Proxim's Low-Cost Outdoor Wi-Fi

By Eric Griffith

February 19, 2003

The point-to-multipoint Tsunami MP.11 will use souped-up 802.11b to provide connections to businesses and homes at distances up to 10-miles with speeds of 5.4Mbps.

This week Proxim released the latest branch of its Tsunami family of outdoor point-to-point and point-to-multipoint connection devices.

The new Tsunami MP.11 products are point-to-multipoint (MP) specific and target budget conscious installations at campuses and wireless ISPs (WISPs) with lower prices than most of the Tsunami products, although they recently got a major price cut. The MP.11 line includes the MP.11 2411 Base Station ($995 MSRP), which can talk to up to 100 subscriber units, of which there are two models: one for enterprise ($595) with no limits on the antennas it can use and another for residential ($395) that will come with a window antenna.

Ken Haase, director of product marketing and business development for Proxim, calls the MP.11 an "evolutionary update to the ORiNOCO outdoor router products." (Proxim is now using the ORiNOCO brand only for indoor products; Tsunami devices go outside.) The MP.11 is faster at 5.4Mbps compared to the ORiNOCO's 4.5, and is about $700 less.

The MP.11, like the outdoor ORiNOCO products it's based on, uses 802.11b for communication, so Proxim can "leverage 802.11b commodity radios," according to Haase. The products get their range by using Proxim's proprietary Wireless Outdoor Router Protocol (WORP), which they say delivers up to 40% faster performance than other outdoor routers using 802.11. It will support 802.11b and eventually 11a and g.

Haase points out that "with WORP it's not a true Wi-Fi product. The subscriber units need the same protocol as the base station... you can't take a standard access point and hang it out the window and expect a wireless ISP service."

The installation is relatively simple and Proxim hopes that WISPs can save money by avoiding truck rolls to homes. As long as the subscriber unit points toward the base unit and it's within ten miles, it should work. The Residential Subscriber Unit will even have an optional window mounting kit for installation.

In form, the MP.11 subscriber units look exactly like Proxim's recently announced AP-600 Access Point. The MP.11 boards can also be purchased for inclusion in other cases by OEMs .

Each unit can be managed with a Web interface, and subscriber units can be managed from a centralized station at the WISP using Proxim's Wireless Network Manager software. WISPs can adjust the data rate provided to end users, so they can offer different tiers of service, much like a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) provider can today.

Proxim expects the Base Station Unit and Enterprise Subscriber Unit to be available in early March; the Residential Subscriber Unit will follow later that month.

Originally published on .

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