Wi-fi hardware startup Xirrus Inc. last week debuted its flagship product, which combines a WLAN switch and as many as 16 integrated access points in a single circular device.
The Wireless LAN Array comprises a controller, which manages spectrum and directs packet flow at the MAC (media access control) level; an antenna system designed to increase both the rate and range of the network; and access point radios that support a combination of 802.11a, b and g.
In the top-of-the-line version of the Array, there are 12 802.11a access point radios and four 802.11a/b/g access point radios, one of which can be used as an RF (radio-frequency) monitor. The Array also comes in configurations of four access points and eight access points.
A single 16-access-point Array can cover as much as 100,000 square feet and provides up to 864M bps of bandwidth, according to officials at Xirrus, in Westlake Village, Calif. Beta testers said this is a selling point.
"We tend to have pretty spiky usage," said Paul Rosenbaum, associate headmaster and chief operating officer at Viewpoint School, a private school in Calabasas, Calif., which is testing a 16-radio Array. "All the kids are here at the same time."
In addition to the Arrays, Xirrus is introducing management hardware for large enterprise deployments. The XM-3300 comes in three versions, which manage as many as 10, 50 or 500 Arrays, respectively. The device allows for centralized control of the network beyond basic packet control, with features such as rogue access point detection, firmware upgrades and authentication. Xirrus is also introducing a remote DC power system for the Arrays.
The Xirrus product line is due to reach the market next month. Arrays range in cost from $3,999 to $11,999. Pricing for the management appliance ranges from $4,999 to $24,999.