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This syndicated post originally appeared at Network World Zeus Kerravala.

Aerohive’s AP150W wall plate is packed with features,
including 802.11 AC Wave 2 and Zigbee, and costs
a lot less than other Wi-Fi expanding options.

In many industries, it’s critical to get Wi-Fi everywhere, but it can often be difficult accomplish this. For example, extending a hotel comprised of smaller cottage-type rooms or one with lots of suites has many hard to reach places with traditional access point (AP) placement. Dorm rooms or hospitals typically want Wi-Fi everywhere, but it’s often difficult to provision it because of interference from thick walls or other infrastructure. 

One possible solution is to put an AP in every room, but that can get prohibitively expensive given the cost of APs and the expense of running new cables to every location.

Another option has been the growing number of “wall plate” APs where the existing wall plate is removed and an AP in the form factor of a wall plate is connected into the existing Ethernet cable, bringing Wi-Fi to that location.

Aerohive AP150W wall plate features

This week Aerohive launched its own version of the wall plate AP with the introduction of the AP150W. As I mentioned before, there are a number of these on the market, but most are designed for basic Wi-Fi connectivity. Aerohive loaded the product up with the following features:

  • 802.11 AC Wave 2
  • 3×3:3 radio configuration
  • Integrated Bluetooth low energy (BLE)
  • Integrated Zigbee
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Passive pass-through port
  • Cloud managed using Aerohive Connect or Select offering

I’ve checked the specs from the competitive products, and I believe the AP150W is the only one that supports 3×3 radios at 5Ghz and supports Zigbee. Bandwidth utilization over Wi-Fi continues to explode because of videoconferencing, streaming video and VoIP, and 3×3 radios provide better performance than the existing 2×2 products.

The inclusion of Zigbee offers some level of investment protection as the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes more widely deployed. To date, the use of Zigbee has been primarily for home automation, but things like luminosity sensors are starting to connect using the protocol. In a world where literally everything is being connected, supporting the broadest range of connectivity options is important for ensuring a product installed today can be used in the future.

The passive pass-through port is an often-overlooked feature and is offered only by Aerohive and Aruba Networks. Most wall plates have two Ethernet jacks on them. When the plate is removed and the AP is installed, the second port is covered up and wasted. The pass-through port connects the second jack into the back of the wall plate AP and makes the port accessible. This can be used to connect IP phones or other devices in the room.

How much the Aerohive AP150W costs

Aerohive priced the product extremely aggressively at $299, which includes a free perpetual license to the Aerohive Connect cloud management tool. Customers that require a fuller feature management platform can later upgrade to Select if they so choose. The range of pricing for the other products in this class is up to $599, making the AP150W substantially cheaper than other options.

For most industries, Wi-Fi is now a must-have technology because it powers IoT, customer service, and mobility, and it should be thought of as one of the core pillars of digital transformation. Getting Wi-Fi everywhere can be an expensive, complicated process for many organizations. Products like the Aerohive AP150W make the expansion of Wi-Fi simple and cost effective, giving organizations no excuse for having poor quality wireless access.

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.

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