MobileAccess Keeps APs in the Closet

By Eric Griffith

June 18, 2007

Instead of distributing access points around a building, MobileAccess keeps them in the network center, and mirrors coverage with antennas suitable for any radio.

In-building wireless that supports more than one kind of wireless network, be it cellular or Wi-Fi, isn’t always easy for existing enterprises to deploy. But if you’ve got the wiring already in place for the APs, MobileAccess suggests you consider its products, as it will let you keep the control of the access points very close.

The company, known for unwiring the Senate and the House in Washington D.C., as well as the green Hearst Building in New York City, today announced the MA-860 for its Universal Wireless Network. The company claims the new hardware makes the system more WLAN-driven than cellular-driven. Instead of requiring that the access points be installed as an overlay network, the MA-860 works with any enterprise-class third-party APs installed in the network wiring closet or elsewhere, while the Wi-Fi signal is carried to users by the MobileAccess multi-band Multi-Service Antenna.

That same antenna is used to bring more than just Wi-Fi to users -- it also brings cellular signals and more. “A provider can bring their own equipment into a company data center to extend their network,” says Lou Martinage, director of marketing & business development at MobileAccess, which uses a mix of wired and optical infrastructure to extend the network throughout a building or campus. “A chassis-based service module converts that signal to radio frequency, and we filter and amplify the signals... the secret sauce is in the wiring closet.”

“You get the same coverage footprint the APs would have delivered,” says Martinage, claiming that through filtering and amplification, the signal from antenna to closeted AP does not degrade. “This is historically not the case with distributed antennas; usually, there’s some loss. You used to need more access points to cover the same turf. We say, go design with your Cisco design rules, do the VoIP survey, and figure where the APs go, but instead of putting in APs, put in our multi-service antenna, our coax, and then set the stage for other wireless services.”

After that, MobileAccess says new services can be added whenever needed, without having to re-wire the building.

Also new is the option to use single-mode or multi-mode fiber (MMF) for installation. MobileAccess previously only supported single-mode, but with the MMF support, they can share capacity. “It removes another barrier to deployment -- it keeps it simple,” says Martinage.

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