Firetide Goes Long

By Alex Goldman

February 06, 2007

Firetide's latest mesh nodes are able to provide either higher short range bandwidth or dependable (but smaller) long range bandwidth.

Los Gatos, Calif.-based Firetide announced its latest product, the HotPort 6000 series of mesh nodes. The product can operate at 2.4 GHz, 4.9 GHz, and 5 GHz (802.11 a, b, or g). It has two radios which can provide 70 Mbps at normal range or 35 Mbps guaranteed backhaul.

"This mesh isn't just for Wi-Fi," says Mike Downes, Firetide vice president of marketing and communications. "It's for devices too. We're number one in wireless video surveillance. There's an Ethernet port on the box, so you can plug anything into it: a computer, a printer, a camera, or just a Wi-Fi AP."

"For those that do need Wi-Fi access, we do make our own APs, which can operate independently or as part of a mesh."

The company has defined two operating modes for its HotPort 6000. Linear mode uses both radios to ensure 35 Mbps over an unlimited number of hops. Bonded mode combines the capacity of the two radios to get 70 Mbps. "Over multiple hops, we do see degradation in bonded mode," Downes admits.

But when we suggest that linear mode cannot run forever, he disagrees. He explains that the mesh routing table is updated only as nodes are added, so there is no regular polling overhead (there is significant overhead, for example, in the Gnutella network .pdf, where nodes connect and log off frequently).

"We used flow-based routing," explains Downes. "We identify flows, and each flow can span multiple hops. The overhead required to get from one end of the mesh to the other is minimal, and there's not renegotiation."

Additionally, much of the intelligence of the network is offloaded. "We have a controller, announced earlier, that runs on a high speed server," he says. "You can distribute one or more controllers in a network so the nodes don't have to do the work."

"Our product makes mesh more competitive with WiMAX," Downes claims. "There are so many Wi-Fi clients already out there."

Of course, he can also imagine Firetide being deployed to extend a WiMAX deployment. "Our mesh is compatible with licensed WiMAX. It might be best to have a self-forming, self-healing non line of sight mesh providing superior mobility as part of a WiMAX deployment."

The dual radio HotPort 6000 series is available now. Firetide make indoor and outdoor versions of all radios. The indoor version lists at $1,795 and has four Ethernet ports. The outdoor version lists at $2,996 and has three Ethernet ports (and supports Power over Ethernet (PoE)).

"Attach our AP and it fits so well with our outdoor product that it looks like one unit," says Downes.

Article courtesy of  ISP-Planet.

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