Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise debuts entry-level Wi-Fi 6 APs for SMBs

By Claus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chairman

Wi-Fi 6 networks are no longer only for high-end enterprise clients with deep pockets – but for anyone who wants high-quality Wi-Fi for their businesses. To that end Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise this week released two entry-level Wi-Fi 6-capable APs thus further expanding their Wi-Fi 6 portfolio, the company says. Features include controllerless architecture, DPI, analytics, content filtering, and application monitoring.

This week Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise released two indoor entry-level Wi-Fi 6-capable APs aimed squarely at the small and medium-sized enterprise networking market. The two units – named OmniAccess Stellar AP1311 and AP1301, respectively – are both 2 x 2 MIMO (in 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) and are powered by Qualcomm’s Networking Pro chipset platform. The launch means SMBs can now benefit from all of the quality-enhancing features of Wi-Fi 6 – including of course OFDMA – at an affordable price.

OmniAccess Stellar WLAN AP1311 product image front left
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise’s new OmniAccess Stellar AP1311 Wi-Fi 6 access point released this week.

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise has been investing heavily into its Wi-Fi 6 portfolio during the past few years and – remarkably – was the first vendor to release a certified Wi-Fi 6 outdoor access point in October of 2019.

The premium version of the new APs (OmniAccess Stellar AP1311) includes BLE and Zigbee radios as well as an additional Wi-Fi radio dedicated to RF optimisation and security threat scanning. The idea of course is to offer businesses the opportunity to deploy and manage a single, unified network in support of both Wi-Fi and any IoT-type applications that would require the use of Zigbee or BLE.

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The company says one good example can be found in the hospitality segment where hotel door locks often are managed wirelessly via Zigbee. With Zigbee-capable APs and Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise’s OmniVista network management system – which allows backend integration with a Zigbee control service – this and many other use cases can be supported on a single network, the company says.

The new base version AP – called OmniAccess Stellar 1301 – offers all the standard Wi-Fi 6 functionality that SMBs require at low cost, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise says. Key customer verticals include hospitality, education, government, healthcare, and transportation, the company says.

Key features: Distributed architecture, DPI, & application monitoring

Key differentiators for Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise’s Wi-Fi solutions include distributed control architecture for easier deployment and scalability. This also means that stand-alone controllers are not needed. Features comprise deep-packet inspection built into APs for application monitoring (and content filtering) as well as unified wired and wireless network deployment, management, and troubleshooting from the company’s OmniVista network management platform, available on-premise or in the Cloud.

And although Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise may not be the most well known Wi-Fi networking kit vendor, their wins are substantial. Reference clients include California State University (CSU) with more than 500,000 users across 20+ campus locations and Aster DM Healthcare of the United Arab Emirates, where an Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise network including Wi-Fi serves 25 hospitals, 117 clinics, and 268 pharmacies across the Middle East.

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Wi-Fi 6 access points and other networking solutions are available in 115 countries across the world. The company says it expects to release high-end Wi-Fi 6 APs later this year to complement existing mid-range models as well as the new entry-level APs launched this week.

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