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Xirrus Breaks Down Classroom Walls in Boulder

Enterprise WLAN vendor Xirrus has apparently won the hearts (and pocketbooks) of the Boulder Valley School District as they will be providing the infrastructure for all 55 schools. This is a significant deal for a WLAN vendor that has eked out only a small market share with its unique poly-radio access point (AP).

Xirrus replaces a Symbol-based thin-AP network used in about half the schools that experienced capacity issues and a complicated deployment process, according to company spokesperson Chad Frisby. Because a Xirrus AP can support 4, 8, or 16 highly-directional radios in one physical shell, existing APs didn't need to be replaced on a one-to-one basis, reducing AP counts by 20 to 40% but increasing radio counts by 30 to 50%. And for schools without an existing WLAN deployment, Xirrus' solution reduces the number Ethernet drops that need to be pulled in what can be a challenging physical plant.

Many Wi-Fi infrastructure products stumble when in dense client scenarios, such as in adjacent classrooms with a full attendance. Instead of one radio serving all the clients, a Xirrus APs will likely cover that same client population with several beams, load balancing as necessary and able.

Traditional AP vendors have promoted microcells, but they suffer from co-channel interference which effectively reduces performance. It will be interesting to see pre-802.11n Draft 2.0 products, which support MIMO, will be able to overcome the co-channel and performance issues.