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.
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.