Firetide Upgrades Include 4.9GHz

By Eric Griffith

September 27, 2005

The mesh vendor has a new management system to handle thousands of nodes, and is offering new equipment specifically for first responders.

Los Gatos, Calif.-based Firetide this week announced an upgrade for managing its wireless mesh nodes, as well as a move to include 4.9GHz support in products — the frequency reserved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for communications between first responders at emergencies.

The new software application is HotView Pro, an upgrade to the HotView software which is included with all of the company's HotPort hardware. While the standard HotView handles single mesh networks, the Pro version scales up to handle mesh clusters that could include 1,000 nodes. It is specifically targeted at enterprises and service providers using the HotPort equipment, and is sold in a license per every 30 nodes deployed.

The clusters are created using MeshBridge, a connection between multiple mesh networks. The company says it's just like a bridge across any network domain. The Pro software also uses a technology called EthernetDirect to support a secure tunnel connection with wires as needed. All of the meshes formed are managed in a single MultiMesh interface in the Pro software. It all runs on a standard Linux server.

Firetide is joining the list of wireless companies supporting the 4.9GHz frequency set aside in early 2002 for police, fire and emergency medical personnel, as it becomes part of more and more outdoor deployments. Its public safety equipment builds on the existing HotPort product designs. The 3100/PS handles indoor connections, while the 3200/PS (in a weatherproof enclosure) mounts outdoors.

The Firetide products, both hardware and software, will be on display this week at the MuniWireless.com Conference in San Francisco. They will be available at the end of October. Pricing was not announced.

Firetide is not the first mesh product vendor to support 4.9GHz. MeshNetworks started working with the spectrum a year ago, and was later acquired by Motorola to become that company's mesh networking division.

All the Wi-Fi-based mesh network providers have deployments with first responders in place, but many are using standard 802.11 protocols for communications, on the backhaul and with client systems. This week, for example, Sensoria announced a new dual-radio outdoor mesh router called EnRoute500 (also showing at MuniWireless) that targets public safety and transit system use of wireless communication. It sells for $1,695 per unit. However, it doesn't use the 4.9GHz band.

Firetide's 4.9 equipment is already in beta trials in sites like Rio Rancho, New Mexico. That city already has an extensive municipal wireless network that even supports Voice over IP (VoIP). Rio Rancho will also use the HotView Pro software to manage the network.

The city of Kittaning, Pennsylvania is using the 4.9 HotPorts to add communications to an existing Firetide mesh used for video surveillance.



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