Redline Communications Starts Work on WiMAX

By Jeff Goldman

March 24, 2009

Redline entered the market in 2002 with a point-to-point wireless Ethernet bridge. The success of its early product lines has given it the operating capital to start to work in the WiMAX area.

Redline Communications was founded back in 1999. "For the first couple of years, the founders and some engineering support people basically created the DNA for the company around the use of OFDM in the wireless domain," says Kevin Suitor, the company's vice president of marketing and business development. "Beginning in 2001, we started to take that fundamental technology and turn it into a system platform."

Redline's first product, the AN-50 point-to-point wireless Ethernet bridge, was launched in February of 2002. "It served us quite well," Suitor says. "In fact, in our first year, we did $1.8 million in revenue. We grew the company to $23 million per year of annual revenue strictly upon the AN-50 as a technology platform—and that gave us the operating cash to start to work in the WiMAX area."

The AN-100 was then released in 2003, Suitor says, followed by the AN-100U 802.16d platform in 2005. "We followed that up in 2008 with our RedMAX 4C mobile WiMAX platform," he says—with "4C" standing for convergence, capacity, coverage, and cost.

And Suitor says Redline's customer base is extremely diverse. "Our core constituency is the wireless ISP community, and we've built out from that into carriers, Tier 1 and Tier 2 carriers in emerging markets, and also in vertical applications, such as oil and gas, mining—any types of industry that have significant civil engineering costs in order to build out and design a broadband data network," he says.

The product catalog

The best way to look at Redline's product range, Suitor says, is simply to break it down into two key areas: backhaul, which is represented by the company's RedCONNEX family of products, and access, which is covered by the RedMAX product family. "In the United States, we have a 3.65 GHz FCC-approved solution, the RedMAX AN-100U/100UX family, that is authorized for operation in the lower 25 MHz band of the 3.65 spectrum," he says. "We also have a premium access product, our RedACCESS family of products, which serve the 4.9 to 5.8 space."

Looking forward, Suitor says he expects the new RedMAX 4C mobile WiMAX platform to become increasingly attractive to WISPs. "As the urban dweller is starting to move out to more rural areas to have a better lifestyle, they hope to have access to the same communication technologies," he says. "So even though building a mobile broadband solution may not be top of mind currently for the IOCs and the ISPs, if we look to 2010 and beyond it's going to become something they need to do to stay current and to stay relevant in the market."

All of Redline's products, including the new RedMAX 4C products, can be managed through the company's Redline Management Suite. "We're seeing a lot of benefit from small, medium, and large-sized operators worldwide for that kind of capability," he says. "And for the wireless ISP market, we've created an RMS Lite package that takes the cost points down so they can have a professional management package without paying the price that a Tier 1 operator would pay."

Throughout the product line, Suitor says, Redline's key differentiators come down to ease-of-use and reliability. "We often get calls coming into our technical support center from ISPs that installed the product in 2002 or 2003, they've never had a problem with it, and they're going in and changing their network—maybe they're changing their IP addressing scheme or something like that—and they've never touched the product, so they can't remember their passwords to get in," he says. "We get calls like that every week. We're really proud of the fact that, measured over 40,000 systems, the infrastructure products have less than a 0.5 percent failure rate, field proven."

Pricing and service

While Redline will never have the least expensive product on the market, Suitor says, affordable pricing has always been a focus. "Today, you can, on the street, see a link of our AN-80i for $3,000—when we brought out the AN-50, that would be one side of the link," he says. "We've worked hard to try to bring down the cost of the product—instead of being strictly at the high end, to bring ourselves down into the mid- and even into the high low-end market."

Service, Suitor says, is also key. "About 18 months ago, we moved Keith Doucet, our original vice president of marketing and product line management, over to take over customer advocacy," he says. "Keith has responsibility for technical support, for training, for project management, for product verification and validation…he's focused on making sure that our customers are delighted, not just happy."

And looking forward, Suitor says Redline will remain focused on the needs of wireless ISPs. "If we serve the WISP community and we listen and we build a product that they'll buy, everybody else will buy too," he says. "It's a very, very tough market. If we take a misstep and we do something wrong, they let us know instantly. The wireless ISP lists are not known for being nice to people who mess up… so yes, they're a smaller market, but for Redline, they've been a very solid, sustaining customer base—and we appreciate them and we listen to them."

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