Outdoor 802.11n has arrived

Now that 802.11n is ratified we are starting to see a rush of products come to market.  Of the the outdoor ones are the really interesting to me and probably to you since wireless IP cameras are mostly used outdoors where cabling is difficult. 

Why is 802.11n so great for us IP camera installers?  Its the throughput!  802.11n has a datarate of 300Mbps as opposed to its predecessor 802.11g which caps out at 54Mbps.  So in real numbers manufacturers are boasting UDP throughput numbers of anywhere from 100 - 180 Mbps of actual usable throughput and TCP numbers are less than that but still far above 20 Mbps which is the average 802.11g max.

More throughput means the following:

  • - More IP cameras accommodated on one access-point (reduces complexity)
  • - Megapixel over wifi is no longer a big no no
  • - Wireless Mesh now becomes more attractive

There are a couple of products that really caught my eye two of which are to be out by the end of the year and one which is already shipping.  All three are outdoor mesh products but can be used as standard access-points.

1) Ruckus Wireless 7762: This is the only unit that I know of that is actually in distribution today and is the least expensive of the bunch at $1999.  It includes Ruckus's patented beamflex technology and 18 element antenna array which effectively makes use of wireless beamforming, discussed in my last post Wireless Beamforming is so cool.  These APs are also centrally controlled by the Ruckus Zone Director which adjusts for RF conditions and manages the creation of the wireless mesh.  According to Ruckus this AP will give you 180Mbps of UDP throughput at 100m and 75Mbps at 400m.  You can find more information www.ruckuswireless.com

2) Motorola 7181: This is not out yet but according to Motorola expected to be out in December.  The 7181 is supposed to feature a new antenna technology that Motorola has shockingly labeled with an acronym.  ADEPT, (ADvanced Element Panel Technology), uses MIMO and dual polarized directional antennas to cover greater distances and achieve greater throughputs at those distances when compared to like APs with omni antennas.  While this is not out yet so I can't confirm this to be true it makes a lot of sense and I like the software controlled electrical down-tilt feature, very cool.  Sneak preview brochure here

3) Firetide Hotport 7000:  I found this one at ASIS this year and I will say that I was impressed by the build quality.  There are 3 10/100/1000 ports and two of which can put out standards based 802.3af POE so you can power 2 POE cameras through this one access point which leads to simpler installations.  Like the others Firetide is a dual radio configuration but its radios are each tri-band which means that the operator can select whether the radio uses 2.4Ghz, 4.9Ghz (Public safety) or 5Ghz.  Firetide offers this feature because it envisions the mesh network architecture differently than the other two.  The Ruckus and Motorola both use 5Ghz for intra-mesh connectivity and the 2.4Ghz for client access but Firetide uses both radios for intra-mesh connectivity and disregards client access.  This approach is great for throughput but requires cameras to be hardwired to a colocated access point which can increase cost significantly.  More information can be found at www.firetide.com.

I am currently on the search for outdoor 802.11n client devices that wont break the back.  I just purchased 2 x Ubiquiti MSM5s which have great promise.  I will test and report on the results.

If you know of any more outdoor 802.11n mesh or non-mesh access points please comment and let us know.  As always thanks for reading!

-Ronen Isaac WLANmall.com & Continental Computers