Ubiquiti Networks Brings 802.11ac to Enterprise Wi-Fi APsby Ganesh T S on March 25, 2013 8:00 AM EST
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The enterprise Wi-Fi market is a hotly contested one with expensive offerings from companies such as Aruba Networks and Ruckus Wireless being the preferred choice of many IT administrators. Primary requirements for products in this market are the ability to support high client device densities and the provision of a robust and flexible management interface.
Ubiquiti Networks, founded in 2005, entered this market in Q4 2010 with their UniFi series. The offerings surprised the market with very attractive pricing while providing all the features available from the tier-one vendors. While those vendors have been a bit cautious in jumping on to the 802.11ac bandwagon, Ubiquiti is going ahead and launching the UniFi 3.0 Wi-Fi access point platform along with what seems to be the first 802.11ac enterprise AP.
The 802.11ac access point is based on the Broadcom platform (With the BCM4706 SoC, just like all the 802.11ac consumer routers / APs in the market right now). The APs also have wireless mesh capabilities. In a multi-AP deployment, wired uplinks are not needed for all of the access points.
The differentiating aspect of Ubiquiti's offering is the free UniFi 3.0 management software and controller. The latter can be run on-premises, or deployed in the cloud (either private or public). Some of the interesting features of UniFi include 'zero hand-off roaming' which allows users to roam while seamlessly switching between different access points without latency or interoperability issues. In essence, multiple APs can appear as a single AP to client devices. A single UniFi controller can manage multi-site distributed deployments. UniFi also provides detailed analytics and WLAN grouping capabilities, which are taken for granted in the enterprise Wi-Fi AP space.
Ubiquiti's UniFi 3.0 platform / 802.11ac AP is schedule to launch next month at a price point of just $299. With the arrival of 802.11ac-capable smartphones such as the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4, enterprise IT administrators are bound to be on the lookout for 802.11ac-capable gear. Ubiquiti Networks seems well-positioned to tap into that market.
A challenge for Ubiquiti would be the fact that solution providers in any enterprise space are usually well-entrenched. Administrators are also wary of trying out new vendors because of support issues and a multitude of other factors. Do any of our readers have experience with Ubiquiti's products in the enterprise space? Feel free to let us know about it in the comments.
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Ammaross - Monday, March 25, 2013 - linkI've used a pair of NanoStations for a 9-month temporary campus bridge between two buildings. The thing was solid as a rock, even after the construction crew built an elevator shaft directly in the line-of-sight. :(
tech.kyle - Monday, March 25, 2013 - linkWe use Bullets and Rockets at work for creating links that span up to about 25 miles. I've been pretty impressed with their offerings. We use a few other types of wireless bridges and they all make me groan when I have to support them. For the price, they're quite good. It's the antennas that are expensive.
bah12 - Monday, April 8, 2013 - linkAgreed we use the bullets exclusively for wireless bridges, can't be beat. One site is a sand plant extremely dirty, and lots of vibration, we use it to beam a signal to the dredge in the river about a mile away. I was very impressed, I've never needed to reboot them because they quit talking like oh so many other brands.
mflood - Monday, March 25, 2013 - linkI've hung Picostations all over Afghanistan and did a whole FOB with UniFi. They work great - and as noted - the price can't be beat.
yougotkicked - Monday, March 25, 2013 - linkas someone who both works for and attends a large university with campus-wide wi-fi, the price point and feature list on these makes me drool.
Braxus - Monday, March 25, 2013 - linkDang. Just purchased 6 UniFi AP Pros (their 802.11n dual band product). That being said, probably best to give the 802.11ac some time to mature. Know other companies still have problems with their 802.11ac products regarding overall continuous long-term link stability.
0ldman79 - Monday, March 25, 2013 - linkI use UBNT parts for my wireless Internet service.
Pretty good stuff, very good price, very reliable.
I am impatiently awaiting the Qualcomm Atheros 802.11ac outdoor equipment. Time for some serious bandwidth.
aebiv - Monday, March 25, 2013 - linkWe've been using the UniFi at several client sites (both cloud and on premise controllers) for about a year now, and while they can be beat for performance and some niche features, it comes at a high price.
Overall? They're an incredible buy, and more than enough for 95% of the market I've seen.
piroroadkill - Monday, March 25, 2013 - linkJust bought over a dozen UniFi AP Pros!
Damn these are good value, it cannot be understated.
It's pretty much impossible to be unimpressed by the cost/performance/added value in terms of management software package that Ubiquiti kit offers...
pixelstuff - Monday, March 25, 2013 - linkThe new (really large) High School building in my area installed over 50 of the UniFi units about a year ago. I don't work there, but know the IT staff, and they are thoroughly satisfied with them. They say they would use the UniFi products again if they had to do it over.