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The crowd roars and Ruckus joins in with 802.11ax kit

Access points gets WPA3, OFDMA, Bluetooth LE, Zigbee and more

Ruckus Networks has focussed on high-density environments with its entry into the 802.11ax Wi-Fi market.

Let's go over the numbers first. On the Wi-Fi side, the Ruckus R730 is the company's first 802.11ax access point, it runs twelve MU-MIMO spatial streams, supports WPA3 and Wi-Fi Enhanced Open connections, OFDMA (orthogonal frequency-division multiple access), one 2.5/5 Gbps Ethernet port and one 10/100/1,000 Mbps Ethernet port, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Zigbee for Internet of Things devices, plus LTE.

Director of product marketing Dennis Huang told The Register the R730 is designed for high-density deployments, which challenge access points (APs) because when such devices serve a busy public area – a railway station or a stadium – the number of probe requests and responses becomes unsupportable even if only a minority of users connect.

The foot traffic of a station – Huang mentioned a deployment in a Japanese railway, where “you've got 20,000 people coming in and out” – can cause havoc to people already connected.

To cope with that, the R730 brings to market Ruckus' Ultra-High Density Technology Suite, with a particular focus on airtime decongestion the company says “limits management frame exchanges between APs and clients” in high density environments.

Transient client management applies a statistical algorithm to clients entering an AP's zone (in case they're just passing through), instead prioritising those already connected.

The suite also includes client load balancing, which Huang told The Register spreads the client load across all the access points in an environment, and each AP can handle 1024 client associations (up from 512 in previous products).

On the air interface, Huang said, the R730's implementation of OFDMA makes Wi-Fi much more deterministic, compared to contention-based best-effort implementations.

In OFDMA, the radio channel is broken into subcarriers (described as Resource Units in 802.11ax), and the AP assigns those to individual clients. The result is concurrent uplink and downlink communication with multiple clients, and 1024-symbol quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) packs a lot more symbols into the available radio channel.

Huang added that pre-negotiated wait times between the client and the access point offers power efficiencies, which goes back to improving life for users in public venues, where the battery life of smartphones is particularly important.

Huang said designing IoT capabilities into the R730 focussed the company's attention on power consumption, because connecting Things demanded more than merely adding Zigbee and Bluetooth Low Energy to the device: “battery powered products are common in the IoT”.

He noted that securing door-locks connecting over Zigbee is “problematic”, but it's the sort of capability demanded in the facilities ecosystem (and, El Reg would note, too little addressed, as Shodan has taught us).

Ruckus' full announcement is here. ®

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