We have had some great experiences installing Meru in Australia into large schools, hotels and public buildings. It has several major benefits compared to traditional “Legacy” WLAN suppliers like Cisco, Aruba, Symbol, HP etc who all use the same micro-cell approach.
By contrast to those suppliers, Meru’s single channel approach eliminates the issues of co-channel interference, so APs can run at full power (typically means up to 30% fewer APs than a micro-cell approach). Doing upfront site deployments is a breeze – just need to measure radio coverage and no need to worry about channel planning. We did a 70 AP school deployment in half a day. Filling coverage holes or adding APs just means literally dropping them in – again no worries about channel planning.
The other thing we find great about Meru is they support much higher numbers of wireless clients compared to egacy vendors, which is especially important in high density sites like schools, universities and hospitals. In one school Library, we replaced 7 Cisco APs with just 2 Meru APs due to superior client density and ability to run at full power. In their new Science building, we used 5 APs when competitors were quoting 15-20 (for coverage and large numbers of students).
Meru also outpeforms the others in delivery of wireless voice quality and the single channel means there is no handovers between APs for calls made on the move. Finally, Meru’s approach to airtime fairness means all wireless users (eg b, g and n) all get a fair slice of airtime and the slower users do not drag down overall speed of the wireless network.
So for sites requiring large numbers of users, large coverage areas, high throughput (voice, video and data) and simple management, Meru is a great solution.
We have not had a lot of experience yet with Meru mesh, but it can be used to extend an existing wireless environment to fill coverage holes, where the cost of wired connection to an AP is extremely high or for increased density and coverage in specific areas. It is typically used in outside campus areas, portable classrooms, sports fields etc…
Basically the AP’s function as follows in a Meru Mesh environment
1. An AP defined as a Gateway AP is connected to the physical network and is the root of the mesh cloud
2. An AP defined as a Wireless AP is connected to the Meru controller wirelessly
An advantage of Meru is that each AP can serve clients and be part of the Meru enterprise Mesh. All security policies are assigned to all clients including those connected via the Enterprise Mesh. The Meru mesh supports a maximum of three hops.