In a performance and capacity competition run by the Croatian Academic and Research Network (CARNet), “a widely respected public institution established in 1991,” Ruckus won out as the top solution, according to a company press release.
CARNet measured 19 different solution providers’ access points, including Ruckus Wireless, Aerohive, Aruba, Cisco (including Cisco/Meraki), HP, Ubiquiti, and Xirrus. Both 802.11ac and 802.11n solutions were tested. Here was CARNet’s methodology:
Using industry standard test tools, access points in the tests were stressed in progressive testing scenarios that included 12, 23, 36 and 60 clients, using an increasing number of clients for each test that measured aggregate Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) throughput.
Additionally, no vendor was allowed to pay for or subsidize, and therefore influence the testing. Each company was allowed to bring their choice of access points, as well as bring one engineer to the test site.
Here’s a more in depth dive into how CARNet ran the competition:
802.11ac Wave 1 APs from Aerohive, Aruba, Cisco (including Cisco/Meraki) and HP were tested by CARNet using a wide variety of client mobile devices, both 802.11ac and 802.11n compatible, in order to closely simulate real-world environments. All APs tested were placed outside of a classroom at CARNet, separated from the client devices by 5dB (measured thickness) drywall. A real-world mix (60 total) of various mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets and laptops from different manufacturers, each with varying Wi-Fi specifications and operating systems, were used. An increasing number of clients were added for each new throughput test (measured in downstream Mbps), and each AP tested had to perform in the presence of known radio frequency (RF) interference. CARNet observed and documented the maximum throughput to all of the test client devices.
Each vendor in attendance was given an opportunity to test each of their APs themselves, to ensure they were operating as desired, and had the opportunity to optimize configurations of each AP for the best possible performance. No effort was made by CARNet to “clean up” the RF environment, as real-world deployments have to deal with random, and often uncontrollable, levels of modulated and unmodulated interference. CARNet then tested each AP three times, with the highest throughput number recorded.
In five rounds of testing in different scenarios, “the Ruckus ZoneFlex R700 and[/or] R500 APs consistently showed the best performance, coming out on top every time.”
Even if CARNet isn’t a huge, well-known name here in the US, their testing methodology looks good to me, especially the emphasis on testing performance in real-world conditions rather than the idealized conditions of a lab. The fact that Ruckus blew away the competition in those conditions for its weight class, 802.11ac Wave 1 access points, suggests that the competition has some work to do if they want to live up to the name.