Meru Networks has announced two new dual-stream, enterprise 802.11ac access points, including one designed to replace an Ethernet wall plate.
Adding 11ac introduces a number of Wi-Fi improvements, including wider channels, higher encoding density, a larger number of spatial streams, beamforming for more reliable links, and eventually "multi-user MIMO" (which lets the access point send/receive with up to four clients at the same time). The result is higher throughput and greater capacity to meet the demands of many more Wi-Fi clients for real-time mobile applications such as video and voice.
The new access points have two radios, one for 2.4GHz, where it can support 802.11n clients, and one for 5GHz, which is required for 11ac. With two spatial streams, Meru says the 11ac radios can achieve a maximum 11ac data rate of up to 867Mbps, which in some cases and circumstances can exceed rival products that have a three-stream 11ac radio.
Meru says it achieves the 897Mbps rate by making full use of the 80MHz wide channel specified in the 11ac standard. Some 11ac access points have to balance tradeoffs between data rate and power use: sometimes using, or at least recommending, the narrower 40MHz channels; and sometimes reducing data rates in order to run on existing 802.3af Power over Ethernet connections.
The Meru AP122 is wall mounted by removing an existing Ethernet wall plate, adding a Meru bracket and then snapping on the access point. The antenna has been redesigned to take into account the lower, wall-oriented configuration, instead of a traditional ceiling mount.
The AP122 has two radios, each supporting dual streams, and works with standard 802.3af Power over Ethernet. There is a gigabit Ethernet backhaul port, an RJ45 pass-through port, and two additional 10/1000 Ethernet ports. The price starts at $595; it will be available in the second half of 2014.
The more conventional-looking access point is the AP822, likewise with two radios, and one of them also supporting two 11ac spatial streams. It, too, works with existing 802.3af infrastructures. The model with internal antennas starts at $895; the one with external antennas starts at $945. Both are available now.
Meru also announced that it is adopting for its WLAN controllers the APIs specified in the OpenFlow Standards 1.0 and 1.3, enabling Meru hardware to be a "citizen" of a software-defined network. Using these APIs, third-party SDN applications used to managed LAN switches, for example now can see and access the Meru controllers and, through them, manage and control the access points. For more information on Meru's SDN approach, check the vendor's web site.
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