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Ruckus Rolls Out New 802.11n Access Points

The access points in the new ZoneFlex 7300 series claims to deliver cost-friendly performance for less than $1 Per Mbps of capacity.Ruckus Wireless positions the new ZoneFlex 7300 series as an enterprise-class access point. The use case offered to reviewers was the national Rock Bottom Restaurants, a national restaurant group with a host of familiar brands such as Old Chicago, the Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, Chop House & Brewery, Walnut Brewery, and Sing Sing piano bars. Though most SMBs won't have the scale that Rock Bottom has with 105 restaurant locations and approximately 5,000 employees, there may be some common ground on constrained IT resources.

Rob Jakoby, the vice president of IT for the Louisville, CO-based Rock Bottom Restaurants, said, "Given a limited IT staff to serve so many remote locations, we needed a Wi-Fi system that could deliver robust connectivity with a lot of horsepower, be ultra simple to deploy, remotely manageable and all at an affordable price point. We found these competing requirements were not addressed with conventional 802.11 technology."

Rock Bottom replaced a legacy 802.11g system with the Ruckus ZoneFlex 7300 series of 802.11n access points. The company is using the connectivity to enable a number of applications beyond the obvious secure guest access, including table top payment and media devices that offer multimedia content, streaming video, and online gaming. That level of functionality may be overkill for the majority of SMBs, but it does speak to the potential of deploying the new 802.11n wireless standard.

"Enterprises and service providers around the world are trying to deal with a tsunami of Wi-Fi-enabled mobile internet devices in the hands of a growing user population that expects fast and reliable connectivity everywhere, all the time," said Selina Lo, president and CEO of Ruckus Wireless. "802.11n is expected to be the answer, but high prices and inconsistent performance have hampered mass adoption. Ruckus Wireless is breaking down these barriers once and for all."

The target market for the Ruckus offering includes hotels and public venues, schools, retail outlet, remote hotspots, and branch offices. Of those, retail and branch offices are the most likely implementations for SMBs. Costs, of course, will dictate if this series makes sense for business owners. On that front, Ruckus is claiming the ZoneFlex 7363 delivers one megabit per second of capacity for $3.84 - besting competing products from Aruba and Cisco. - with a throughout of more than 200 Mbps at short ranges (10' to 20') and 120 Mbps at longer ranges (60' to 100') within a typical, walled office environment.

Ruckus attributes the performance to integration of BeamFlex, a patented software-controlled multi-antenna array that forms and directs Wi-Fi signals over the best performing signal paths in real time, on a per packet basis.

Pricing for the 7300 series models is $499 for the 300Mbps single-band ZoneFlex 7343 and $599 for the 600Mbps dual-band ZoneFlex 7363. More product details are available here.

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