Published on July 26th, 2012 | by Alexis Argent
4Gon interview Ubiquiti on UniFi Pro, airFiber and the future of Wireless Technology
4Gon Solutions exclusively speak to Ben Moore Vice President of Business Development at wireless communications manufacturer Ubiquiti Networks about Ubiquiti products, most significantly the Ubiquiti UniFi and Ubiquiti airFiber range.
Kathleen Reed puts the questions to Ben Moore, Vice President of Business Development of Ubiquiti Networks Inc. Listen to the Podcast and see the interview transcript below.
4Gon: Thanks for joining us today, Ben. So the response to the Ubiquiti airFiber and Ubiquiti UniFi Pro has been fantastic with 4Gon customer base so far. What has the response been to this technology in general and are there any further advancements you are going to be making in these products?
Ben Moore: Yes. The first one I’ll start with is the Ubiquiti airFiber. I guess we’ve done a controlled release so far, as far as shipments go. Our response, pre-orders, all of those kinds of things have been (as you’ve mentioned) very positive. I think the best thing about this (and I’ll just discuss a little bit later on) is we’re actually creating a market with this product that maybe didn’t exist prior to, just because of the cost points and the performance of the product. It’s basically priced at a point where it doesn’t make sense not to do it – whether you’re doing a backup link, whether you’re doing multiple links, you’ve got fiber under a building and you want to have a backup or you’re using that as your primary, it’s really created – what we feel, will create it a significant market where these products will ply into fiber rings around the world and provide last mile backhaul coverage.
Ben Moore: Yes, there will be additional advancements to that product line. If you’ve seen our video, we’ve mentioned in there that it will most likely be the first of many products in this platform as we call it, within Ubiquiti. So there will be additional advancements with airFiber – I can’t disclose what those are at this point but there are definitely more efforts in developing this platform as we launch and we get the product out there. We’re excited to see the response from this product on the marketplace, from a product performance standpoint. And as far as Ubiquiti UniFi Pro – although Ubiquiti UniFi devices are out on the market for some time (probably about a year and a half, maybe a little bit over a year and a half now, at this point) the Pro series is our first dual-band radio, 2.3 A F, so it’s kind of a higher end solution. Response has also been very positive. We’ve been shipping that product now for about a month and a half and the response has been very good. Performance has been good.
Ben Moore: So basically, at this point, the demand is very strong. And as far as developments go for the UAP Pro, yes, there will be more features added to all of the UniFi products. I mean, there’s a lot of software development being done to continue to add features and performance. While obviously, with all of the Ubiquiti products, we don’t ever charge for any of those upgrades or anything like that. Any software enhancements that are made are included free of charge, so there’s no upgrades or service contracts or anything like that that are required to be able to get those enhancements. And then, from UniFi products’ hardware in general, yes, there are definitely additional products that we’re working on. Again, there’s nothing we can disclose at this point but the UniFi product line is continuing to be added to and it’s been very positive in the company and we expect that to continue.
4Gon: Okay, excellent. So can you tell 4Gon listeners in your own words just why you’d choose the Ubiquiti UniFi Pro and what separates it from other products in the marketplace such as Ruckus Wireless, Aerohive, Xirrus, and others?
Ben Moore: I think what separates us is, first of all – I mean there are a number of companies out there that are providing enterprise type solutions. There are some very good products out there. I would say what sets us apart is some of those things that I’ve mentioned. There is, first of all, from a performance standpoint the product is very solid. It’s very easy to use. It’s a very nice user-experience for customers. The UIs (user interface) is very clean and like I’ve said it’s something that many people can go out and do, so it really puts a lot of the tools and many people move their fingertips, without having to have a serious time and investment involved from a training standpoint to get the products up and running. Other things obviously from a cost standpoint were fractions of the costs, as some of these other vendors out there that have similar performance, similar characteristics – no controller is required, so you can learn it on a PC, or some of the little things (again, that’s something that the other providers can’t make you purchase) Those controllers can be very expensive. As well, like I’ve mentioned from a software upgrade and upgrade perspective, those are all included with the product.
Ben Moore: When you purchase that hardware, Ubiquiti enhancements are rolled out and those changes, those enhancements are included at no costs. So your fractions to operate again, service contracts, there are none within Ubiquiti. You don’t have to purchase something every year. In fact, there is none available. So the cost of ownership and performance and all of those things are coming together and we think it provides customers with the ultimate enterprise solution.
4Gon: Okay, great. How do you think the airFiber will stand up against SAF Tehnika free mile on the marketplace?
Ben Moore: I think, again, with the airFiber product competing with any backhaul providers out there, I think this product puts it in a class of its own, just from a throughput perspective, from a range perspective – the one on top of that is price point. I think, just based on pre-orders and feedback that we’re hearing from the field, I think it will be very, very well. And then, on top of that, we’ll create those markets that I talked about earlier. It will again make it feasible where it wasn’t feasible before, where a provider is saying a third-world country or an emerging market, putting in $15000 or $10000 backhauls – most of the backhauls in many locations can get very expensive and they’re not getting the same throughput that we’re able to deliver with our airFiber product. We’re again enabling these emerging markets and really allowing them to provide a service and a product that they couldn’t before.
4Gon: Okay. So speaking of throughput, does the Ubiquiti airFiber really give 1.4 Gb per second of throughput at maximum range when used by the customer in the field?
Ben Moore: It does not give 1.4 gig throughput at maximum range. No. But that range is again far-above what others are able to do, so that maximum range is basically your max range that you’re going to get out of the products – and obviously, the throughput goes down where you’re at that max range; that will depend. If the customers have questions as far as what kind of throughput that they’re going to get at a specific range is going to vary by region. We’re working on some calculators and we allow them to do that and take into account rain fade and all of those kinds of things. But as the product stands currently at 24 GHz, I think you’re going to stack up well against any competitor’s product in the field, for range and throughput.
4Gon: Excellent. So how do you see this transforming Internet access globally?
Ben Moore: I mean I’m saying again, it goes into those emerging markets, those areas where it wasn’t feasible before. The nice thing with our entire product line, our different platforms, is that customers can now go in and tie into a fiber ring or whatever that throughput is coming, whatever that main link is coming from, whether a fiber or something else. They can tie in with airFiber and then go to an airMAX such as the Ubiquiti PowerBridge M10, the Ubiquiti Rocket M5 GPS MIMO, Point-to-Point Wireless base station or Ubiquiti Bullet 2 HP Point-to-Multipoint, solution, one of our other products, or to UniFi if they’re going to say for example, from a backhaul, from that fiber point to a school, to a university, to a hospital, to an office building, and tie in and use UniFi Pro to deliver that enterprise solution. So we feel like we have between the different platforms (between airMAX, airFiber, UniFi) we have our basis coming to customers, with all the tools necessary to enable these markets. We’re seeing and we’re getting reports of customers getting access most in Mozambique, where they’re running fully on the use of solar or have no electricity but yet they are able to have Internet access due to this UniFi or airMAX products. And then again, airFiber kicks it up a notch – so it’s really not only enabling customers to be able to have access, but we’re also creating businesses, like these wireless Internet service providers and other carriers and things like that that again wasn’t feasible before. They’re now enabled with our different platforms.