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Aerohive .11ac outdoor wireless access point: Tough enough for the IoT

Designed with the IoT environments in mind, Aerohive's new ruggedized 802.11ac outdoor wireless access point debuts.

Aerohive Networks introduced a new ruggedized 802.11ac outdoor wireless access point that can stand up to the elements. The latest Aerohive gigabit AP1130 has been designed with the Internet of Things in mind, to provide connectivity in challenging physical environments and climates.

New outdoor wireless access point supports IoT devices

The Internet of Things (IoT) includes Wi-Fi-enabled devices nestled inside -- as well as outside -- an enterprise's physical walls. IoT devices located outdoors, such as surveillance systems and sensors, also require wireless connectivity. But providing a resilient connection for devices deployed in extreme heat or cold environments -- where dust, dirt and vibration abound -- is a challenge.

The latest Aerohive 802.11ac AP1130 is Aerohive's first Gigabit Wi-Fi access point for outdoor environments. The lightweight AP has been built to withstand a range of harsh physical environments and viable weather conditions, which will help enterprises support the IoT, said Matt Edwards, product marketing manager for Aerohive. "This technology really enables Gigabit Wi-Fi to be available to everybody…and every device, regardless of their location," he said.

Installing and powering an outdoor wireless access point isn't easy. The new Aerohive AP1130 is equipped with both Power over Ethernet (PoE) and DC input options, and can be deployed using almost any power source, including batteries, solar, or wind power, according to Aerohive.

"Because enterprises don't have to jump through as many hurdles to power these access points, deployment is much cheaper," said Andre Kindness, senior analyst for Forrester Research, based in Cambridge, Mass.

The AP1130 can help supplement connectivity across long distances with Point-to-Point and Point-to-Multipoint links. The access point has an integrated buzzer to assist with antenna alignment during installation, as well as latency controls to guarantee high-speed transmission across distance, the vendor said. "These point-to-point links are an area that is often neglected by vendors," Aerohive's Edwards said. "There tends to be indoor and outdoor enterprise Wi-Fi, and then [separate] point-to-point technology. [Aerohive] is trying to unify that and make it easier for customers."

Lamar County School District based in Purvis, Miss. noticed it had a need for external wireless access after completing a district-wide 802.11ac indoor deployment across its 15 schools last year. The district has been beta testing the Aerohive 802.11ac AP1130 for outdoor connectivity for its 10,000 students and 1,3000 employees who are using the wireless network throughout the day, said Ross Randall, director of technology for the Lamar County School District.

"We have several sites within our campus that are particularly hard to get cable to, and a point-to-point bridge was something that we really needed…because our legacy bridges were not performing well," Randall said. "We are currently using the AP1130 access points in beta as bridges, as well as community access," he said.

The District currently has temporary trailers in place of a field house that was lost in a fire last year. The trailers needed Wi-Fi connectivity, but Randall and his team didn't want to have to install infrastructure for a temporary building. "I would have never bridged a building wirelessly where there were children learning before because I couldn't trust that the speeds would be great enough to support that kind of environment," he said. "But we used the AP1130s to bridge that building with one across the parking lot, put switches on both sides, and the system doesn't know there isn't a wire between them -- the data speeds are very fast."

How the IoT is affecting the wireless LAN

Aerohive isn't the first vendor to release a Gigabit outdoor wireless access point, but the timeframe between traditional, 802.11ac access points for indoor environments coming on the market and 802.11ac access points equipped for the outdoors being released has been shorter than with any another wireless standard of the past. This indicates that outdoor wireless access is becoming more important to enterprises, especially as it relates to the IoT, Forrester's Kindness said.

Businesses are using the Wi-Fi differently, and supporting many new kinds of devices that perhaps didn't require network connectivity before, Kindness said. "As a result, wireless products have to now be able to support both [indoor and outdoor] worlds."

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, news writer, and follow @GeeNarcisi on Twitter.

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