Tag Archives: Cambium Networks

Quick Hits: Xirrus, Ruckus, Cambium, Mojo Networks, Nyansa, CWNP

I don’t typically do aggregation blogs, as I prefer to explore a topic or product first-hand and write it up with my own learned perspective. At the same time, I’ve been full-out busy of late and don’t want to not give these topics at least some minor attention in case you have an interest in any. So many cool things happening in the world of wireless…

Xirrus- New HD AP, With Flavor Crystals! OK, no flavor crystals. That was just to keep you hooked. But Xirrus has announced the new .11ac Wave 2 XA4 access point that does support external antennas (really unique for Xirrus) and claims to replace four traditional APs from the competition. Check it out, and if you’re a Xirrus fan or pundit, please leave a comment at the end of this blog.


Ruckus- What Comes Next? In case you missed it, Ruckus Wireless may be facing an uncertain future. The Big Dog was bought by Brocode not too long ago, and now Broadcom is buying Brocade. And… Broadcom doesn’t want Ruckus or the rest of the Ethernet portfolio from Brocade. Did you get all that? Here’s hoping that our Ruckus brothers and sisters all land on their feet. Ruckus has a loyal following, so many of us are watching this one closely.


Cambium Partners With Disaster Tech Labs to help Refugees- There is a tech side to the unfortunate human drama playing out daily on the Island of Lesvos, as countless refugees flea the horrors of Syria and other garden spots for Europe. Disaster Tech Lab goes  where it’s needed when trouble hits, and the need is strong right now on Lesvos. The organization has teamed up with Cambium Networks to provide a range of services for the refugees and those who are directly assisting them.


Mojo Networks Leads the White Box Movement. Mojo Networks is a WLAN vendor, yes- but they also have some fascinating folks on staff that are involved with the Open Compute Project (OCP) and efforts to evolve “white-box WiFi” into a viable option. If you’ve felt like you’re on the losing end of “vendor lock” you’ll probably find the entire notion fascinating. Here’s an interesting presentation from Mojo on the idea of open access points.


Nyansa Adds Application Analysis to Voyance. I’ve been following Nyansa since before they were public, with early NDA briefs on the very powerful Voyance analytics platform. It’s taking WiFi analytics to really interesting cloud-enabled places, and recently got yet another feature boost by adding application analysis to Voyance’s powerful network key performance indicators.


CWNP Awards 200th CWNE Certification. The best source for wireless training in the world has just hit an incredible milestone, and the honor and privilege are mine.

Now you know! Thoughts? Comments? Let ’em rip. 

A Little Point-to-Point Bridge Saves The Day

Last weekend I was trying to finish up an IP CCTV project at one of my favorite customer sites. Here, an electrician was supposed to run the UTP and I would terminate and test it before I connected cameras. It should have been a straight-forward endeavor, but it got weird. I blame my own lack of attention to detail in telling the electrician EXACTLY where one wire needed to go. Because I didn’t, he put it someplace that was easy for him, but impractical for the application. The camera would somehow have to see around a substantial corner if I mounted it where the wire landed.

Allow me to leverage my Enormous iPad Pro and $700 pencil to make a simple site drawing:

Do you see the problem? There was really no practical way to get the UTP extended to where it needed to be, which would be right about where the outlet is drawn (about 10 meters away). Hmm. I had a good station cable that happened to be in the wrong place, and I had an electrical outlet under an overhang where I needed the camera to go. My wheels started to turn…

Are you starting to smell what’s cooking here? Let’s add a couple of things to that world-class drawing.image

By golly- that just might work.

Being a well-connected Man of Action, I happened to have a couple of 5 GHz Cambium ePMP 1000 in my bag of tricks. Sure, some might say the bridge link I was about to build– spanning all of around 30 feet– borders on overkill for this application. But you do what you gotta do, and I don’t really like wireless cameras. But I do like good point-to-point links for wired cameras.

The Cambiums are an elegant, cost-effective way to do links this short as well as miles longer if things line up right for you.  I updated the firmware on the bridges, gave them the simple config they needed to take their place on my network, and made sure the channel in use wouldn’t conflict with the business WLAN in place.

After a quick trip to Lowes, I was fairly pleased with my solution.

IMG_6751

IMG_6752

That 8″ square electrical box houses the power injectors for both the camera and the bridge, It will probably get painted along with the box the camera is mounted on to better blend in with the white of the overhang, and the owner blessed this unconventional setup as the camera is really important to them.

So how does it work? Though there is still a bit of camera alignment to be done, it’s a pretty good view from the camera.  This particular view is from a remote viewing app, but at the DVR the image is crystal clear and never stutters or drops. After a few days of testing, this link performs as well as a patch cable.

image.png

Like I said… sometimes you do what you have to do.

Cambium Networks’ Quick Deploy Positioner is a Force-Multiplier

PTP_Positioner_300x300a

If you’ve ever installed point-to-point bridges to extend a network, you know that alignment can be the hardest part. The longer the link is, the more difficult alignment gets, and even those of us in the business who have a good knack for alignment can get thrown for a loop on occasion. To compound matters, sometimes wireless bridges get installed in tricky, dangerous places. It’s not uncommon to use bridges for short-duration connectivity needs, like for events or even battlefield operations. I’ve set up my share of wireless bridges, and I’ve that occasional situation where even after a few days, the alignment bolts are starting to strip and we’re no closer to getting a stable link. I have a feeling I’m not alone here.

Cambium Networks has recently introduced what can only be described as a “force multiplier” when it comes to getting their popular point-to-point hardware aligned. The Quick Deploy Positioner is not the only device on the market that promises to help with automatic bridge alignments, but Cambium does feel they have a winner in the Quick Deploy Positioner thanks to a number of differentiators:

  • Usable, optimized links are brought to life in under 5 minutes
  • Non-experts can successfully create high-speed links using the Positioner
  • Power options including PoE, AC, and even solar

I challenged Cambium on the Positioner’s list price (a little north of $18K) and was convinced that the cost very well would be justified in the right circumstances. According to Cambium:

  1. Some of these links are deployed in extremely remote areas where travel would be difficult and time-consuming. Sending an extra person just to align the antenna could cost them a day out of the office every 30 days for every positioner deployed.
  2. For emergency response and disaster recovery there isn’t always room to take along someone else in the vehicle to perform this function.
  3. In some cases (Border Patrol and Dept. of Defense applications, for example) there is danger to the personnel on-site.  So each additional person requires extra security, and adds extra risk to the mission.

The Positioner looks pretty sweet, and I can see it earning it’s keep on the Cambium bridges that it’s compatible with (PTP 650, PTP 700, PTP 450i and PMP 450i).

Read more in the press release above, or at the Positioner’s product page.


 

Related- I had the pleasure of meeting Cambium’s staff in person, at Wireless Field Day 8. See their presentations here.

I was not compensated by Cambium in any way for this blog- I just think the Quick Deploy Positioner happens to be a slick bit of kit, baby. 

Cambium Networks Bridging- Reviewed By Chris Lyttle

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Cambium Networks and hearing what they have going on with Point to Point and Point to Multipoint Wireless bridging. This technology is an absolute game changer for linking your sites and providing services to customers (think Wireless ISP), and in my opinion, very few vendors in this space are as polished as Cambium these days. Of course, Cambium has deep roots in the industry- but you can read more on that in a minute.

At the Cambium session (At Wireless Field Day 8), I was lucky enough to spend time with one of my favorite wireless colleagues, Chris Lyttle. Chris did an excellent review on Cambium’s presentation and offerings, and rather than duplicate his efforts It would be more productive to steer my readers to his write-up, which can be found here. It’s amazing how these products have evolved, and Chris did great with his treatment of Cambium.

Do you do PTP or PMP bridging? Are you a WISP? Have you used Cambium products yet? If so, how have you found them to perform? I’d love to hear from you- and thanks for reading.

Wireless Field Day 8 Takes “Wireless” Up a Notch

If you’re not familiar with the Tech Field Day franchise,  you’re really missing out on a fantastic resource. When the events are live and playing out, you get a nice feel of the pulses of the various spaces covered (Network, Storage, Wireless, and Virtualization).  After the live coverage is done, the session recordings become excellent on-demand resources.

I’ve had the privilege of attending a number of Wireless Field Days (WFDs), and I think the upcoming WFD8 really moves in a nice direction. Each WFD event I’ve been to  has provided a wonderful glimpse into the goings on of the presenting WLAN-related vendors. I’ve got to see and hear first-hand what the following companies have to say on their own offerings, industry trends, and what the future of wireless might look like:

  • 7signal
  • Aerohive
  • AirTight Networks
  • Aruba Networks
  • Avaya
  • Cisco Networks
  • Cloudpath
  • Extreme Networks
  • Fluke Networks
  • Juniper
  • Meraki
  • Meru Networks
  • MetaGeek
  • Motorola
  • WildPackets
  • Xirrus

WFD8 features Aruba Networks as an HP company for the first time, Cambium Networks, Cisco, Cradlepoint, Ruckus Wireless, and Zebra Technologies. I like this lineup a lot, for various reasons.

With Aruba and Cisco, it’s always good to hear from the WLAN industry’s #1 and #2. I’m a Cisco and Meraki customer, so visiting Cisco’s campuses is a bit more personal for me. I’ve long respected and admired Aruba, and I’d like to see how things “feel” now that HP is the mothership.

Cambium Networks is a bit exotic as I think of them as a backhaul company- but they certainly do more with wireless, and it’ll be exciting to hear from a relative newcomer. I did one blog entry about Cambium awhile back.

The Field Day organizers did well in my opinion to land Cradlepoint. Modern day “wireless” is about so much more than Wi-Fi, and Cradlepoint’s 4G edge-routing will take the delegates down a new WFD path that could serve as precedent for future non-mainstream Wi-Fi vendors. I’ve covered Cradlepoint in my blog as well.

With Ruckus, WFD finally lands one of the main WLAN vendors out there that I’ve not met with, though they were at #WFD3.  Ruckus covers a lot of ground, so their presentation is hard to predict, but is guaranteed to be interesting.  I’ve done a fair amount of coverage of Ruckus, both for Network Computing (like this one) and right here in this blog.

Finally, there is Zebra Technologies. I’ve personally never laid hands on a Zebra product, and for those who don’t know, Zebra bought Motorola’s Wi-Fi interests (which I blogged about.) With a fascinating product line of their own, this too should be a very interesting session.

Put a reminder on your calendars- this Wireless Field Day promises to really put a fresh spin on an already excellent event. Woo woo!

WFD-Logo2-400x398

Real-World Wireless Bridging- On The Cheap

Raise your hand if:

  • You’ve ever successfully installed a wireless bridge link
  • You’ve ever had the thrill of dialing in that final alignment and getting data to whiz across that new bridge at full supported rate
  • You’ve ever sweated out the first rain or snow storm for that link, then delighted when no packets were lost
  • Written out a fat PO for a pricey bridge link
  • Suffered through the hassle of doing a licensed link-frequency coordination, paperwork, etc.
  • Found alternative links at better prices and thought “gee, cheaper feels pretty good when I get the same or better data rates”

I see a lot of hands out there. But I also see some of you who wish you could raise your hands. Yes, the life of those of us who do bridge links is a sexy, thrilling high-adrenalin realm of no-holds barred rooftop backhaul adventure, I tellya. 

Here’s the thing about wireless bridge links that I want to talk about here though: these days you can get a lot for your money. The options are many, new technology is widening the market and driving prices down, and this handy option for extending the network across long distances when you don’t have fiber options is compelling.

Example #1:

I once did one of these for around $30K. It is “lightly licensed”, and gave 100 Mbps, full duplex.
FE80U-1

Contrast the Bridgewave FE80 above to the Ubiquiti AirFiber we recently did for around $4,500 for a two-hopper (with masts/mounts/wiring/grounding) that gives a solid 650+ Mbps in each direction.

multihop

Example 2:

Cisco’s venerable 1300 bridge is still out there. It’s an 11g bridge that works in 2.4 GHz (rather, it tries to work in the crowded 2.4 space), and on a good day you might push 20 Mbps over it on a link that’ll run you around $3K installed if you’re lucky. But you also have to feed it low-loss coax. and use a wonky power/data injector.

1300

Or, you could step into this saucy little number, for less money:

PTP5-N-PRO_medlrg

The LigoWave PTP 5-N uses standard PoE, outdoor UTP, works in the 5 GHz band, and can give around a real 180 Mbps for as little as under $1,500 typically installed.

The examples are many. There are a slew of bridging options out there at varying price and throughput tiers. Some are “carrier grade”, some are so inexpensive they are almost disposable. Each has it’s own story, advantages, and little gotchas. But wireless bridges are simply wonderful components, and the last few years have brought amazing new offerings to the market.

Other than Bridgewave, Cisco, LigoWave, and Ubiquiti mentioned above, I also follow these bridge/backhaul manufacturers:

And there are many, many more out there. Again, there are link options for all budgets and bandwidth requirements.

Regardless of which bridge solution you opt for- keep in mind:

– If you don’t know what you’re doing, get trained before installing
– Safety concerns are a whole different ballgame with bridging versus Wi-Fi
– There are a slew of do-it-yourself mast/mounting options, but do enough of these and you
may eventually have to pay a tower-climber
– Wiring, grounding, and lightning protection all need to be done to the manufacturer’s spec
– Well-installed links rarely need servicing, but when they do, it’ll be during the crappiest
weather. Install accordingly.
– Bridges in business networks tend be as critical as switches- secure them
(administratively), monitor them, and trend for changes that may indicate
trouble/saturation
– Never install licensed-frequency hardware without the license
– Stay out of 2.4 GHz- it’s variable to the point of being useless in many areas
– Keep a spare on hand for prod links, keep a spare set on hand for dealing with disasters

 

 

 

 

A New Point-to-Point Bridge, Some Impressive Numbers

Point-to-Point bridges are a fascinating part of wireless networking. As I’ve written about before, both in this blog and for Network Computing Magazine, I have designed and installed a number of links through the years. The rooftop work isn’t my primary gig, but I frequently design, align, troubleshoot, and occasionally install this incredibly enabling technology.

Even if you don’t work on wireless bridge links, it’ easy to appreciate the notion of making network where there is none, and pushing respectable bandwidth through the air thousands of feet, or dozens of miles.

I recently got wind of Cambium Networks, a company that specializes in the bridging side of wireless. Cambium is worth getting to know if you are looking around for bridging alternatives for point-to-point, point-to-multipoint, and other topologies.

Cambium has recently released their latest PTP model, the PTP 650. So what? New bridges get released fairly frequently from lots of companies, right? I found myself hooked by the range claims associated with the PTP 650.

From the release:

 PTP 650 shines in harsh environments: It is able to transmit up to 120 miles (193 kilometers) over water and desert and from ship to shore, and platform to ship. It is the most reliable NLOS (non-line-of-sight) wireless broadband solution on the market for well field automation.

There was quite a more to the PR, and it’s all impressive enough.  The PTP 650 works between 4.9 and 6 GHz, at a variety of channel widths and with different modulation types that can deliver up to 450 Mbps throughput for under $5K. That’s the condensed version. But if you know anything about bridging, anything that claims to go 120 miles wirelessly bares investigation. Lets look at that rate-versus-range thing.

Lot’s of wireless bridge makers provide “link calculators” which help designers know what to expect as they plan new installations. How far can you go with a given hardware set and still get the throughput you’re after? Here’s Cambium’s Link Planner. To cut to it- here’s what Cambium told me when I asked what the 650 could do at different lengths (without external antennas, using the built-ins)-

Example: Line of Sight; 5.8GHz spectrum; integrated 23dBi antenna; 45MHz channel bandwidth
 
Range (miles)
Maximum Aggregate Capacity
10
370 Mbps
25
220 Mbps
50
150 Mbps
100
45 Mbps

To me, this is impressive, as 45 Mbps is still a fairly beefy connection depending on what’s on the other end. At the same time, I can’t imagine trying to align a 100 mile link!

Having never used Cambium products or software, I’m not endorsing the PTP 650 here, but can appreciate what it’s out to solve (even a couple miles can be difficult at alignment time).