A Metro RIOT Squad

By Eric Griffith

April 17, 2007

Ruckus Wireless is working with mesh vendors to ensure it can extend signals indoors.

Ruckus Wireless launched its RIOT program (short for Ruckus Interoperability and Open Testing) back in 2005 to improve interoperability of its products used for IPTV with that of equipment from other vendors. This week, it opened up the RIOT program to the metropolitan-scale Wi-Fi market in which it also plays.

Ruckus provides customer premises equipment (CPEs) used in conjunction with mesh network equipment to extend the signal from the outdoors (where the mesh is) to the indoors (where the people and computers are).

Members of the first RIOT Metro program include major mesh equipment providers BelAir Networks, Mesh Dynamics, Motorola, Proxim, SkyPilot Networks and Tropos Networks. The goal will be to let service providers rolling out citywide Wi-Fi know they can count on Ruckus MetroFlex CPEs to extend the signal.

Indoor access to mesh networks, or the lack thereof, is likely a contributing factor to many recent reports of metro-scale networks not finding the subscriber interest they had first expected.

The MetroFlex (which Ruckus calls a Wi-Fi modem, as it functionally handles Internet traffic like a DSL or cable modem) has been selected by Kitchener, Ontario-based Atria Networks as its official in-building CPE. Atria uses Cisco mesh equipment to extend its network of 2,500 kilometers of fiber optic lines in Canada. MetroFlex units are for sale or rent by Atria.

Ruckus has also passed Cisco’s Certified Technology Developer Program (CTDP) interoperability testing with the MetroFlex, though Cisco is not currently listed as a member of the Metro RIOT squad.

For competition in the Wi-Fi mesh CPE market, Ruckus faces off against PePWave (formerly PePLink) most of the time. That company today announced a major upgrade to its own CPE Central Management System. The software helps vendors manage the performance and status of CPEs in the field. It now integrates Google Maps as well, so providers can see at a glance where their PePWave Surf Wi-Fi modems are in a city.

In February, Ruckus introduced a Ruckus MediaFlex Hotspot for broadband operators to sell to venues that want to offer public access to their own customers. It's geared specifically for those venues in the middle of "dynamic and dense Wi-Fi environments" that need an extra push from the Ruckus antenna array. They claim a two- to four-fold increase in range, so the hotspot can cover a wide area. Ruckus says MediaFlex HS is ready to handle voice and video in addition to data, with 20 Mbps of throughput.



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