The MeshMAX Combo

By Eric Griffith

February 06, 2007

Proxim's new hardware combines Wi-Fi, mesh and WiMax in one.

Proxim Wireless this week released a new product to take on the other mesh providers by incorporating not just Wi-Fi for client access and mesh connections to extend the network, but also WiMax for backhaul. The three-radio unit is called MeshMAX.

"We've seen in a majority of deployments that municipalities and providers have a need for backhaul connectivity," says Geoffrey Smith, head of marketing and product management for Proxim. "It either isn't where they need it, or at too low a data rate." Their solution is to build in the WiMax support for both licensed (3.3 to 3.6 GHz) and unlicensed (5.1 to 5.8 GHz) radio frequencies, whatever the provider may want.

MeshMax will support 2.4 GHz 802.11b/g-based Wi-Fi for client connections, and will use the 5 GHz band for the mesh connection between nodes. Each unit will have a single integrated antenna, but will also sport a connector to attach separate antennas.

"[MeshMAX is] more cost-effective than multiple units, quicker to install, simpler to manage, and can handle quality of service (QoS) and latency more effectively," claims Smith. "By integrating WiMax, you can increase the attach rate of backhaul to mesh to a ratio of 1:1, so you increase the capacity per square mile." Proxim also sells WiMax backhaul equipment under the Tsunami brand.

Of course, mesh means you shouldn't have to have backhaul on each node, and Proxim has dual-radio ORiNOCO-branded mesh boxes without the WiMax that can drop into the network. Smith says, "With MeshMAX, the backhaul attach rate could be 1:1, but could be 1:2 or 1:3. We want to get as much throughput as needed to the end users."

The WiMax radio in MeshMAX will have a software upgrade path to supporting 802.16e, the mobile WiMax standard.

The pizza-box-sized unit has been in trials for a while, and Proxim says it's now available for order. Pricing starts at $999 for the three-radio combo.



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