Motorola Solutions Inc. introduced a line of 802.11ac-capable access points specifically tailored to the hospitality industry. The new gigabit-compatible access points (APs) and wallplate, among Motorola's smallest, are engineered for aesthetically conscious organizations -- like resorts and hotels -- that want to diminish the impact of Wi-Fi hardware in visible locations.
Customer-facing properties, like retail spaces and hotels, must accommodate many guest users and an ever-increasing number of mobile devices. As they fight to remain competitive, those businesses need to consider 80211.ac to meet future traffic requirements and user demands, said Craig Mathias, principal at the advisory firm Farpoint Group, based in Ashland, Massachusetts. At the same time, hotels and resorts want to install new Wi-Fi technology without tarnishing the ambience of their meeting spaces or guest rooms. "The most important thing for [technology] geared toward hospitality is it needs to have the ability to be installed in a manner that's completely unobtrusive or obvious," Mathias said.
Motorola access points: Gigabit speed and capacity in a small package
Motorola's expanded portfolio of 802.11ac APs include the new AP 7502 wallplate and the 6.5X7-inch square traditional AP 7522 and AP 7532. Each is powered by Motorola's WiNG5 operating system.
The ceiling-mounted AP 7522 and AP 7532 offer .11ac capacity at an 802.11n price point and are suited for retail environments as well as meeting rooms, conference centers and lobbies within hotels, said Daran Hermans, a Motorola senior product manager. The AP 7522 offers 2x2 multiple-input and multiple output (MIMO) technology with two streams, and the dual radio AP 7532 offers 3x3 MIMO and three streams on both radios. Additionally, the two APs can support optional antennas to extend Wi-Fi range and can coordinate with Motorola's Wi-Fi-based locationing technology.
"Hospitality customers -- especially hotels -- are fanatical about everything that goes in the rooms that they designed. Hoteliers thrive on building a very comfortable environment that encourages people to come back and they hate any extra cords or anything visible that doesn't have to be," he said. "These compact access points are slim and trim, and have an aesthetic appeal when they are installed, while providing gigabit speeds."
At 3.5 square inches, the wallplate AP 7502 is the smallest enterprise-grade 802.11ac AP on the market today and a good fit inside hotel guest rooms, Hermans said.
The AP 7502 has two radios -- one 802.11ac and one 802.11n -- and four Ethernet ports. This wallplate option can be placed over existing Power over Ethernet (PoE) cabling and the WiNG5 OS extends existing Wi-Fi policies, technologies and configuration to the new AP. "The wallplate is designed for IT to snap it on the wall and be done with installation," he said.
"When doing an upgrade, in this case, moving to [802.11ac], it's important to not have to rip apart your walls and cabling," said Rohit Mehra, vice president of network infrastructure research at Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC. "[These access points] allow for a much quicker and easier installation."
The four Ethernet ports on the AP 7502 are a convenient feature for both hotels and guests who may have wired devices that also need connectivity, Mehra said. "Not only does this AP allow your wireless clients to connect, but it also allows for other wired devices -- like VoIP phones -- that a hotel might have in the room," he said.
Like the AP 7522 and AP 7532, the AP 7502 also supports location-based services -- including Motorola's Wi-Fi based locationing system. The AP 7502 also supports MPact, Motorola's Bluetooth-based Smart beacon positioning technology, MPact -- to further enhance engagement with guest users, Motorola's Hermans said.
Vendors expand 802.11ac options to enterprises
Other competing vendors in the wireless LAN market -- such as Aerohive and Meru -- have been gradually expanding their portfolios to offer affordable, enterprise-grade 802.11ac APs. It's important that enterprises can choose among a wide variety of form factors and power options as they head into technology refresh cycles or consider 802.11ac for their Wi-Fi needs.
"[Enterprises need] more than one or two types of [gigabit Wi-Fi] access points to choose from," IDC's Mehra said. "They want different form factors and capabilities so they can pick what .11ac technology they'll need in the long-term," he said.
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