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Ruckus Intros Wi-Fi Access Point For Cable Operators

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With cable operators beginning to launch Wi-Fi networks in their service areas, Ruckus Wireless has developed a powerful 802.11n access point that it believes can compete with WiMax, licensed spectrum, and 3G, while delivering a dramatically lower cost per bit.

Municipal Wi-Fi networks have generally failed -- with a few exceptions -- but cable companies have stepped up to fill the void. Ruckus this week introduced its ZoneFlex 7761-CM Smart Wi-Fi access point, which has been designed specifically to help cable operators rapidly deploy and monetize broadband wireless as a companion service to their traditional cable services.

"Using the existing cable strand infrastructure to deliver reliable Wi-Fi access makes perfect sense and is a major focus for almost every cable operator in the United States," said Selina Lo, president and CEO of Ruckus Wireless, in a statement. "What's changed over the last two years is the arrival of 802.11n, the debut of DOCSIS 3.0, and the introduction of smart antenna array technology."

For instance, Cablevision Systems introduced its Wi-Fi network in its Long Island service area nearly two years after most of the municipal Wi-Fi networks had failed. It was immediately billed as "the nation's largest Wi-Fi network." Other cable operators have followed suit and, with the growth of 802.11n next generation Wi-Fi, the phenomenon is expected to develop even more rapidly.

The Ruckus ZoneFlex 7761-CM offering, with its interference rejection capability, extends WLAN services and 3G data offloading. It also offers an inexpensive alternative to WiMax. Ruckus noted that cable operators can use existing cable modem facilities to backhaul traffic, which in the past has damaged the broadband mobile business case.

The Ruckus system is in trials with cable operators, the company said, adding that the device combines a standard DOCSIS 3.0 modem with dual-band 802.11n and Ruckus' smart antenna dynamic beamforming.

Cable operators generally offer Wi-Fi to their existing customers, but the wireless feature can also be an enticement to consumers to sign up for their cable services, too.

After Cablevision introduced its free Wi-Fi service, its competitors in Metropolitan New York -- Comcast and Time Warner Cable -- also introduced their own Wi-Fi services.