Firetide is extending its wireless mesh infrastructure products with 802.11n indoor and outdoor access points and a wireless LAN controller. The company is betting that the blending 11n access points with a wireless mesh backbone, covering indoor and outdoor locations, will appeal to a range of industry segments, including service providers.
Also part of the rollout are new point-to-point bridges that use the same underlying MIMO technology found in 802.11n. The bridges don't implement the IEEE specification but act as high-bandwidth, low-cost wireless links between wired or wireless sites.
Firetide's mainstay has been wireless nodes that form a mesh topology, blanketing an area and allowing traffic to hop from one node to another. It's been a popular product for constructing video surveillance networks, for example: Ethernet ports let devices such as video cameras and Wi-Fi access points to plug into the mesh easily. Until now, Firetide has offered 802.11a/b/g access points.
In May 2010, rival Aruba Networks bought a China-based wireless mesh vendor, Azalea Networks. Azalea has deployed 802.11a/b/g mesh products and is expected to unveil 11n gear at some point.
The new products are the HotPoint 5100 indoor and 5200 outdoor access points. Both have two 802.11n radios, able to support up to 128 clients. Each can be configured to appear as 16 virtual access points. They support a range of standard security protocols and specifications.
The Firetide Wireless Controller (FWC) 2050 works with all Firetide access points: switched on, it automatically discovers and connects the access points. It can automatically balance traffic loads on the entire WLAN.
The new outdoor Firetide Wireless Bridge 200 uses the same MIMO radio found in the access points, but is not 802.11n standard. It runs on either the 5GHz band or the dedicated public safety 4.9GHz band. Each node has two radios, but only one radio is active for traffic, the second serving as a failover option or to shift traffic to a different frequency or channel. The product is sold in pairs, configured to link with each other and no other radios.
The 5100 indoor access point is $695; the 5200 outdoor product is $1,295. The new controller, for 50 access points, is $4,995. One pair of matched bridges, with panel antenna, is $3,995.
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