Antennas Make All The Difference

Antennas Make All The Difference

By CWNP On 01/24/2008 - 7 Comments

I've recently had the good fortune to play with a WLAN system from Ruckus Wireless, a WLAN infrastructure company focused primarily on SMB and broadband operators.  Besides having a user interface to die for, it's also a snap to deploy...and when i say "snap", I'm literally talking a couple of minutes.  You plug it in, wait for it to boot up, and by the time you've located the default login parameters, the APs have discovered the controller and all is operational.  Upon initial login, you set up your initial WLAN profile with a wizard that seems to be made for 3 year olds.  Once completed, you find yourself at a loss for words...or actions.  There's nothing left to do unless of course you have a diverse array of user groups, each with different connectivity and security needs.  If you have one of those "nightmare" scenarios (like so many administrators do), prepare to spend at least another 3 minutes configuring the controller...yes, minutes.

Everything seems to be self-configuring.  AP connectivity, channels, power - you name it, it's all automagic.  Having said all of that, I saved the best for last.

I've seen some pretty effective antenna systems in my time.  In fact, I remember my first experience with Vivato.  Wow.  It was an omni-present AP. ;)   Since then, I've been playing with pretty much every system available on the market, and until now I haven't found anything that's out of the ordinary.  These have to be the weirdest looking APs of all time.  One model, the 2942, looks like silly putty that was wrapped half way around a pole, frozen, and got painted white.  The other looks like a white mystical orb with a handle.  But I'll give them this much, as weird as they look, they work even more so. 

These little things can give you a solid 54 Mbps connection at long range through lots of hideous obstacles.  Pine paneling, concrete, dry wall, tile-wall restrooms, closets full of clothes.  54 Mbps without a glitch.  I tried laptops with CardBus cards, MiniPCI cards, and even PDAs.  54 Mbps.  I started a file copy while next to an AP, and was getting 14 Mbps of throughput, steady as a rock.  I walked to the corners of every floor of the house and still...you guessed it...54 Mbps and 14 Mbps of throughput.  All of this with 2 APs located near the center of the house.  When I roamed between the APs, the ftp session didn't break...nor did the Windows file copy.  When comparing this to other vendors' 802.11g equipment, it typically took 3-5 strategically placed APs from most other vendors.  I attribute this to their antenna technology.  It's radical, it works, and IMHO everyone should do the same.  Let's hope that the Transmit Beamforming (TxBF) features coming with nextgen 802.11n chipsets will give us this kind of amazing connectivity.

Kudos Ruckus.  Where have you guys been for the last 3 years? :)


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