Carrier WiFi

Chongqing Telecom Creates a Wi-Fi Ruckus

Ruckus Wireless Inc. announced Monday that Chongqing Telecom, a unit of China Telecom Corp. Ltd. (NYSE: CHA), will deploy 4,100 Ruckus ZoneFlex Smart Wi-Fi indoor and outdoor access points and ZoneDirector WLAN controllers to cover seven districts in the largest province in China, with plans to blanket the entire province in 802.11n in the coming 12 to 18 months.

The Wi-Fi hotspot initiative has been in the works for the past year, according to Ruckus VP of Marketing David Callisch, because it's taken that long to deploy a project that large. The operator has set up hot zones in eight universities, 13 hotels, three hospitals and two business centers, in addition to other public venues. Callisch says that Chongqing selected Ruckus because of its beamforming technology that mitigates interference and requires fewer nodes than other Wi-Fi solutions.

Chongqing Telecom is taking a unique approach billing for the service too, offering Wi-Fi access as part of tiered bundles of wireless service on its CDMA 3G network, which is branded as Tianyi Broadband.

Why this matters
Wireless operators used to resist Wi-Fi, but now more are embracing the technology and offering it themselves, as Chongqing is doing. As mobile data usage has exploded, they've had little choice.

Ruckus's products are designed to be used by telecom service providers for robust applications such as video. This focus has helped it gain customers on the cable side, but wireless operators still represent a relatively new market for the vendor. (See Ruckus Takes a Run at Cisco & BelAir and Ruckus Offers WiFi Smarts to Cable .)

"All the carriers are changing their tune with respect to Wi-Fi in that it used to be just a way to combine strategic access, greater capacity and greater coverage to augment areas their cellular networks don’t cover, or provide better coverage in dense areas," Callisch says. "But what hasn’t happened is the integration of the technology in their core networks. You'll see that now."

For more
Ruckus Wireless, a relatively small player in the Wi-Fi space, has been racking up partners as cable and wireless operators acknowledge the importance of Wi-Fi offload. Check out the following stories for more on the company:

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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