Firetide Goes Multi-Radio, Dual-Mode

Adding to the crush of vendors touting "multi-radio" WiFi solutions, Firetide Inc. today said it is releasing a new dual-radio access node for WiFi mesh networks that features two different operating modes: one for long, multi-hop systems and one for high-bandwidth backhaul deployments.

Known as the HotPort 6000 and priced at $1795 (for the indoor version) and $2996 (outdoor), the new nodes will be available March 1, the company says. Today's release marks the first entry of Firetide into the multi-radio mesh equipment market pioneered by BelAir Networks Inc. and by Strix Systems Inc.

Mesh market leader Tropos Networks Inc. , itself a long-time holdout on multiple radio nodes, announced a dual-radio system last August. Today's Firetide announcement means that all of the major vendors in the mesh arena now offer some form of multiple radio system. (See Tropos Raises the Bet.)

In general, adding more radios to mesh nodes increases the capacity and the throughput speed of networks. While vendors like Tropos and Firetide have argued that single-radio nodes are adequate for the basic levels of service sought by many municipalities, it's become increasingly clear that more advanced networks serving city governments, public safety organizations, and businesses will require higher speeds that only multi-radio nodes can guarantee.

What's unique about the new HotPort node, says Firetide vice president of marketing communications Mike Downes, is the ability to switch between "bonded" mode, where the two radios effectively operate as one, thus doubling the bandwidth, and "linear" mode, where they run separately.

"It's really a major refinement for the industry," asserts Downes.

Recommended for point-to-point backhaul links and large-scale, high-bandwidth applications such as video surveillance systems, the bonded mode combines the capacity of the two radios to deliver up to 70 Mbit/s worth of throughput. Describing the bonded mode as "a very fast pipe for short-haul deployments," Downes says that HotPort 6000s in bonded mode will be installed in the countrywide network of the city-state Singapore within the next few months.

The HotPort system in bonded mode, adds Downes, eliminates the need for external backhaul solutions like WiMax, Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)'s Canopy product, or fiber-optic cable.

In linear mode, the radios are "de-coupled" [Ed. note: are you sure we're talking radios here?] so they run like, well, two radios, providing 35 Mbit/s of bandwidth apiece. This array is especially for long-distance, multi-hop systems, says Downes -- like the transportation-system deployments that make up one of Firetide's specialties.

"This plays well into our mobility strategy," Downes explains, "where you've got very long runs for railways and freeways, for instance -- deployments with many, many hops, where you need consistent bandwidth over long distances, with minimal access to backhaul."

"Bonded" and "linear" are essentially software operating modes, highlighting something that is becoming increasingly clear, even as vendors publicly tout their multi-radio systems: Ultimately it's the software, and the protocols -- not the radios -- that determine the overall effectiveness of a mesh deployment.

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

whatupwireless 12/5/2012 | 3:16:06 PM
re: Firetide Goes Multi-Radio, Dual-Mode I had a Netgear ISDN router in 1997 that "bonded" the B-channels. "Major refinement"...you marketing guys crack me up...
RBMartin 12/5/2012 | 3:15:56 PM
re: Firetide Goes Multi-Radio, Dual-Mode I happen to have had the same questions, but, to be frank, my wireless router experience doesn't stretch back a decade. Anyone else? What about Firetide competitors? Is this an innovation?
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