InspiAir's Tech: Trouncing Mesh?
June 22, 2006
The company claims its proprietary technology already in trials in several countries is the best solution for outdoor Wi-Fi.
If the growing chorus of conventional wisdom says the best way to deploy wireless across an outdoor urban space is with mesh technology, you can pretty well bet there will be at least a couple of companies saying mesh is all wrong.
Meet Israel-based InspiAir, builder of outdoor networks and denouncer of all things mesh.
Where mesh weaves multiple access points into an interconnected web, InspiAir takes a point-to-point approach. Access points are spread out around an area and each talks directly to a central hub, rather than routing data toward home via a series of short hops.
To its credit, the company, which went commercial in 2003, already has lined up U.S. clients to vouch for its claims.
Recently, the company started rolling out service in the 555-acre Hudson River Park in New York City. Supported by the Hudson River Park Trust, the free wireless access is meant to draw the public to the park, Manhattan's largest open-air development since the completion of Central Park.
InspiAir "is a great system," says Christopher W. Martin, Vice President of Marketing and Public Affairs for the Trust.
"Their solution is good because you can throw up just one antenna and it covers a big radius," he says. Better than mesh? Martin says yes. "We have a two-story building in the park, and we put the antenna up there, and that was all we had to do," he says. "We didnt have to put up nodes around the park to cover all the areas that Wi-Fi was going to."
Beyond mere simplicity, InspiAir CEO Tamir Galili says, his system also can deliver a higher degree of functionality, bringing users not just e-mail and basic browsing but also both voice over IP and video over IP.
That capability could change the Wi-Fi market dramatically. While there already is strong demand for large-scale wireless deployments, the ability to stream voice and video could be the first pitch in a whole new ballgame, Galili says.
"Once the public can get anything, any time, anywhere, there becomes a strong idea that outdoor Wi-Fi is the hottest possible thing," he says. "It is virtually unlimited, because people are going to want those things. It creates an enormous market."
InspiAir already has had global success with that pitch, landing contracts in Australia, Singapore, Japan, Liberia, Kenya, Ghana, Israel, Turkey, Hungary, Finland, France and the U.S.
As the pace of business grows, Galili will follow the trend set by nearly all other Israeli companies by opening a U.S. office in the coming months. "People like to do business locally -- they want to receive local support," he says. That doesn't mean, though, that it is necessarily easier to close a Wi-Fi sale in the United States. In fact, some other nations are far more inviting to a vendor with a credible pitch.
"In the U.S., when you want to make a sale, you have to make a demonstration," Galili says. "In Asia, it is much quicker. If you go to Singapore and they see something, they will immediately buy it and start deployment. They are willing to learn together with you. It's just a matter of business culture."
While he appreciates a quick sale, Galili also has shown patience in bringing his product to market. He says he spent eight years perfecting the algorithm and then worked methodically to win business on a global scale, all before making what he says will be the first big push.
"So far, we havent done any proactive marketing or PR," he says. "We want to first put systems in all six continents so people can see it. Now that we have that, we want to move toward greater exposure."