Ruckus Wireless has introduced an end-to-end 802.11n Wi-Fi system that promises to take much of the load off wireless carriers, which are increasingly challenged to keep up with the explosion in mobile data traffic demand.
Announced Monday, the Ruckus system includes outdoor mesh access points, a backhaul bridge, and indoor/outdoor customer premises equipment. In addition to offloading data from expensive cell networks, the new Ruckus system promises to enable carriers to access many new customers who previously couldn't be reached by fixed-line access.
"Carriers never had the confidence in Wi-Fi to use it strategically," said David Callish, Ruckus' vice VP of marketing, in an e-mail. "They've merely used it as a band aid in hotspots but haven't embraced it as a real tool."
Developed specifically for carriers, Ruckus equipment has already been selected by some carriers and networking infrastructure providers. In the United States, Towerstream is using Ruckus' ZoneFlex 7762-S Smart Sector AP as part of a research and development initiative aimed at coping with the rise in mobile data traffic. According to Ruckus, Towerstream's early tests have yielded some 250,000 connections a day moving more than two terabytes of data transferred.
India's Tikona Digital Networks has deployed more than 30,000 Ruckus ZoneFlex mesh nodes in several large Indian cities serving thousands of residential and business subscribers.
Ruckus has built on its existing technologies and products in developing its new carrier-friendly system. The company's proprietary technology in dynamic beamforming/beamsteering, interference rejection, and adaptive, self-organizing meshing is built into the new offering, which is tied together with its FlexMaster 9.0 Wi-Fi management system that has been designed to enable carriers to use a single control point to monitor, troubleshoot, and configure an entire Smart Wi-Fi network.
The ZoneFlex 7762-S is an outdoor access point capable of delivering 600 Mbps of throughput. The features deliver long-range signals, improved building signal penetration, and resilient mesh connections. For backhaul, the ZoneFlex 7731 automatically selects best channels based on actual throughput measurements and is aimed at GSM or data traffic connections. The MediaFlex 7200 integrates antenna arrays for indoor signal propagation of outdoor Wi-Fi networks. All pieces of the system are available immediately.
Noting that Wi-Fi will be a key part of the mobile Internet infrastructure even as carriers move to LTE from 3G, Selina Lo, president and CEO of Ruckus, said the company plans to continue harnessing reliable wireless capacity from unlicensed spectrum bands to augment expensive 3G and 4G spectrum. "Wi-Fi," she said, "is the simplest, most cost-effective tool for service providers to address the disparity between exponential demand for wireless capability and the linear supply of available wireless spectrum."
Callish said the Ruckus system seeks to overcome the traditional problem that carriers had in cobbling together disparate products from different suppliers.
"One of the big problems carriers have had," said Callish, "is that they've been unable to get all the products from a single vendor and therefore have been relegated to becoming system integrators."
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