Xirrus Introduces Wi-Fi With Greater Range, Capacity, To Meet WLAN Demands

Xirrus is rolling out technology to increase the range and capacity of WLANs and make them more programmable so they can expand as necessary. Xirrus’s XR Wireless Array product line includes a wireless modular switch that can replace the number of legacy radio access points by a ratio of as much as 8-to-1.

October 5, 2011

3 Min Read
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Xirrus is rolling out technology to increase the range and capacity of WLANs and make them more programmable so they can expand as necessary. Xirrus’s XR Wireless Array product line includes a wireless modular switch that can replace the number of legacy radio access points by a ratio of as much as 8-to-1.

The XR Wireless Array line includes five models that feature four, eight, 12 or even 16 access points (APs) in one unit. The APs operate at either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz, as do existing APs, but they can be programmed to change from one to the other on demand, says Steve Wastie, chief marketing officer for Xirrus. The number of APs active within a unit can also be throttled up or down as network demand changes, by either turning some APs off or adjusting the amount of power they use. The Xirrus solution also features directional antennas--versus the omni-directional antennas in legacy APs--to strengthen the signal in areas where it’s needed.

In addition, one or more of the antennas can be configured to act as a "threat sensor looking for attacks and so forth," says Wastie.

As mobile devices proliferate, end users come to expect wireless access to be available at work, at their hotels and at convention centers hosting a conference, he says. "[Wireless] is no longer kind of the exception, right? It’s kind of the new norm. They’ll expect to be able to connect wirelessly from whatever devices they’re using, and that’s a big shift."

To illustrate how much more area an XR array can cover, Wastie says that when Xirrus set up its Wi-Fi network for a technology conference at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas recently, it deployed just 20 to 24 of its arrays, versus the 160 to 180 APs it would have had to deploy using earlier Wi-Fi technology.

A number of industry statistics identify the drivers of demand for improved wireless networks. By 2015 there will be 15 billion devices seeking wireless access, including smartphones, tablets and other machines, according to Cisco Systems, which also forecast that mobile data traffic volumes will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 92% between 2010 and 2015. The research firm Dell’Oro Group puts the size of the WLAN equipment market at $8 billion. And 60% to 80% of enterprise employees will rely on wireless connectivity to access business-critical software applications.

Xirrus’s approach to improving WLANs sets it apart from other players in the industry, says Rohit Mehra, director of the Enterprise Communications Infrastructure Group at IDC.

"Xirrus's multiradio Wi-Fi arrays are high-capacity wireless access systems that can be deployed for high-traffic, dense enterprise deployments," Mehra wrote in an email interview. "Their integrated multiradio solution with directional high-gain antenna is well-differentiated from other solutions in the industry."

Wi-Fi capacity needs to expand to accommodate the growing number of mobile devices seeking access, he added, and to offload traffic from cellular networks, which can also reach capacity quickly.

Xirrus arrays are currently configured to operate on 802.11n wireless networks, but the Xirrus platform is "future protected," says John Merrill, director of corporate marketing at Xirrus, to be compatible with forthcoming standards called 802.11ac and 802.11ad.

See more on this topic by subscribing to Network Computing Pro Reports Fundamentals: Wireless Mesh Networks (subscription required).

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