Meru Networks today (16 July 2013) announced the arrival of what it claims is the Wi-Fi market’s fastest 802.11ac access point - the Meru AP832.
802.11ac is the latest Wi-Fi standard, which is capable of delivering up to three times the speed (1Gbps plus) of the current 802.11n standard. Unlike all previous Wi-Fi standards, it operates in the 5GHz unlicensed band, rather than the 2.4GHz unlicensed band.
Meru attributes the superior 802.11ac speed of its new access point to the Virtual Cell, a single-channel option provided by the MobileFLEX architecture and its support for the use of 80MHz channels as outlined in the IEEE 802.11ac draft specification.
The company said that its competitors’ wireless architectures largely restrict support for 40 channels due to limited channel availability, reducing data rates to approximately half of the 1.3 Gbps-per-radio that the specification allows.
The Meru 802.11ac solution stands alone in its ability to enable the use of three spatial streams over two 802.11ac radios on standard 802.3af power. This eliminates the need for customers to upgrade their entire Ethernet switching infrastructure, as currently required by many Meru competitors when deploying their 802.11ac solutions.
802.11ac adoption will be driven by the quickly-growing number of mobile devices, the BYOD trend and high-bandwidth applications such as HD video, video conferencing and cloud-based services and storage. Consumer devices such as smart phones and tablets supporting 802.11ac are available now.
802.11ac AP832 access point – key features
Building on the Meru MobileFLEX architecture, the AP832 features two dual-band 802.11ac-supporting radios capable of simultaneously transmitting on the 5GHz band. This allows users to overlay 802.11ac APs on 802.11n networks to solve capacity problems in high density environments.
The AP832 also enables the use of three spatial streams with only standard 802.3af power over Ethernet (PoE), helping customers avoid forklift upgrades to their switching infrastructures as required by many competitors.
The new AP enables customers to address the challenges created by high-density client environments and increased client diversity by leveraging the full potential of 802.11ac, Meru said. It is also backwards-compatible to support 802.11n clients in both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
Meru AP832 access points are designed to fit into existing Meru AP332 (802.11n) mounting brackets, enabling quick and easy plug-and-play upgrades.
Meru said today that it has gone to great lengths to ensure a seamless upgrade path from 802.11n to 802.11ac. Meru controllers can be upgraded to support 802.11ac using Meru System Director 6.0 software. However, to take advantage of 802.11ac, customers do need to buy 802.11ac AP832 access points.
Manish Rai, vice president of marketing at Meru, said: ‘Meru’s single-channel option, part of the MobileFLEX architecture, gives the company measurable advantages over the other vendors in the market, all of whom require multiple channels to avoid co-channel interference and are therefore limited in their ability to achieve full 1.3Gbps 802.11ac data rates. The flexibility and scalability of the Meru architecture ensures that our customers get the full benefit of the 802.11ac specification.’
The Meru AP 832 will ship in Q3 2013 with a list price of $1,295 (£858 at today’s exchange rates).