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Meraki Introduces Cloud Managed 802.11n Access Points

Less than an inch think with internal antennas, both the dual concurrent and single radio access points can support more than 100 users.

Meraki MR16 802.11n Wireless Access Point
(click image for larger view)
Meraki MR16 802.11n Wireless Access Point

Meraki announced Thursday two 802.11n wireless access points intended for use in SMBs and enterprises. The access points replace two previous models -- the MR11 and MR14 -- in the cloud-based networking vendor family of 802.11n products.

According to Kiren Sekar, product marketing manager at Meraki, the access points are appropriate for "an organization with at least 100 users/devices, which could be across multiple locations. We recommend one access point every 3,000 square feet, which is roughly about one for every 20 employees. A device can handle about 100 users."

Both access points do not need pre-configuration, instead downloading settings from Meraki's Cloud Controller. They also include spectrum analysis, which lets the access points identify interference from non-Wi-Fi sources such as Bluetooth headsets or microwave ovens; application-aware traffic shaping; and a policy firewall for guest, user and group-based access control features. The APs can also automatically detect gateway or mesh mode operation.

The Meraki MR16 ($649) is a dual-concurrent 802.11n access point, designed for enterprise and campus deployments. Dual-concurrent devices include two radios that can operate simultaneously. 802.11n can use both the 5Ghz frequency used by 802.11a and the 2.4Ghz frequency used by 802.11b/g. "The two-radio configuration lets newer 802.11n client devices use 5Ghz, and get the fastest possible performance while reducing crowding, while existing 802.11b/g devices use the other frequency," said Sekar.

The Meraki MR12 ($399) is a single-radio 802.11n access point, for small branches, teleworkers and home offices. "The MR12 can be used with 802.11b/g devices, so performance will be slower than using the dual-radio AP, but it's more affordable," said Sekar.

According to Meraki, both APs have improved radio performance -- greater transmit power and receive sensitivity -- over their predecessors, thanks to 4th-generation 2x2 MIMO chipsets, which deliver speeds up to 300 mbit/sec for the MR12 and 600 mbit/sec for the MR16. Both APs also support higher capacities -- over 100 users per AP.

According to Meraki, the access points are also the industry's "slimmest 802.11n Access Points" -- less than one inch thin, with the antennas internal. Since Access Points often have to be located in areas where they may be visible to employees, guests and other visitors, being less visibly obtrusive is often desirable.

Craig J. Mathias, principal, Farpoint Group, a technology advisory group in Ashland, Mass., commented, "Consumer-class APs do offer connectivity, but multi-person offices need monitoring, management and control. For offices that haven't yet either deployed Wi-Fi or migrated from 802.11b or 802.11g to 802.11n, this offers enterprise features at SMB prices and IT operational expense -- it's a very cost-effective approach for a small or medium company that doesn't have a lot of IT staff to manage a wireless LAN environment."

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