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Xirrus debuts low-cost XR-520 wireless access point

22 Jan 2013
Xirrus XR-520 wireless access point

Wireless networking vendor Xirrus is making a play for the entry-level segment of the business market with a new low-cost Wi-Fi access point.

The firm is also releasing a cloud-based version of its management suite that eliminates the need for an on-premise server, it said.

Available from February, the Xirrus XR-520 is a new class of access point from the firm that features just two radios, but otherwise boasts the same firmware and features as its more costly high-end Wi-Fi array products.

Sean Larner, vice president of international sales at Xirrus, told V3 the XR-520 is intended to push the firm into the mass market with an access point aimed at smaller offices, classrooms, and hotel rooms.

"We've never been able to play in the congested end of the market until now," he said.

A key selling point is that the device is programmable, so it can be switched from having one 2.4GHz and one 5GHz band radio, to having both operate in the 5GHz band as mobile devices increasingly switch to Wi-Fi protocols using 5GHz, according to Larner.

The XR-520 supports 802.11n and is "802.11ac ratified," he said, as well as being certified for 802.11u and the Hotspot 2.0 technical specifications.

Xirrus' firmware also includes capabilities such as deep packet inspection of traffic, making it easier for customers to apply policies to control which applications can use the network and control bandwidth use.

"You can turn off some applications and limit bandwidth to some users. Some apps will use all the available bandwidth if you let them, so our system gives you control over the quality of service you can deliver," said Larner.

Applying such policies requires management tools, and Xirrus also unveiled a cloud-based version of its Xirrus Management System (XMS) called XMS Cloud, which does away with the need for a customer to operate an on-premise server to manage multiple access points.

This is currently only available in North America, where the firm has secured a hosting provider for the service, but is set to come online for UK and European customers sometime in the second quarter.

Like its on-premise version, XMS Cloud can be accessed via a browser or integrated with other management tools a customer may be using such as IBM Tivoli and HP Operations Manager.

Xirrus has also deployed an online Activation Server that enables zero-touch provisioning and deployment, according to Larner.

"You just plug in the access point to the network and it auto-provisions its own licence key and automatically configures itself so you can be up and running within seconds," he claimed.

The Xirrus XR-520 is expected to cost $675 and will be available through the firm's standard reseller channels.

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Daniel Robinson

Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.

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