Ruckus keeps wireless simple for SMEs

The US wireless specialist has launched a range of wireless access points designed to meet the needs of small businesses

Ruckus Wireless has introduced a range of wireless access points, which it claims is designed specifically for the needs of small businesses.

The ZoneFlex range is based on carrier-class technology, but simplified to cater to the needs of businesses that have only one or two IT staff, according to Ruckus's marketing director, David Callisch. The range is a continuation of the company's existing portfolio, which has until now targeted wireless carriers for deployment in their consumer offerings.

"We have taken the functions most appropriate to SMBs and put them into the system, as opposed to forcefeeding them a pre-built solution," Callisch told ZDNet.co.uk on Monday. "The problem we're trying to solve is, for the SMB guy, he's got essentially two options. One is going with a high-end system like Cisco or Aruba, but those systems are very complicated and costly and need dedicated IT staff — the SMB doesn't have that. Their other option is going to PC World and buying a bunch of consumer access points [APs], which is inexpensive but riddled with problems. That's where the opportunity lies."

Ruckus has also added what it calls "smart Wi-Fi capabilities" to the ZoneFlex range. A smart antenna-array tries to find the best possible signal path to a client by focusing the radio-frequency energy and automatically changing that direction on demand and in real time. "What that gives you is extended range," said Callisch. He added that Ruckus's APs have two to three times the coverage of enterprise or consumer APs. This capability has been particularly useful in the company's consumer-oriented APs when delivering IPTV, he suggested.

The company also claims that automatic client security is included in the system. "The IT guy doesn't have the inclination to type in encryption keys all the time," explained Callisch. "We built a way to have the system automatically configure clients with a unique 64-byte encryption key. You only have to enter your username and password, then the system downloads an applet to your laptop and configures all the wireless settings. That key is unique to each user and gets tied to their device, so if the user is fired, that record gets expunged from the database."

One ZoneFlex AP, the 2925 desktop model, is immediately available at a list price of £131 through Ruckus's UK distributor, ACAL Networks. The 2942 model, an industrial enclosure AP, will follow in July priced at £177. Both of these are 802.11a/b/g APs. Ruckus will subsequently release three versions of its ZoneFlex controller, for six (£600), 12 (£1,000) or 25 APs (£1,750).

In the third quarter, the company will add 802.11n APs with meshing capabilities. Callisch indicated that these APs would be more affordable than those next-generation Wi-Fi devices available today, and claimed they would enjoy the same extended range as other Ruckus APs. He also confirmed that they would be software-upgradeable in line with potential changes to the 802.11n standard as it reaches its final ratification in 2009.