Monday, September 17, 2012
Ruckus was a presenter at Wireless Field Day 3. In Steve Martin's presentation he explained how Ruckus puts their effort into redesigning the entire RF integrated circuitry of reference designed wireless silicon chips/antennas to get the lowest noise floor and have the best receive sensitivity of any access points in the wireless business.
He says that through this redesign process, Ruckus access points/antennas will have a 3 to 6 dB better difference than their competitors. Most of this antenna redesign is done by their 25 person design team in house, most of whom reside in the US.
They take and adapt reference design, create their own versions, get the new designs fabricated then they go through extensive testing. Typically new antenna designs go through this re-design/testing process at least three times (six month + process).
Ruckus has more low level source code control access to the Atheros chip set, and as a result Ruckus has a preference in modifying Atheros reference wireless chipsets.
Manufacturing for the Ruckus product line is done in Malaysia and China, and stringent quality control is ensured by building their own manufacturing test setups. The final product testing before its shipped to the end user is done as a separate step to ensure repeatable quality of their products. Periodically they sample 10 or 20 of a given model out of finished goods, bring them back to engineering & re-run them through the engineering verification testing.
Niv Hanigal presented after Steve Martin, and he explained that Ruckus also has a large presence with Carrier/Service Providers to offload cellular connectivity to Wi-Fi. Today's fixed line carrier cable operators don't have licensed spectrum, they only have Wi-Fi as an offload option. The carriers have been losing subscribers, experiencing more customer churn, and they needed to invest in an option to enable more features for their customers. This is how Ruckus came to provide the ability to do 802.11u offloading from a carrier to local Wi-Fi. There are two phones already certified for 802.11u but the make and model are currently unknown. The only thing we know is that it is not an iPhone. Reasons for difficulty in getting 802.11u client devices to test with are mostly around the adoption cycle of replacing devices. The lifecycle of a typical cellphone is just over two years. As part of the testbed for 802.11u, Passpoint 2.0 is trying to address online signup process difficulty and enable the operator control side for the Wi-Fi devices.
The SmartCell gateway takes the Wi-Fi connection and makes it look like any other cellular connection. The northbound connections most common are GDP ? It acts as if it is part of the cellular network.
Bill Kish CTO Ruckus Wireless then went over how Ruckus makes advancements in antenna design by adapting the degrees of freedom that the chipsets provide for them. Their antenna testing uses throughput based metrics. This is traffic that is normally generated by the access point is used for throughput modeling, the access point does not need to go off channel during this procedure. They use the 802.11h channel change notification to announce to clients that the channel has changed on the access point. Keep in mind that client devices that support/understand channel change announcements are Broadcom and Atheros chipsets.
If ChannelFly is running on multiple Ruckus access points at the same time, distributed optimization technique (simulated annealing) is how the group of APs do not disrupt each others' ChannelFly algorithm. There is a period of 'burn-in' where the access points may interfere with one another while the proper operating channels are being determined by the ChannelFly algorithm.
Victor Shtrom told us more about the multiple spatial stream access points Ruckus has in their porfolio. Ruckus has 3x3 and 4x4 spatial stream capable antennas for outdoor point to point links, but without multi-path you won't get multiple spatial streams out of the access points. Multi-path is almost required to actually get multiple streams. The antennas' signals must look very different from one another if you're using more than 2x2 antennas. The antennas chosen to use with an outdoor 3x3 spatial stream access point would need to have different multi-path profiles to make full use of the spatial stream capabilities of the access point.
Ruckus was a sponsor of Wireless Field Day 3. As such, they were responsible for covering a portion of my travel and lodging expenses while attending Wireless Field Day 3. In addition, they provided me with a desk name plate made from antenna sector chips (silk screened with my name), a ZoneDirector 1100 controller and a 7321 access point (I think that's the right model of AP - they're shipping it so I don't have it just yet). They did not ask for, nor where they promised any kind of consideration in the writing of this review/analysis. The opinions and analysis provided within are my own and any errors or omissions are mine and mine alone.