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BeamFlex
The Smart Wi-Fi Antenna Technology That Steers Signals to High-Quality Paths.

For greater speed, fewer errors, and instant bandwidth delivery, BeamFlex offers first-of-its-kind smart antenna technology that maximizes signal coverage, throughput, and network capacity. It delivers MIMO benefits to 802.11a/b/g/n devices, to further increase MIMO diversity gain and maximize spatial multiplexing potential—at minimal cost.

BeamFlex consists of a smart, compact antenna array with multiple elements, which can be combined in real time to form unique antenna patterns. The advanced BeamFlex system software continually learns the environment with all its hostilities and interference sources, including disruptive RF conditions, numerous communicating devices, network performance issues, and application flows. Then, it selects the optimum antenna pattern for each communicating device in real time, while actively avoiding interference and minimizing noise to nearby networks and devices.

BeamFlex offers:

Unlike omni-directional antennas that radiate signals in all directions, BeamFlex directs transmit energy towards the best path to the receiving device. And unlike fixed-positioned directional antennas, BeamFlex dynamically configures its "beam" on a per-station, per-packet basis, to achieve omni-directional coverage.

The first of its kind smart antenna system that delivers extended Wi-Fi range and coverage, stable connectivity and higher performance.

BeamFlex is an agile antenna array with multiple high-gain, directional antenna elements that are combined in real time to offer an exponential increase in performance. With N number of high-gain, directional antenna elements, a BeamFlex smart antenna provides 2n-1 unique radiating patterns to maximize range and coverage. For example, a 19-element antenna array offers over 4,200 unique antenna patterns to a given client.

Completely standards based, the BeamFlex smart antenna system works with any off-the-shelf 802.11a/b/g/n chipset and is integrated into every Ruckus MediaFlex and ZoneFlex Smart Wi-Fi access point.

How it works

Unlike omnidirectional antennas that radiate signals in all directions, BeamFlex directs transmit energy towards the best path to the receiving device. And unlike fi xedpositioned directional antennas, BeamFlex dynamically configures and re-configures its “beam” to achieve omnidirectional coverage with directional performance within a given environment.

The BeamFlex smart antenna is controlled by expert system software that automatically reconfigures the antenna array on a per packet basis, selecting the best performing and highest quality signal path and optimum data rate for each receiving device.

BeamFlex takes advantage of 802.11’s built-in acknowledgement mechanisms using 802.11 acknowledgements to continually ascertain the quality and performance of a physical RF link.

The expert software system within BeamFlex extracts important information from all 802.11 packets received such as the sender’s performance, the optimum data rate, RSSI, error rates and approximate location. It then ranks the optimum antenna patterns for each communicating device keeping track of the best performing signal path at any time for any given client.

What’s the big deal?

Beamflex Antenna and BeamConsistent Performance
By continuously steering transmissions to high quality signal paths, BeamFlex maximizes and sustains Wi-Fi transmission speeds while minimizing transmission errors. BeamFlex stabilizes wireless network performance to enable consistent throughput at range.

Extended Range
And because BeamFlex enables high-gain, directional Wi-Fi signals to clients, it delivers a three- to-four-fold increase in range over any other Wi-Fi access point.

Stable Connections
Through antenna diversity and dynamic adaptation, BeamFlex ensures that the best performing and most reliable signal path is used at any given time thereby minimizing erratic Wi-Fi behavior such as dropped connections.

Interference Avoidance and Rejection
BeamFlex is able to select antenna patterns that focus RF energy away from the direction of interference; thereby attenuating noise to the receiving station. This enables remarkable improvements in signal gain while at the same time reducing noise. Using these interference rejection and avoidance techniques, a single ZoneFlex AP can realize up to 9 dBi in signal gain and 17 dB in interference mitigation. An interference avoidance algorithm enables the BeamFlex software to detect the direction of interference from, for example, a neighboring network, a microwave oven or a nearby Bluetooth device. In response, BeamFlex is able to select antenna patterns that direct energy away from the direction of interference, thereby attenuating noise to the receiving station.

Better RF Neighbor
Because BeamFlex only focuses RF energy where it’s needed, it interferes less with other Wi-Fi access points and clients.

Automatic Adaptation
Dynamically confi guring the Wi-Fi “beam” hundreds of times each second, BeamFlex can adapt in real-time to environmental changes — steering signals around obstacles, interference and other hazards that would otherwise negatively affect performance.

BeamFlex effectively allows each Ruckus AP to deliver high gain directional Wi-Fi signals in 360º while simultaneously minimizing noise to nearby networks, devices and other APs.

Features and Benefits:

Features:

  • Multiple directional high-gain elements
  • Real time optimization expert system
  • Hundreds to thousands of software-controlled beam patterns
  • Compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n networks
  • Continuous learning based on inputs from network layers 0 through 7
  • On-the-fly antenna reconfiguration and transmission policy management per packet, per flow, per receiving device
  • Up to 9 dBi signal gain and 17 dB interference mitigation

Benefits:

  • Fewer APs reach farther while delivering more reliable client connectivity
  • Self-healing, self-optimizing beam steering antenna system proven in more than 1 million installations
  • Mitigates interference in a high density client and AP environment
  • Extends Wi-Fi range and coverage by focusing Wi-Fi signals toward client
  • Maximizes AP and client performance
  • Eliminates dead spots

Solutions:

Smart Antennas with Unmatched Agility

BeamFlex Antenna

Central to BeamFlex is an agile antenna system with multiple high-gain, directional antenna elements that can be combined in real time to offer an exponential increase in diversity order. With N number of high-gain, directional antenna elements, a BeamFlex antenna array provides 2N-1 unique radiating patterns to maximize range and coverage. A diversity combiner composed of low cost, software-controlled circuitry allows the BeamFlex software to configure antenna patterns in real time. The BeamFlex expert system software constantly learns the environment - the RF conditions, communicating devices, network performance and application flows - and ranks the optimum antenna patterns for each communicating device. Capable of re-configuring the antenna on a per packet basis the transmit control module selects a high quality signal path and optimum data rate for each receiving device. The BeamFlex software interfaces to the 802.11 MAC layer and is compatible with standard 802.11 chipsets. Residing in the host processor, it adds minimal incremental CPU load and memory utilization.

BeamFlex Smart Antenna Array

BeamFlex Smart Antenna Array

A Systems Approach to MIMO Diversity

In addition to offering a massive order of diverse path options, joint-optimization of the antenna structure and transmission policies based on real time, multi-disciplinary knowledge allows BeamFlex to maximize signal coverage, throughput, network capacity, ensuring consistent and instantaneous bandwidth delivery to real-time applications such as video and online games.

Standards Compliance

Today, BeamFlex brings the benefits of smart antenna systems to 802.11b/g/a networks without requiring the use of new signal processing silicon. Until the 802.11n standard arrives, any silicon-based implementation of MIMO spatial multiplexing is subject to obsolescence. Implemented at the physical antenna and driver software levels, BeamFlex is compatible with all standard 802.11 chipsets, today and tomorrow.

Enhancing Installed Wi-Fi Devices

BeamFlex offers substantial performance and range improvements to the Wi-Fi installed base even when implemented on only the access point or the station side; when it is integrated on both, BeamFlex provides full transmit and receive diversity to deliver the highest order of optimization.

Most Cost Effective

The cost of antenna material is minuscule compared to the cost of a radio chain. By using a nimble, software-combinable antenna array to achieve diversity without additional radios and by leveraging commoditized, mass market Wi-Fi chipsets, BeamFlex produces performance and range optimization at a better price/performance ratio than pre-standard MIMO chipsets with multiple radios.

Recent research has started focusing on reducing MIMO complexity, power consumption and cost by employing a reduced number of radio chains and optimally allocating each chain to one of a larger number of antennas controlled via an antenna selection scheme.

As an example, a minimum MIMO implementation that provides both spatial multiplexing and receive diversity requires three sets of antennas and radios for single band and six sets for dual-band (2.5 and 5 GHz) support.

With BeamFlex providing diversity coverage, a 2x2 MIMO implementation can achieve improved spatial multiplexing and diversity gains at the same time with only two radios for single band and four radios for dual-band support, thereby reducing cost, power consumption and space.

Active Interference Avoidance

Unlike omni-directional antennas that radiate signals in all directions, BeamFlex specifically directs transmit energy towards the best path to the receiving device. And unlike fixed-positioned directional antennas, BeamFlex dynamically configures its "beam" on a per-station, per packet basis to achieve omni-directional coverage in a home. Offering the best of both antenna technologies, BeamFlex maximizes power efficiency while minimizing noise to nearby networks and devices.

In addition, an interference avoidance algorithm enables the BeamFlex software to detect the direction of interference from, for example, a neighboring network, a microwave oven or a nearby blue tooth device. In response, BeamFlex is able to select antenna patterns that direct energy away from the direction of interference; thereby attenuating noise to the receiving station.

The following performance report demonstrates the power of the BeamFlex Interference Avoidance algorithm.

BeamFlex Interference Avoidance algorithm
RF Interference Impact Testing Ruckus 2900 AP to Ruckus 2501 Client
Ruckus 2900 AP to Off-the-Shelf 802.11g Client Off-the-shelf 802.11 AP to Off-the-Shelf 802.11g Client

Documentation:

Download the Ruckus BeamFlex Datasheet (PDF).