Xirrus introduces new Wi-Fi solution for large public venues

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Wi-Fi solutions provider Xirrus just unveiled the XA4, a four-radio 802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi solution that incorporates external antennas to optimize coverage and performance in large venues and open-space environments.

The product “allows you to direct four radios' worth of Wi-Fi bandwidth and then use external antennas to create specific coverage sectors,” Bruce Miller, VP of product marketing at Xirrus, told FierceWirelessTech. He described it as basically lighting up zones, sort of like sprinklers for a lawn or circles of coverage, that are engineered to produce the best coverage, which is what’s needed in these high-density venues.

Wave 2 is the latest and greatest Wi-Fi and in theory can handle up to 3.47 Gbps instantaneous data rates, and “we were the first solution to announce a product that supports those kind of rates,” Miller said, adding that it's ideal for locations such as convention centers, arenas, transportation hubs and warehouses.

The XA4 supports the full specification of 802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi at up to 3.47 Gbps data rates per radio and a total of 16 multiuser MIMO (MU-MIMO) streams per AP. Its software-defined nature means venues can grow and adapt over time as Wi-Fi clients change and move to the higher-speed flavor of Wi-Fi. All four radios on the XA4 can operate at full 802.11ac Wave 2 speeds, four times what traditional APs offer.

The list price on the XA4 is $2,195, and “you could easily argue this would cost half as much as an equivalent solution from a competitor,” depending on the scenario they’re running, he said. “It’s kind of like four APs in one and a controller, if you look at it that way, when you talk about high density.”

Xirrus boasts that its high-density access points reduce the amount of equipment deployed by up to 75 percent and decrease total cost of ownership by up to 50 percent versus competitive solutions.

Miller points to a previous deployment where Xirrus outfitted a big convention space in Las Vegas with 200 APs. A competitor had quoted the customer as requiring 1,500 APs, so Xirrus ended up saving the venue a huge amount in access points and cables, installation and maintenance time.

Last month, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced it is now certifying products based on the 802.11ad standard, known as Wi-Fi Certified WiGig. Operating at 60 GHz, WiGig is one of the first millimeter-wave technologies to be available, and products are now shipping.

RELATED: Wi-Fi Alliance kicks off certification for WiGig

Xirrus hasn’t made any announcements about its plans for WiGig, which is more geared to consumers and entertainment applications, according to Miller. “As of today, I don’t see a lot of our customers demanding it,” he said. “We’re watching that,” but WiGig is more likely to come out sooner in the consumer space rather than the enterprise in part because it’s better geared for in-room or outdoor line-of-sight scenarios. One of the benefits WiGig enthusiasts tout is the ability to download an HD movie in just a few seconds.