A Different Kind of Wireless Bridge, From AOptix

Just as the world of wireless client access has evolved over the last decade, so has the point-to-point bridging space. Though I don’t do a tremendous amount of bridging, I have done a couple of dozen production links using a variety of licensed and unlicensed technologies. And through the last several of years, I’ve absolutely marveled at the advances in point-to-point bridge hardware as pricing in this interesting space have come way down versus what you get for your dollar.

For me, bridging is really fun in that it reminds me a lot of amateur radio- with the rooftop/tower work, the need to select the right band for the application, and the importance of proper installation if you want communications with a far-off station to work right.

Before I get into the real point of the blog (a new bridge product), let’s take a quick detour. At both of this year’s Interop sessions in the US (Vegas and NYC), Kieth Parsons did an awesome presentation on extending the LAN with point to point bridging. If you missed it, you can find Keith’s slides, and almost all of the Interop NYC sessions, here. Don’t feel lonely if you don’t have point to point bridging experience; a recent survey I did of well over 300 WLAN professionals showed than more than half don’t do anything with bridging.

Q

If you want to start learning about bridging, Kieth’s slides will likely kindle an interest and provide value.

Warning: Cool Technology Ahead

Back to why we’re here: the AOptix Intellimax product set, and in particular the MB2000. There are a number of impressive points related to this bridge:

  • 2 Gbps of throughput to 8 km (just about 5 miles) even in the worst weather. There is NO autorating, you always get 2 Gbps
  • Need more than 8 km? Daisy-chain ’em
  • Free-space optics are coupled with RF for dual-tech signalling that AOptix calls Composite Optical RF (COR)
  • When conditions are bad for one technology, the other picks up the slack automatically. AOptix calls this Advanced Wavelength Diversity, or AWD
  • The units are made to mount easily, and align in around 20 minutes, compliments of a feature called PAT (Point, Acquire, Track)
  • Beam-steering allows for up to 6 degrees total of tower/mast twist and flex (+/- 3 degrees)

There’s a lot to digest here, and it’s impressive. The free-space optics side of the MB2000 has a 120 mW license-free (worldwide) transceiver, while the RF side’s 80 mW works in 71-76 and 81-88 GHz spectrum. This means in countries like the US and UK, it’s “lightly licensed” in that you fill out paperwork, pay the fee, and you’re good for 10 years.

I was approached by AOptix’ PR folks wanting me to cover a deployment done in Mexico where the Intellimax supposedly did very well. I’m not a huge fan of case studies unless I can write about something I’ve been involved with first-hand, yet I find the AOptix story to be compelling enough to share here. I wasn’t provided with pricing information, but given that we’re talking “carrier grade” gear, expect it not to be priced like lower-capability bridges.

You can picture this sort of bridge being suitable in 4GE backhaul, military and public safety networks, large campuses, and a range of other applications.

Please have a listen to a quick podcast I put together on the topic as well.

I’d love to hear from any readers on whether they have experience with AOptix, or have found any other bridging solutions (low or high-end) that they like- or hate.

5 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Wireless Bridge, From AOptix

  1. Frank

    Like many others, I’m a big fan of Ubiquiti PtP bridges. We currently have about 26 pair of the PowerBridge M5 rolled out now, and I’m waiting to get my hands on the new PBE-AC-500 model, their new 11ac based model. Faster, and cheaper!

    My biggest challenge when picking out bridges is finding ones that go *short* enough. We basically act as a WISP for greek houses near campus or adjacent to campus buildings. It’s easy to find bridges that go for multiple kilometers, but you get some funny looks from the sales engineers when you tell them that you need a wireless bridge that will work at a distance of 20 meters. (No, not kilometers, meters!) The Ubiquity PowerBridge ones will let you turn down the power enough, but a lot of the ones out there flat out won’t guarantee operations either due to excessive power levels or inability to adjust their timing for such a short run.

    Reply
    1. wirednot Post author

      Hi Frank, thanks for the comment. Our Department of Public Safety uses the Ubiquiti M5 Bullet in the patrol cars for downloading in car video, they work pretty well. We also have a couple of AirFiber links up that do good, but we had abysmal luck with a cheapo re-branded Ubiquiti product called EZ-Bridge. This is a product set with a lot of variety, and both fanboys and detractors, for sure. One thing is certain, you can’t argue with the pricing on Ubiquiti, generally.

      A couple of years ago I got turned onto a low-cost bridging product line called Ligo Wave. It’s real inexpensive, but rock-solid and does well on both the short links that you describe and out to our longest links (still only just over a mile).

      Reply
    1. wirednot Post author

      Thanks, Keith. I’d really like to hear pricing info myself. I know bigwigs like Bridgewave that have long been able to command top dollar for “carrier grade” bridges have gotten beaten up pretty bad as this space has gotten new players and technology in the last few years. I wonder if Aoptix is competitive, or if they will try “old school” pricing on their stuff.

      Reply
  2. Pingback: 10/22/14: The IoT Has Arrived at SU, New Bridge Technology, Correlate Signal Strength to Specific AP | W to the 4th

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