New Ruckus Wireless Access Points Aimed at Public Wi-Fi Hotspots

– Ruggedized Design for Use at Outdoor Facilities
– Speeds up to 1,200 Mbps
– Small, Light & Can Be Mounted Anywhere

Significance: Wi-Fi is everywhere, or will be soon as operators deploy publicly accessible Wi-Fi access points everywhere. Wi-Fi has lately been spreading quickly outside the home where it was originally intended only to connect a few devices to the home’s Wi-Fi router. Now more robust versions are being spread to public places such as stadiums, coffee shops, bars and restaurants (even for outdoor seating), rail- and subway station platforms, dense metro/urban hot zones, college campuses (in buildings and outdoors), business parks and town squares.

Broadband service providers are building networks of Wi-Fi hotspots that are publicly accessible, in many cases for free.
Comcast as part of the US cablecos’ CableWiFi Alliance and many cablecos in Europe are building near-nationwide archipelagos of home- and business-based public Wi-Fi hotspots — very much Fon-like.
BT, AT&T and other telcos and cellcos are doing the same although mostly or entirely only in public places such as coffee shops and stadiums. 
– Chipmakers such as Qualcomm Atheros, Broadcom and Quantenna are producing or will produce Wi-Fi chips that are intended for use in a) home Wi-Fi routers that also function as secure public Wi-Fi access points and b) commercial routers that’ll be used in stadiums, coffee shops and such plus in the corporates. These are “dense” usage areas where many people are trying to access the Net at once.

It’s clear that there will soon be networks of Wi-Fi hotspots that are so widespread, and mostly free, that many consumers will not need access to a cellular network at all or only some of the time.

Many of the deployments are out-of-doors, areas where consumer and business Wi-Fi routers were never intended to be installed and to operate.

Ruckus Wireless to the Rescue
Ruckus Wireless, which has specialized in such routers, this week, announced two new models in a line of Ruckus ZoneFlexT T300 Series outdoor 802.11ac access points (APs): – ZoneFlex T300 omnidirectional
– ZoneFlex T301n narrow band

Both models support up to 500 concurrent users each. They are capable of speeds of up to 1,200 Mbps: 
– up to 300 Mbps at 2.4 GHz (802.11b/g/n)
– up to 900 Mbps at 5 GHz (802.11ac)

They are lightweight and easy to install in a variety of indoor and outdoor environments even where temperatures hit -4 up to 131 degrees Fahrenheit (from -20 up to 55 degrees Celsius) and withstand hurricane-speed winds up to 165 mph.

Ruckus said these concurrent, dual-band APs are the industry’s smallest and lightest form factors. Both can be mounted on walls, poles or ceilings with no loss in performance.

Unlike the routers (access point) that are intended for use in residences, the new Ruckus models are “designed specifically for high density user environments such as stadiums, railway station platforms, dense metro/urban hot zones, and other outdoor venues such as outdoor college campuses, business parks, and town squares.” Both are ruggedized for use outdoors and are intended to withstand harsh environments. They have water and dust proof plastic enclosures.

Ruckus has been making these kinds of access points for years and has developed some technologies specifically for the environments where these access points will be installed:
– Ruckus’ BeamFlex+T technology for optimal performance and interference mitigation in challenging public environments
– ChannelFlyT for predictive channel selection based on real-time capacity analysis of all RF channels

Their light weight and tiny form factors are also important in the places where they’ll be used. The ZoneFlex T300 and ZoneFlex T301n 2- and 2.1-pounds (0.9 kg and 1 kg) respectively, which includes their built-in BeamFlex antennae.

Size is a critical requirement for many outdoor Wi-Fi installations because aesthetic considerations or minimal visual impact is required. Their light-weight “dramatically eases installation and reduces deployment time and labor costs.”

Total dimensions, including their internal antennae, are, respectively, 7-inches wide x 5.9-inches deep x 3.4-inches high (18cm x 15cm x 8.6cm) and 7.6-inches wide x 9.4-inches deep x 4.3-inches high (19.5cm x 23.9cm x 11cm). Ruckus said “these are among the smallest outdoor 802.11ac APs in the market

Ruckus Wireless VP of product management Greg Beach said, “Our ZoneFlex T300 Series combines carrier-class, high-capacity, high-density outdoor Smart Wi-Fi radio technologies with incredibly light-weight and compact form factors. Both are easy to install, and are ideal for service providers and venue owners looking to quickly deploy reliable outdoor Wi-Fi networks in environments such as stadiums, train stations, and parks. They’re 50 percent lighter, significantly smaller in overall size, and offer a much lower total cost of ownership, compared with other products on the market that aren’t nearly as feature-rich.”

Two Models
The ZoneFlex T300 AP is a 2×2:2 stream 802.11ac access point with an omnidirectional aggregate antenna coverage pattern. It can operate as a standalone AP, or be centrally managed. Ruckus said it’s “ideal for providing coverage over a wide outdoor area.”

The Ruckus ZoneFlex T301n outdoor 2×2:2 stream 802.11ac access point additionally has internal narrow beam antennae in order to provide narrow sector coverage for very high performance, directed coverage applications. It said the ZoneFlex T301n is ideal for very high density venues like stadiums, where RF energy must be very narrowly focused to maximize capacity. High density Wi-Fi network design typically calls for a large number of APs to get the needed capacity, but care must be taken to limit co-channel interference. It provides directed coverage that adapts in real time to reduce interference and increases network performance.

The ZoneFlex T300 Series access points meet the stringent test requirements overseen by CENELEC, through its close collaboration with the International Electrotechnical Commission, for use by US railway systems in their commuter train and subway stations and platforms.

Ruckus offers cloud-based services for the better deployment of public Wi-Fi hotspots and to help operators streamline the creation of highly scalable and resilient cloud-based wireless LAN services…

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