BandSpeed to Put Switch at the Edge

By Eric Griffith

April 21, 2003

Bandspeed's Gypsy technology for so-called WLAN switches will be one of the few to power switch products that will sit on the working end of the network -- in the access point -- and potentially at a much lower price than Vivato's products.

Today, Austin, TX-based fables-WLAN component company Bandspeed, announced Gypsy, the company's WLAN switch technology. They plan to license it to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for the creation of products that would sit on the edge of the wireless network where access points traditionally go, instead of using a "thin" access point and a switch back in the wiring closet like many on the way from companies like Airespace, Aruba Wireless Networks, Extreme Networks and others.

Blaine Kohl, vice president of marketing at Bandspeed, says companies like those above as potential customers for the Gypsy technology.

Currently, the only vendor with a somewhat similar product -- with the switch technology entirely in the access point -- is Vivato, which will start to sell an $8,995 indoor version and a $13,995 outdoor version of their products in May.

Vivato's products are large panels that contain multiple antennas using a Phased Array to send and receive the wireless signal along a narrow beam or beams. Gypsy technology, by contrast, will come in a box the size of today's standard access points, and use spatial division multiple access (SDMA) technology. So, while it has a 360 degree coverage, it spatially segments that coverage into 3 to 6 sectors using directional antennas. Each segment uses a different channel on the WLAN, in both 2.4 and 5GHz bands -- its platform agnostic to 802.11a, b. or g.

Gypsy-based access points are expected to have a range of up to 3 kilometers with line of sight, and six times the bandwidth on conventional access points. They will be able to "listen and learn" from each other, to minimize interference and detect rogue access points and intruders on the network. They'll also be able to bridge between locations.

Kohl says beta customers are already finding unique ways to work with Gypsy-based products that Bandspeed had not considered, from hooking them to solar panels for power to building a make-shift mesh network when placing multiple units with range of each other.

Deployment could be done in much the same way access points are setup today, using Power over Ethernet back to the wired network.

Price-wise, Kohl estimates an outdoor version of a Gypsy access point would only need to cost around $3000.

Bandspeed is not making end user products and can't say yet who their customers will be, nor when Gypsy products will be available.

"We design and develop, and it's manufactured by others," says Kohl. "We work with OEMs, so...in the end it's their product. This is a physical layer solution, we're transparent -- people should just get better access."

802.11 Planet Conference Just what is a wireless network switch anyway? Join us at the 802.11 Planet Conference & Expo, June 25 - 27, 2003 at the World Trade Center Boston in Boston, MA. One of our sessions will answer that question as vendors go to head-to-head to 'discuss' what they think constitutes a "WLAN switch."



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