Ruckus pushes dirt-cheap 802.11n with new channel incentive program

Ruckus goes on the hunt for 802.11n customers with its new Mad Dog channel incentive program.

Ruckus Wireless, the scrappy wireless LAN (WLAN) provider, is using a new channel incentive program to convince businesses to drop their 802.11g technology and deploy faster but more expensive 802.11n systems.

As one of the few remaining independent WLAN players, it's also on a continued (though not always successful) mission to poach channel partners that may be fed up with Trapeze Networks, Colubris Networks and Meru Networks. Trapeze and Colubris both recently got snapped up, the former by Belden Cable and the latter by Hewlett-Packard ProCurve. Meru is one of the other remaining independent players.

Ruckus is offering dirt-cheap 802.11n technology in a swap-out program called Mad Dog that will have partners convincing their customers to trade in their Colubris, Trapeze and Meru equipment and replace it with Ruckus' 802.11n technology. The channel incentive program ends at the end of the year.

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"Everybody is on the same playing level because we all have access to the same wireless chip set. [Ruckus' competitors] have no advantage other than size," said David Callisch, vice president of marketing at Ruckus. "So if we can create a more compelling reason to move from 802.11g to 802.11n, then we can really start to gain market share."

802.11n is attractive to channel partners and their customers because it is so much faster than 802.11g. The system has added multiple input/output functions, allowing throughput that can be up to five times faster than 802.11g technology.

Ruckus' swap-out deal enables partners to acquire bundles of 10, 25, 50 and 100 ZoneFlex access points at aggressive prices if they trade in the same number of competitive units. The company promises a 60% to 75% savings on the suggested manufacturer price depending on the size of the bundle.

"Ten access points and a controller usually run about $15,000. With this deal this is about $3,500," Callisch said.

The Mad Dog effort also offers Ruckus Gold partners a 5% rebate on $25,000 or more in sales. Silver partners get a step rebate program that starts at 3% on the first sale and increases to 5% by the third sale.

Whether Ruckus will actually draw customers away from competitors is yet to be seen. The company already launched a channel incentive plan in the spring and summer to steal partners from Trapeze and Colubris. Callisch said Ruckus has drawn new partners, but most partners interviewed in the past indicated they would be more likely to add Ruckus equipment to their portfolios than actually abandon competitive products.

Still, Cathy Souza, senior director of business development for Ruckus partner ComputerLand of Silicon Valley in San Jose, Calif., said she "appreciates Ruckus being creative."

"They have good technology, and this gives us a good handle to approach the customers with," Souza said.

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