Ruckus Brings Price Competition to 802.11n, Targeting Cisco, Aruba

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

Wireless LANs got a new standard in October 2009 when 802.11n passed in the IETF, adding multiple input/multiple output (MIMO), a technology that can improve signals and throughput. Ruckus Wireless tells Channel Insider that its expanded line of access points for 802.11n provides better performance at a better price than competitors Cisco and Aruba.

Ruckus Wireless executives told Channel Insider that 802.11n sales made up only 25 percent of overall WiFi access point sales in 2009, and that may be due to two factors. First, some customers may have been waiting for the final ratification of the IETF 802.11n standard, which only happened in October 2009.

But others may have been stopped in their tracks by the price of the new technology in the midst of a recession. Looking to alleviate some of that objection, Ruckus Wireless has expanded its ZoneFlex 7300 product line with a series of midrange enterprise-class access points built on the 802.11n standard and priced for midsized enterprises. Ruckus says the products are priced at $1 per megabit.

"What is common across all customers is the need for more bandwidth in support of multimedia apps," Niv Hanigal, director of product management at Ruckus, told Channel Insider. "There’s a tsunami of WiFi-enabled devices, and at the same time budgets are tighter than ever."

Ruckus says it is offering the industry's first sub-$500 enterprise-class 802.11n access point, which includes both single-band (7343) and dual-band (7363) products, priced at $499 and $599, respectively.

The devices offer a maximum 802.11n capacity of 300M bps (single band) or 600M bps (dual band) and can deliver 210M bps at short ranges of 10 to 20 feet and over 120M bps at longer ranges of 60 to 100 feet within a typical, walled office environment, according to Ruckus.

Expect to see more price competition in the 802.11n access point arena in 2010, according to networking analyst firm ABI Research.

"Vendors are trying to gain market share by providing products which offer more reliable coverage and consistent performance as well as lower prices," said Khin Sandi Lynn, a research associate at ABI Research, in a statement. "For example, Aruba has launched an 802.11n access point priced the same as their 802.11g model. Price competition will attract more organizations that have not yet moved to 802.11n."

Buyers of such access points from Ruckus Wireless have been concentrated in the hospitality vertical, including many hotels, according to John Sampson, director of global channel programs at Ruckus.

Sampson said Ruckus has been briefing channel partners one-on-one about the new products and has been working to get access products out into the field.

ABI Research reported last month that sales of 802.11n WLAN access points grew by nearly 44 percent in 2009 over the previous year with particularly strong demand for enterprise-class 802.11n access points.

ABI Research further said that over 400,000 enterprise access points were shipped in the first three quarters of 2009, and that shipments were expected to have reached half a million by the end of 2009.

Cisco stands as the top vendor in the 802.11n enterprise access point market with a market share of 63 percent and Aruba owns the second largest share with 25 percent, according to ABI Research.

The firm is forecasting total 802.11n access point shipments of 6.3 million in 2012.
Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com