Ruckus Wireless announced a narrow-beam Wi-Fi access point (AP) for high-density applications that turns the concept behind most public Wi-Fi hotspots on its head: Instead of offering broad coverage to serve as many users as possible, the ZoneFlex 7782-N outdoor AP delivers narrow-beam coverage to limit customer access and deliver more consistent performance and multimedia support.
The AP leverages Ruckus' BeamFlex adaptive antenna technology to focus Wi-Fi signals within a 30-degree narrow beam. Because Wi-Fi is a shared medium, restricting the number of users through the use of narrow coverage can provide higher performance for those users on a particular AP.
"You need the narrow-beam antenna to very narrowly focus RF energy and that enables you to deploy large numbers of APs in close proximity without having them interfere with each other," Steve Hratko, Ruckus' director of service provider marketing, told FierceBroadbandWireless.
Narrow-beam deployments are well suited to stadiums, arenas, busy train stations and other locations with lots of wireless users in close proximity. Such deployments are especially useful for offloading customers from cellular networks to Wi-Fi. "It's typically high-density venues that cause the most problems for cellular networks," Hratko said.
The 7782-N, which is a dual-band 802.11n 2.4/5GHz AP, can power a separate small cell base station, which could be installed next to the AP.
Further, an integrated GPS receiver automatically populates each 7728-N with GPS coordinates. According to Ruckus, the availability of GPS-based location determination not only enables service providers to begin providing location-based Wi-Fi services, it also provides service providers with information regarding the number of users within a given location at different times of the day, which can be useful in creating value-added services.
The new AP was developed in response to a request from Towerstream, which provides wireless access and backhaul services in 11 major U.S. markets.
"The key to high density Wi-Fi is to focus and limit signals within a given area so contention to the medium can be controlled. Directional antennas limit co-channel interference which is a gating item in most high-density deployments," said Arthur Giftakis, vice president of engineering for Towerstream. He added the use of directional antennas has enabled the company to deliver data speeds of 50-60 Mbps to newer smartphones within New York City.
Ruckus, which recently filed for an initial public offering of common stock, is also expected to announce later this month that a major local exchange carrier will standardize on the vendor's products for managed enterprise services and public Wi-Fi hotspots. An industry source identified the operator as Cincinnati Bell, which has been expanding its Wi-Fi presence.
Last week, Devicescape announced that Cincinnati Bell is employing Devicescape's offload solution. Cincinnati Bell's wireless customers who use Android smartphones can now automatically access Devicescape's Curated Virtual Network of more than 11 million hotspots. Cincinnati Bell will include the Devicescape offload service pre-integrated with its new Android devices. The service will also be made available for more than a dozen existing Android phones through an application called CB WiFi, which can be downloaded initially from the Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Play Marketplace.
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