Aruba Networks has announced a pair of cheapish fast Wi-Fi access points for small offices, retail outlets and schools.

The second salvo in a low-cost strategy that began last year, the new bargain basement 802.11n AP-93 (with external antennas) and AP-93 (an internal antenna model), cost $399 (approx £275), which Aruba reckons is less than some legacy 802.11g access points.

At this level, micro-businesses sometimes rely on consumer-oriented Wi-Fi access points, which lack the same levels of security and are not designed to support more than a few users.

A full-ledged Wi-Fi system such as Aruba’s sits a level in sophistication above this and support spectrum analysis, indoor wireless mesh, intrusion prevention of the sort essential to retail as well as support for security, add-ons such as Trusted Platform Modules (TPMs), and Power-over-Ethernet.

“We designed the AP-92 and AP-93 for applications at the other end of the scale – offices, clinics, schools, and retail stores with low-density client environments – that require entry-level, single-radio functionality plus enterprise-class security and reliability,” said Aruba’s product management VP, Chris Spain.

The issue of cost is still contentious. Vendors often quote recommended prices which are chopped by the sales channel. This makes direct comparisons difficult.

Undoubtedly, the new access points are relatively low cost for the features on offer but to get this requires integrating them with an Aruba wireless switch, which adds to the cost. Regardless, the comparison needs to be made between a working system, not a set of working access points.

Available at the end of this month, the access points are covered by Aruba’s lifetime warranty, the company said.

Last month, Aruba bought mesh network provider, Azalea Networks.