Press Release

Ruckus Wireless Unveils Smart Mobile Wi-Fi Portfolio Enabling Operators to Strategically Integrate 802.11 with Cellular Networks

Extensive Radio, Backhaul and Core Gateway Technologies Help Operators Deliver Higher Traffic Density at a Lower Total Cost of Ownership While Paving the Way for 4G Heterogeneous Networks

MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS, Barcelona, 14 February 2011 – Ruckus Wireless™ today unveiled a comprehensive product and technology roadmap, including a new category of mobile Wi-Fi gateways, aimed at helping mobile operators cleanly integrate carrier-purposed Smart Wi-Fi technology into 3G and 4G cellular infrastructures.

With these new Ruckus products and technologies, mobile operators will now be able to deliver Wi-Fi services more economically by leveraging their existing mobile core networks to realize immediate capacity relief and enhance the subscriber experience – giving them a head start in the broadband race to create a next generation heterogeneous network footprint.

“What the Internet did to transform how we access content and services, the mobile Internet is now doing to liberate when and where we can get access,” said Selina Lo, president and CEO of Ruckus Wireless. “Wi-Fi is becoming an integral part of the mobile network fabric that enables this revolution. Its role in the mobile Internet ecosystem will endure as long as the appetite for access continues unabated, even with LTE becoming a reality,” said Lo.

With Wi-Fi embedded in virtually every mobile Internet device, common hotspot services have quickly become a required offering among competitive carriers. Wi-Fi hotspots are also a quick and cost-effective way for mobile operators to inject wireless capacity in areas of high usage, thereby alleviating the pressures on 3G infrastructures caused by the explosion of mobile Internet data traffic.

However, the lack of integration between Wi-Fi hotspots and cellular networks is hampering operators from delivering a seamless and consistent subscriber experience to the exploding population of smartphone and tablet users. Having to maintain separate management and back-end systems over the long term increases operational overhead and limits operators’ flexibility in creating new services.

“Ruckus has again innovated new products and technologies that not only streamline Wi-Fi deployment and operations for carriers but will ultimately make it easy for mobile users to move from Wi-Fi to cellular and back without fumbling with network selection and passwords, losing sessions or having to be aware of which wireless technology their devices are using,” said Lo.

The Ruckus Mobile Wi-Fi portfolio features a new Wireless Services Gateway (WSG), the industry’s first mobile Wi-Fi gateway that acts as a central point of control for Smart Wi-Fi access points while enabling seamless service integration with the mobile core. Ruckus has also extended its patented BeamFlex smart antenna and Smart Mesh backhaul technologies to enable broad deployment of multi-access, small cell base stations in the future. The Ruckus Mobile Wi-Fi solution is the ideal foundation for operators looking to:

  • increase the reliability of unlicensed spectrum Wi-Fi services;
  • add coverage and capacity at the lowest possible cost;
  • integrate Wi-Fi with cellular core services over standard 3GPP interfaces;
  • simplify the subscriber experience with auto-provisioning of Wi-Fi client devices;
  • leverage Smart Wi-Fi to supply cost effective backhaul for future microcell services; and
  • enable transparent roaming between Wi-Fi and 3G/4G networks in the future.

Introducing the Ruckus Wireless Services Gateway for Seamless Cellular Integration

The new Ruckus WSG is the industry’s first Mobile Wi-Fi gateway combining 3GPP WLAN access gateway (WAG) functions and advanced WLAN controller capabilities on a scalable, carrier-purposed platform.

Situated between the Wi-Fi network and the mobile core, the Ruckus WSG interfaces with core AAA systems for client authentication and policy setting. Supporting a variety of client authentication methods including 802.1x EAP-SIM/AKA, MAC address, and WISPr-based captive portal, the WSG enables a myriad of hotspot business models such as free, usage-based, ad-based, premium and wholesale services.

The WSG also enables seamless mobility across Wi-Fi APs for both SIM-based and non-SIM devices by keeping a local mobility cache, obviating the need to burden expensive core resources with every Wi-Fi mobility event. This is crucial as mobility events may occur within small cell topologies much more frequently than current core systems, designed for macro cellular networks, are able to handle.

Patented automatic client provisioning technology on the WSG allows popular client devices to be automatically configured for access upon service activation. Subscribers no longer need to sign on explicitly every time they access hotspot services. This further enhances the experience of the user while maximizing traffic offload for the operator. Giving operators maximum architecture flexibility, the Ruckus WSG supports the following traffic forwarding options:

  • local breakout at the AP to offload the entire Wi-Fi data path from the WSG;
  • secure tunnel from the AP to the WSG with local breakout at the WSG, to offload Wi-Fi traffic from the backhaul and the core network; and/or
  • various tunneling options to direct traffic from the WSG to forwarding gateways in the mobile core.

The Ruckus WSG also incorporates advanced WLAN controller services critical for the deployment and optimization of large-scale Wi-Fi networks. Smart Mesh management provides auto-formation, auto-optimization and auto-healing of mesh topologies allowing operators to install APs at locations where wired backhaul isn’t available. Dynamic RF management on the WSG continuously optimizes power and channel settings across downstream APs to mitigate interference and maximize overall network capacity. In high-density locations, automatic load balancing of clients across adjacent APs increases network performance and enhances user experience.

Integrating a carrier-grade Wi-Fi element management system (EMS), the WSG is capable of managing tens of thousands of Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi APs and hundreds of thousands of Wi-Fi clients. The advanced EMS provides tools for AP auto-discovery and provisioning, capacity planning and management, SLA visibility, advanced Wi-Fi troubleshooting, and trending reports and customized graphs. It also provides an API for integration with existing carrier NMS/OSS systems.

Built on a distributed architecture, Ruckus WSGs can be clustered to provide unmatched linear scalability and resiliency. Available in the second half of 2011, the Ruckus WSG can process up to 20Gbps of throughput per 2U of rack space and manage up to 10,000 Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi access points.

Reliable Wi-Fi Coverage Now, Add Small Cellular Radios Where and When Needed

The demand for capacity and speed is driving mobile operators towards a heterogeneous network strategy — augmenting macro cellular networks with many smaller radios in high-density locations. While the technologies for large-scale heterogeneous networks are still in development, operators can now put in motion a deployment process with Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi.

One of the practical challenges in small cell deployments is site acquisition, a costly and time-consuming process, and literally a battleground for land grab. By deploying Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi APs today, operators can quickly establish their small cell site footprint. Future radio deployments can make use of the same mounting positions, leasing arrangement, power and backhaul systems already in place.

The Ruckus Mobile Wi-Fi portfolio brings together the complete collection of indoor and outdoor Ruckus ZoneFlex™ APs that can be fully managed by the Ruckus WSG. All ZoneFlex APs are equipped with patented BeamFlex smart antenna technology for automatic interference avoidance, critical in assuring performance, range and reliability in unlicensed spectrum operations. ZoneFlex outdoor access points are delivered in form factors that are aesthetically suitable for street-level deployment and packaged for single pole-climber installation.

Cost Effective Backhaul for Small Cells with Smart Meshing

A missing piece of the puzzle in realizing massive outdoor small cell implementations is the backhaul. Fiber may not be readily available at all the small cell sites. Microwave backhaul requires line-of-sight which cannot be guaranteed at the street level. Other backhaul methods, such as WiMAX and proprietary wireless, can add significant CAPEX and OPEX when deployed on a large scale. And self-backhaul, using already scarce licensed spectrum resources, will impact access performance.

Ruckus Smart Mesh offers cost advantages and deployment flexibility that are unmatched by other backhaul alternatives. While it defies conventional wisdom to use inherently unreliable Wi-Fi technology for a part of the network that must be ultra reliable, Ruckus Smart Mesh is unlike any other conventional Wi-Fi backhaul technology, leveraging the following innovations to increase diversity and maximize resilience:

  • advanced BeamFlex smart antenna technology that enables each radio to autonomously steer Wi-Fi signals away from interference and physical obstructions to achieve the highest possible data rate while preventing packet loss;
  • intelligent Smart Channels technology that allows the APs on a mesh link to continually monitor and fast-switch to the channel with the highest capacity in real time to maximize throughput; and
  • an adaptive Smart Mesh topology system that self-organizes, self-optimizes and self-heals to maximize system-level resilience and network performance without manual antenna aiming and topology tuning.

Already proven in many carrier Wi-Fi deployments across the globe, Smart Mesh is a basic feature on all Ruckus ZoneFlex indoor and outdoor APs. A software upgrade to add support for cellular backhaul services will be available in the second half of 2011.