Wireless Equipment Manufacturer Directory: BelAir Networks

By Alex Goldman

June 19, 2008

BelAir's multi-radio mesh networking products are designed to maximize capacity in urban and suburban WISP deployments.

BelAir Networks was founded in 2001 and launched publicly in 2003. Company vice president of product marketing Dave Park says BelAir was founded with the aim of answering one simple question: "How do you deliver high-performance broadband networking—whether it's voice, video, or data—to a mobile, wireless user?"

The company's answer is a network of microcells configured in a multi-radio mesh.

"You need small cells of wireless coverage so that you've got a high number of megabits per square mile… our node has one radio for access, and then multiple radios for the transport connection—and those radios are now independent links," Park says.

BelAir Networks
603 March Road Kanata, Ontario Canada K2K 2M5
Toll Free: (877) BelAir1 (235-2471)
Voice: (613) 254-7070
Fax: (613) 254-7171
BelAir Networks

As a result, he says, you can deploy a large number of nodes without a wired connection. "Take some of our very successful networks like the City of Toronto or the City of Minneapolis—there's a wired connection maybe every square mile, and 40 or even more mesh nodes deployed from that connection," Park says. "That's a huge differentiator."

A flexible architecturePark says the company's quad-radio BelAir200 is ideal for WISP deployments, thanks to the fact that it can function both as a rooftop point-to-multipoint solution and as a street-level mesh product. "Our software architecture allows us to put any radio into any mode," he says. "So you can get a BelAir quad-radio product, and you can have a radio that's operating in point-to-point, a radio that's operating in point-to-multipoint, and a radio that's operating in full mesh—and those are just software operating modes for the equipment."

USI Wireless in Minneapolis, Park says, is a good example. "They've been a very successful wireless ISP in a dense environment," he says. "They've deployed a mix of our quad-radio BelAir200s as a backbone system and then the dual-radio BelAir100s as arms on that system to connect to residential houses for competitive wireless broadband delivery."

And BelAir's products, Park says, are designed to work with just about any CPE. "There are some good companies that [manufacture] that kind of low-end CPE gear," he says. "We provide standards-based interoperability, and we have our own interop lab where we ensure that we have good interoperability—and then we provide a list of those to our customers." Park says that arrangement is a simple matter of company focus. "We have a broad customer base," he says. "We do citywide deployments, we do public safety work… we deploy with the Department of Defense, we deploy in the hospitality industry, so our focus has been on the infrastructure side, and we interoperate with people's client devices… Because we provide a standards-based interface on the on-ramp, they have the flexibility to get the CPE from whoever their preferred CPE vendor is."

Lowering costs per megabitBelAir's key differentiator, Park says, lies in the strengths of the multi-radio mesh. "Rather than trying to take a water tower and flood an area with a capacity that's shared, what we do is we use the multi-radio mesh to deliver capacity along the streets and then fan it out to the end users," he says. "That architecture provides much higher capacity… it results in capacities of hundreds of megabits, half a gigabit per square mile, as opposed to the more traditional approach."

While that requires more nodes than a rooftop deployment might, Park says that in the long run, the cost per megabit and the overall operational cost generally end up being lower—particularly in an urban or suburban location, where he says BelAir's products are most effective. "In that type of environment, the idea of going off one building and spraying service to several square miles just isn't that practical," he says.

Park says wireless ISPs have traditionally not ended up with the most reliable equipment—and that's where BelAir comes in. "We're truly a carrier grade, robust product," he says. "Our units have been deployed from the North Slope of Alaska to the deserts in the Middle East and everywhere in between, including ships that go out on the sea."

That kind of product robustness, Park says, is key for anyone seeking to deliver service with quality and reliability. "BelAir's the type of vendor that has deployed very, very large projects—60 square miles of a city with contiguous coverage, in the case of Minneapolis and some other cities—with very high reliability," he says.

Article courtesy of ISP-Planet.com.

Originally published on .

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