Ruckus Brings Remote Management to Muni Wi-Fi and IPTV

By Eric Griffith

October 11, 2006

New money, new partners and a new technology for the "smart" Wi-Fi company will help providers distribute in-home Wi-Fi services.

Ruckus Wireless has always said it wants to help prevent truck rolls, whether for WISPs with municipal-sized Internet access networks or IPTV companies who want to spread the multimedia goodness around the house without wires (those are the two big Ruckus customer constituencies).

This week, the Sunnyvale, California-based company unwrapped its MediaFlex NT unit and its new InTune platform to extend that philosophy by letting carriers do remote management of the network in the customer's house.

"Historically, a service provider's requirement for management in the home has been limited to gateway products they'd provide," says Rob Mustarde, vice president of worldwide sales at Ruckus. "Once they get into the home, they don't have any interest beyond the gateway... that's changing as triple-play [data, video, voice] services and IPTV come out."

MediaFlex NG means new hardware (with the same "clip" shape) and software, not to mention the remote management platform. The units now support multiple SSIDs to act as multiple virtual APs in a home, keeping separate environments for different kinds of traffic. The new InTune technology handles the remote management for operators directly via protocols like SNMP, HTTP, SSL, SSH and Telnet. Operators use it to get data on the in-home MediaFlex and solve problems without sending out a service truck.

Ruckus first came to market as Video54, marketing a technology it sold as a MIMO equivalent used in standard home access points from companies like Netgear. With the focus on the home market now, they talk less about speed. "We make the worst case suck less," is how spokesperson David Callisch puts it. "We don't make it faster, just more predictable. Our tech makes Wi-Fi usable as a utility in the home."

On top of the latest technology talk, Ruckus announced a new infusion of cash ($16 million) from investors Motorola Ventures and T-Online Venture Fund, among others. This third round brings the company coffers up to $30 million since June 2004.

IPTV is slow to take off in the United States, and Ruckus is seeing a a lot of customer activity there (and still has around 40 rural carriers in the states using MediaFlex). This week, it announced two new partnerships, one with Telefonica O2 in the Czech Republic, another with Belgium's national telecom Belgacom for its Belgacom TV service. The former has 400,000 broadband subscribers that will soon be offered IPTV as an option; the latter has 73,000 IPTV customers already.

As for metro area Wi-Fi, that's an area where Ruckus is one of only two big players bringing mesh signals indoors (PePLink in China is the other). The company is seeing growth there as well. "That market is moving from Wi-Fi in the park to residences; it's maturing quickly," says Callisch. "Carriers didn't foresee having to bring the signal into the home and through walls. That's a big obstacle. It's a market we backed into, but it's nice."

MediaFlex NG will have two models, one for a router for $159, the other a simpler, single-port adapter for $99. Don't call Ruckus for one, though — they're sold to the end user by the carrier.

Originally published on .

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