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Ruckus Intros $500 802.11n APs

With the ZoneFlex 7300 midrange access points, Ruckus is trying to differentiate its enterprise 802.11n product on both price and performance.

With 802.11n solutions rapidly moving into the enterprise, Ruckus Wireless is seeking to break the price barrier with a new family of its ZoneFlex 7300 midrange access points starting at $500.

As the popularity of 11n threatens to turn the LANs into a commodity, Ruckus is pushing price as well as its proprietary antenna array and beamforming technologies to differentiate itself.

"Up to now, 802.11n has been a prison of promises," said Ruckus VP of marketing David Callisch in an e-mail Monday. "The high price of 802.11n has been a major obstacle to mass deployment, but not the only one. Consistent performance at range and reliability are the other two.

"With 802.11n you basically have more radios and antennas jammed into a single access point. The theoretical prospects of higher performance are great on vendor data sheets but are never realized by users. They now understand this and are being very cautious."

Ruckus' new Zone Flex 7300 series includes the single-band 7343 and dual-band 7363 products, priced at $499 and $599 respectively. Maximum 11n single band is 300 Mbps while dual band is 600 Mbps. The new family is targeted at midrange hotspots like hotels, schools, retail outlets, midsized hospitals, and branch offices. For instance, Rock Bottom Restaurants, a casual dining chain with 105 locations, has standardized on the ZoneFlex 7300 series.

Ruckus said the ZoneFlex 7363 delivers throughput of more than 200 Mbps in 10- to 20-foot short ranges and over 120 Mbps at 60- to 100-foot ranges in typical walled office environments. The company noted that ZoneFlex access points integrate Ruckus' multi-antenna array BeamFlex, which directs Wi-Fi signals over best-performing signal paths in real time, on a per-packet basis. ZoneFlex APs automatically find better signal paths to increase performance and minimize packet loss.

"With 802.11n there's much more to lose and much more needed in the way of control over the physical layer because you have concurrent signals and streams flying around everywhere," said Callisch. "If you can't control the integrity of these Wi-Fi transmissions, you'll never be able to get those promised high speeds. Enterprises, big and small, desperately want the bandwidth but not three or four times the price."

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