By: Richard Watson, Product Marketing Manager
Which RF technology do you choose?
One of Ruckus’ strong benefits has always been BeamFlex™, our adaptive antenna solution. Instead of a general purpose omnidirectional antenna, Ruckus found that using an intelligent antenna design clients could receive a more reliable signal from the access point AND interference could be mitigated in areas to improve overall performance.
With the advent of 802.11ac, a standardized, chip-level transmit beamforming (TxBF) is supported. A popular misconception, spread by our competitors, is that TxBF accomplishes the same end goals as BeamFlex, rendering BeamFlex useless. They are wrong.
While the chip-level beamforming is beneficial, it does not provide the same benefit set as Ruckus BeamFlex. The 802.11ac standard TxBF is designed to address the issue of strengthening the client SNR through constructive interference. Based on feedback from client devices, TxBF involves minuscule adjustments to the timing (phase) of signals transmitted by the different radio chains of the AP.
However, to provide a maximized customer wireless experience, this is only half the story. With the Ruckus solutions, BeamFlex manipulates the electrical properties of the AP antennas in order to adaptively control the direction in which transmissions are sent from the AP. The software algorithm behind BeamFlex makes its antenna control decisions to optimize throughput on a packet-by-packet basis. Since BeamFlex ensures that signals are transmitted in directions that optimize throughput, it also means that signals are directed away from areas in the network where they would be seen as interference. In other words, BeamFlex delivers the added benefit of interference mitigation. This compounds any benefit you might get from an omnidirectional antenna that is typically used in competitive access points.
The assumption that the standard 802.11ac beamforming support obviates any benefit of BeamFlex is not correct. TxBF maximizes signal-to-noise at the client device by manipulating signal timing, whereas BeamFlex maximizes throughput by manipulating signal direction. These are very different and complimentary technologies.
So, what is the answer as to which technology to choose? Both!