Ruckus Rolls Out 3G Relieving Wi-Fi Products

Carriers are staggering under the weight of demands on their 3G networks, but leery of Wi-Fi as a possible supporting technology. A new product line from Ruckus aims to ease their concerns.

By Lisa Phifer | Posted Oct 18, 2010
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Far from killing Wi-Fi, 3G networks may be relying on it to fill in where coverage is poor and demand is high. Ruckus is banking on that as it releases a series of bridges and APs designed to give wireless carriers a helping hand. The challenge for Ruckus is convincing carriers that Wi-Fi, long thought to be a bit fragile by carrier standards, can serve them in lieu of licensed spectrum.


"All of the operators are getting creamed by over-the-top services," said Steven Glapa, Senior Director of Field Marketing at Ruckus. "Mobile device evolution and growing traffic problems are making it ever more clear to carriers that they need to use the right tool for the right job. LTE is well suited for highly-mobile users, but not small high-density wireless cells. Carriers are realizing that Wi-Fi can be a strategic weapon [to fill this need], not just a band aid."

The challenge here is that many carriers do not consider 802.11 products designed for residential or even enterprise deployment suitable for commercial wireless service delivery on a grand scale. To meet carrier requirements for high bandwidth, real-time service-level control, and cost-effective scalability in RF-hostile outdoor environments, Ruckus leveraged its experience in the wide-area Wi-Fi service market to expand its portfolio.

  • The ZoneFlex 7731 ($1,199) is a new outdoor point-to-multipoint 5 GHz 802.11n wireless high-speed backhaul bridge. Up to 5 bridges can be deployed with up to 30 degrees apart, with single-hop throughput ranging from 60 Mbps at 12 kilometers to 180 Mbps at 1 kilometer. This bridge is designed for carriers that deploy low density wireless broadband access or for small 3G cell backhaul.
  • The ZoneFlex 7762-S ($1,999) is a new outdoor mesh 802.11n AP with a 120 degree "Smart-Sector" antenna designed to deliver 10 dB signal gain over horizontal coverage areas. For example, a carrier might use the ZF7762-S to deliver first-mile access in venues where Wi-Fi needs to reach rooftop customer premises equipment (CPE) throughout a serving area.
  • The MediaFlex 7200 (from $99) is a new series of inexpensive 2.4 GHz 802.11n CPE designed to pair well with the ZF 7762-S. Available in three models (indoor/outdoor, internal/external antennas), the ZF7200 can be mounted on a pole or wall to be used as a remotely-managed, two-SSID residential bridge or router.
  • Carriers can manage all of these products from a central location using the FlexMaster 9.0 (from $5,000), which Ruckus claims is capable of handling tens of thousands of Smart Wi-Fi network elements and hundreds of thousands of Wi-Fi clients. Features of special interest to carriers include capacity planning, SLA visibility, efficient single-dashboard drill-down trouble-shooting, and compliance reporting.

These new products, available immediately, are designed to help carriers use Wi-Fi to tap service delivery opportunities, from triple-play residential services and 3G offload to first/last mile access in developing markets and managed enterprise WLANs. However, according to Glapa, carriers can't tolerate uncertainty and unlicensed spectrum makes them nervous. "They absolutely must have interference management to deliver reliable services in concrete canyons, and our adaptive antennas are ideal for this."

Read "Relieving Overburdened 3G, Ruckus Rolls Out Smart Wi-Fi" at Wi-Fi Planet

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