Aruba Instant On is trying to solve your WiFi woes with a series of access points that are easy to set up, controllable from your mobile device (or their cloud portal), and able to be used indoors and out.
Setting up WiFi Networks for your business can be intimidating at best for beginners. Between mesh networks, switches, routers, servers, access points, and troubleshooting, the whole process of setting up internet access for both your employees and guests can get complicated, fast. We got our hands on one of Aruba’s newest products that claims to solve these issues.
Aruba Instant On AP15
Aruba sent over their AP15, their largest indoor access point that they recommend for businesses with larger data demands, such as, “animation firms or tech startups,” according to their website. It currently retails for $212.52, and is one of three indoor options they offer. There is also an outdoor AP and a “desktop” model designed for smaller environments or single rooms.
The 7”x7”x1.5” unit can be wall or ceiling mounted, has a low profile design, and comes with all the hardware needed to mount in the way you’d like. I wouldn’t recommend just seating it on a surface, however, since there are no silicone feet on either the main body or hardware.
The unit also has 2 LED indicators that can glow orange or green and can be used for diagnostics so you can see whether it’s connected to the internet. It boasts 4×4 MIMO antennas inside the unit, and on the back you’ll find the option to use 802.3af PoE or 12Vdc power. It’s important to note that power supply units do not come with this product; you’ll have to order those separately.
As far as specs for WIFI, this unit has a maximum data rate of 2033 Mbps, and supports both 2.4 Ghz 802.11n (Wi-Fi 4) and 5 Ghz 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5 Wave 2). Aruba does not list a range for this unit; likely because wireless range can be hard to measure and is dependent on many outside factors, such as the number of clients and how much bandwidth they use.
So what are the advantages of this product? Firstly, easy network setup, management, and troubleshooting for those people who are less-literate in network management. Secondly, a “smart mesh” technology that allows you to roam seamlessly from one AP to the next without dropping connection quality. Expandability is a third advantage; you can connect as many APs as you’d like to your networks. Finally, a sheer boost in performance over consumer-grade routers and APs; this is enterprise-grade tech, so you should be getting enterprise-level performance and reliability.
Aruba Instant On’s mission is to make WiFi setup easy for business owners; 3 steps, to be precise. Turn on the access points, download the app, and follow their steps to set up both business and guest networks that are secure and easy to use. In theory, it’s as simple as it gets in terms of setup. In reality, well, it was less simple.
Firstly, the full user guides for all products are digital, but they can be a bit hard to locate in the Aruba site if you happen to not use the QR code they provide. After setting up the device per the guide online, it was time for step 2: set up an account.
I was perturbed when the Aruba Instant On app did not allow me to register an account, with either a “normal” or “business” email. After several attempts to do so, with no particular reason listed and no error code to reference, I had to call their 800 number for customer service to get set up. Calling was the only option, as chatting with their customer service online required – you guessed it – an account.
30 minutes, 3 reps, and a lot of military-style spelling later, I had an account set up. I will say this- once I spoke with the right person, I was able to get things done fairly quickly, but Instant On appears to have its own set of engineers and customer service within the Aruba family, so you’ll need to specify which product you are using to get the correct help.
One final note: be sure that the account password you choose is one you can remember, as the site only offers you the option to reset your password if you know your current one. I’d imagine that, should you forget your password, you’ll have to call Customer Service like I did.
After logging in on the app, I was able to search for currently active APs in my area, and add them to my network. From there, I was able to setup different types of networks within the same locations with just a couple of taps on my phone. VPN, Employee networks, Guest networks, all implemented in seconds.
The features of the app are helpful for small and large networks alike; the software works across large installations, including multi-campus sites. You can track the status of each AP (with a diagnostic system that helps differentiate major problems from minor ones), look at how many clients are operating on the network, what types of apps or programs are being used, and how much data is being transferred.
When I first installed the access point, it didn’t jump out at me as particularly impressive; but, then, I was using an enterprise level piece of hardware in a consumer-grade setting. It’s difficult to quantify the max throughput on an AP when you don’t have any clients with enough ability to truly tax the system.
What I can tell you is, in terms of real-world use, the AP15 itself never gave me a single issue; the only problems I encountered were involved in just setting up an account. I gamed, streamed, downloaded, uploaded, and browsed without a single problem. This unit was easy to use, (mostly) seamless to deploy and set up, gave me no issues with network management, and it just plain worked for me. For business owners, particularly those without dedicated IT staff or network specialists, this is invaluable.
Whether you’re looking to upgrade from consumer-grade tech, expand your network, provide guests with WiFi both indoors and out, or just buy something that is easy and reliable to use, the Aruba Instant On lineup isn’t a bad option. After all, you should only really be upgrading your routers when speed and need demand it, and not when you’re sick of the performance from your other tech.