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Xirrus unveils rugged Wi-Fi 'super access point'

WLAN vendor Xirrus announced its first outdoor Wi-Fi products, a hardened access point and two sealed enclosures that can encase its indoor product line.

Xirrus has created a kind of "super access point" -- packing up to 16 radios into a single device, with an integrated controller, to maximize Wi-Fi capacity. [See blogger Craig Mathias: "Xirrus: Bringing Modularity to Enterprise-Class Wi-Fi"] The new products extend this approach to industrial and outdoor deployments.

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The new XR-1000H Array can be fitted with one or two 802.11n radios, each with a 3x3 MIMO configuration to support a maximum data rate of 450Mbps. Both radios can run on either the 2.4 or 5GHz bands. One radio can be designated as a dedicated wireless backhaul connection. The array supports Power over Ethernet. The modular design means the 11n radios could be swapped in future for the near-gigabit Wi-Fi radios that will support the 802.11ac standard.

The unit's IP67-rated enclosure protects against water and dust; it operates in a temperature range from minus 40 to 149 degrees Fahrenheit. Xirrus offers a variety of external antenna models that screw onto the 1000H, to create different Wi-Fi coverage patterns and point-to-point wireless connections.

The second new outdoor offering is a set of enclosures that can accept any of the existing Xirrus indoor units, with four to 16 radios. The XR-Series Outdoor Enclosures can be used to create high-capacity Wi-Fi coverage for stadiums, train or bus stations, conference sites or similar locations with large numbers of users.

One customer for the enclosures is the Port of Houston, which used them to create blanket Wi-Fi coverage over 13 million square feet with 48 Xirrus arrays in place of 240 separate access points. Using wireless backhaul connections eliminated the need for fiber backhaul links for three-quarters of the units.

Both the new outdoor array and the new enclosures are in beta test, and are schedules to ship in June 2012. The XR-1000H unit is priced at $2,500; the new enclosures start at $1,200.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww Email: john_cox@nww.com Blog RSS feed: http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/2989/feed

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