Ruckus Raises 802.11n Stakes
WiFi equipment vendor Ruckus Wireless Inc. (NYSE: RKUS) spent its week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) unveiling new gear intended to speed adoption of 802.11n in managed services. (See Advantage: Bad Guys and More Bumps in the Road to 802.11n.)
In private demos for carriers, Ruckus was showing off an 802.11n access point tailored for delivering IPTV feeds around the home, an area where the vendor has already had some significant success. (See DT Picks Ruckus Wireless, PT Picks Ruckus Wireless, and SingTel Picks Ruckus.)
The "tailored" part means the product's design focused on the needs of TV, a factor that let Ruckus push down the cost compared with enterprise gear.
Ruckus director of marketing David Callisch wouldn't elaborate much on that tailoring, but the implication is that the new box is missing a couple of tricks that enterprise-class gear could handle.
But that's OK, because price is paramount here. Ruckus contends that carriers are ready to move to 802.11n for managed services. What's holding them back, according to Callisch, is that the equipment is too expensive, leading to service prices that consumers wouldn't accept.
"Carriers can't work with the price points that are being bandied about in the enterprise-class market," he says.
At CES, Ruckus was showing a demo featuring an 802.11n access point simultaneously working three streams of MPEG-2 video, a voice call, and Internet access.
Separately, Ruckus was showing FlexMaster, a new management system that supposedly gives carriers more power when it comes to controlling groups of hotspots. Details aren't being made public yet, but Callisch says the standards-based platform will let carriers do things such as set policies for groups of users.
"It enables some sophisticated things carriers have wanted to do with WiFi that they haven't been able to do," Callisch claims.
The idea is to open the door for tiered services, a concept that could help carriers sell 802.11n services not just to households, but to businesses.
"Carriers want to see WiFi being used in a business-class orientation so they can start to make money off it," says the Ruckus man, adding that a new hotspot access point was being shown to carriers at CES.
All the new products are set to be available next week. Formal announcements should be coming in the next 30 days, Callisch says.
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading