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Ruckus intros affordable enterprise access points

Ruckus announces the ZoneFlex 7300 series of enterprise access points that have the starting price lower than $500.

The new ZoneFlex 7363 enterprise Wireless-N access point from Ruckus. Dong Ngo/CNET

For the majority of homes and apartments, a home router such as the D-Link DIR-855 or Linksys WRT320N would make a viable wireless network. However, if you want to share the Internet with a few neighbors or cover a warehouse with a wireless signal, you'd need an enterprise-class access point. The problem is this type of access point is generally expensive.

Ruckus Wireless wants to change this fact and announced Monday its new line of enterprise-class access points, the ZoneFlex 7300 series, which includes two products, the ZoneFlex 7343 and ZoneFlex 7363. The former is a single-band (2.4GHz) Wireless-N access point that offers speeds up to 300Mbps and costs $499. According to Ruckus, this is the only sub-$500 enterprise Wireless-N access point on the market.

The ZoneFlex 7363, on the other hand, has support for the dual-band standard (2.4GHz and 5GHz) and offers the maximum bandwidth of up to 600Mbps. For this reason it costs $100 more than the ZoneFlex 7343.

According to Ruckus, the ZoneFlex 7300 series models are the first access points in their class to integrate Ruckus patented smart antenna array and dynamic beam-forming technology, called BeamFlex, designed to deliver high throughput speeds at long range.

The company says the new access points have been measured to offer a throughput of more than 200Mbps at short ranges (10 to 20 feet) and over 120Mbps at longer ranges (60 to 100 feet) within a typical, walled office environment. The performance gets even better when used outdoors.

With this, plus the low prices, Ruckus claims its new access points offer the lowest price-over-performance ratio when compared with similar products from other vendors, such as Cisco.

The new ZoneFlex 7300 series comes with two Ethernet ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and can be custom-ordered with an add-on USB port for applications such as machine-to-machine communications or WAN link backup using a 3G/4G/EVDO dongle.

The new access points are also lightweight (less than a pound) and compact, measuring just 7 inches by 7 inches by 1 inch. The full shared feature list includes:

  • Integrated smart antenna array with more than 300 antenna patterns that enable 4dBi of antenna gain for extended coverage
  • Automatic interference avoidance of -10dB
  • Support for dynamic beamforming to minimize lowering of data rates and packet loss, ensuring consistent performance
  • Patented IP multicast-to-unicast conversion for high-quality real-time video streaming
  • Smart mesh networking for cableless deployment, lowering deployment costs
  • Advanced Smart/OS features (when used with the Ruckus ZoneDirector controller) such as dynamic preshared keys and guest networking
  • Support for eight BSSIDs per radio
  • Single and dual radio 2x2 11n designs with up to 300Mbps per radio
  • Standard 802.3af power
  • Wall, ceiling, or desktop mounting

Both the ZoneFlex 7340 and 7363 are available now.