Aruba Networks is expanding its outdoor WiFi portfolio with new 802.11ac access points that are easy to install and can withstand environmental issues such as rain, heat and high humidity.
Aruba officials are rolling out the company's new 270 Series access points, which are designed to bring enterprise-grade wireless connectivity to such public outdoor areas as educational and enterprise campuses, resorts and shopping malls. The 270 includes the AP-274, with external antennas, and the AP-275, with integrated antennas.
It comes as the increasingly mobile workforce is demanding greater WiFi capabilities in highly dense, public areas, according to company officials. Right now, most offerings are based on the 802.11n WiFi standard, they said. Leveraging the 802.11ac standard—also called 5G WiFi—brings not only greater speed, but also greater network capacity, enabling more devices to be connected to the network without significant degradation of performance.
"While others in the industry are launching two stream 802.11n products, we are leading the way by introducing the first and only enterprise-grade outdoor 802.11ac product on the market," Christian Gilby, director of product marketing at Aruba, said in a post on the company blog. "And we are doing it at price points that are below the competitors' inferior 802.11n products."
The 270 Series models, which can be ordered now, start at $1,595, according to Aruba officials.
The introduction of such new—and less costly—802.11ac products is expected to be a key driver in the continued expansion of the wireless LAN market, according to analysts at the Dell'Oro Group. The analysts in January said they expect the market to expand 45 percent by 2018, thanks in large part to the adoption of 802.11ac technologies.
"New, higher-speed 802.11ac wireless systems are being offered at lower prices versus the now older 802.11n systems, and at a lower price premium than that of the prior upgrade cycle," Dell'Oro Vice President Chris DePuy said in a statement. "We expect this to lead to robust adoption of 802.11ac devices by enterprises."
Aruba officials in January released a report on what they are calling the #GenMobile workforce. These younger employees coming into the workplace are molding their personal and professional lives around their mobile devices, and are demanding connectivity and access to corporate networks from anywhere and on any device. That demand is feeding into the need for higher performing WiFi networks in public places, officials said.
However, the 270 Series access points are not just about performance, they said. They're also designed to make it easier to install and manage and are more aesthetically pleasing for organizations. Aruba created a compact, element-resistant enclosure for the access points that does not expose wiring or antennas—the look is comparable to modern surveillance cameras—and that include single-screw mounting brackets, an integrated connector and antenna enclosure, and dual power-over-Ethernet (PoE+) and AC powering options. Aruba reduced the bill of materials for the devices from 11 to two—the access point and mounting bracket, Aruba's Gilby wrote.
The access points can withstand temperature variations that range from -40 degrees to more than 150 degrees Fahrenheit, and are designed to deal with persistent moisture and airborne contaminants. There also are no fans or other moving parts, officials said.