California-based Ruckus Wireless has introduced a complete, end-to-end managed, wireless broadband access system which provides a ‘build-as-you-grow’ model at a fraction of the cost of alternative approaches.
The company today launched a key component in its system – the ZoneFlex 7731 – a centrally managed, outdoor point bridge based on 802.11n standard, which supports data rates up to 300Mbps and a backhaul throughput of over 100Mbps.
Ruckus believes its end-to-end system provides new business opportunities as it bridges remote areas and provides broadband to previously unreachable locations. Previously, operators had to integrate many disparate and expensive products to provide broadband access, backhaul facilities, customer premise equipment (CPE) and system management equipment.
The Ruckus Wireless system is largely aimed at emerging markets, but in the UK it could deliver a cost effective solution to providing broadband coverage in rural areas, or for organisations seeking to ensure more reliable coverage in their premises.
Niv Hanigal, director of product management, said: ‘3G and 4G WiMAX are very viable solutions, but they need billions of dollars and five to ten years to make money back. The Ruckus model lets service providers enter the market with a much lower capex involving millions, rather than billions, and you don’t have to pay for spectrum.'
He continued: ‘It allows for incremental growth without the huge costs the provision of blanket network coverage would incur. The lower cost and faster speed of installation means providers can make a return on their investment more quickly.’
The Ruckus Wireless model is aimed at established and new broadband operators in emerging markets, next generation service providers, large-scale system integrators and rural operators in mature markets with established broadband networks.
Hanigal said: ‘This market is about coverage, so it’s good for rural areas. In the UK, where there is good coverage outside of rural areas, the problem is capacity. Three years ago, the networks were reluctant to look at Wi-Fi, but the iPhone has changed all that. Now they need more capacity with a reliable broadband service.’
Hanigal believes that even when LTE comes on line in the UK it may not have enough capacity to keep up with the demand for data which is doubling every year. He thinks operators in the UK are reluctant to invest in LTE right now as the 3G licences were so expensive. ‘The networks would rather sweat their assets and find ways to offload data. Wi-Fi provides a solution. But I would expect smaller organisations in the UK will take our solution up, rather than large integrators.’
In the UK, Ruckus has already tapped in to the enterprise market with healthcare and education providers. James Calderbank, director of enterprise sales, said: ‘We are using dealers and resellers in the UK, but they need to understand wireless. We train them up and accredit them. Over this summer we’ve had a lot of interest from schools, both secondary and primary, seeking to get more reliable broadband.’
The Ruckus system uses dynamic beamforming access points, which select the best performing path, thereby avoiding interference in real time. The wireless backhaul and customer premises equipment (CPE) systems provide reliable, far-reaching Wi-Fi coverage with superior penetration in buildings, according to Ruckus. Its Smart Mesh software is designed to scale capacity on demand, while its unified remote management provides end-to-end visibility and control.
Hanigal pointed out that WiMAX typically uses large cells and in urban areas that means getting planning permission and incurring site acquisition costs, as well as installation costs. The Ruckus system does mean more access points (APs) need to be installed but they are much smaller and their higher capacity means they compensate for each other, so finding suitable sites is not such an issue. Labour is also less of an issue as its APs are much easier to install.
Ruckus Wireless is based in Silicon Valley, California. It was set up five years ago by an antenna specialist and a software expert with the aim of making Wi-Fi more reliable. Its initial target was Wi-Fi TV on the grounds that if that could be made reliable then everything else would be easy.