling on-demand capacity scaling. For operators, Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi now opens the door to a variety of new carrier services such as 3G offloading, wholesale Wi-Fi/managed WLAN services and cost efficient last-mile wireless broadband access.

Towerstream, one of the nation's leading high-speed wireless broadband providers, has selected the ZoneFlex 7762-S Smart Sector AP as part of an R&D initiative to address the explosive growth of data traffic on 3G mobile networks.

"With mobile data growing at 150% per year, operators face the chilling prospect of doubling the capacity of network equipment every 18 months," said Jeff Thompson, president and CEO of Towerstream. "Smarter Wi-Fi infrastructure delivers capacity much faster at pennies of what telcos are used to paying. Recent technical advances in Wi-Fi technology, like those pioneered by Ruckus, are proving that offloading data traffic from 3G devices is the most expedient and cost effective approach an operator can take in the near term."

Tikona Digital Networks in India has employed Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi systems to build the world's largest outdoor commercial Wi-Fi mesh network to date - having deployed over 30,000 ZoneFlex mesh nodes in dozens of the largest cities in India over the past 18 months to deliver wireless broadband services to residential and business subscribers.

Based in Santiago, Chile, STEL is a next generation broadband wireless operator (see related release) that has deployed hundreds of ZoneFlex 7762 802.11n mesh access points to deliver reliable Wi-Fi services to tens of thousands of households in Chile. "Smarter Wi-Fi systems, such as those pioneered by Ruckus Wireless, are redefining the wireless carrier space by addressing fundamental issues related to cost, range, reliability, simplified deployment and management," said Alejandro Ulloa, managing director of STEL.

Available immediately, the Ruckus Mobile Internet solution includes: the ZoneFlex 7762-S 802.11n mesh access point priced at US $1999, the ZoneFlex 7731 802.11n point-to-multipoint bridge priced at $1199 per device or $2398 per pair, the ZoneFlex 7200 series 802.11n Wi-Fi gateways starting at $99 and FlexMaster 9.0 starting at $5,000.

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