Cablevision among the early takers for a wideband-capable WiFi access point optimized for wireless video and voice applications

Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor

February 8, 2010

3 Min Read
BelAir Backhauls Docsis 3.0

WiFi equipment specialist BelAir Networks Inc. has added Docsis 3.0 backhaul to its cable-optimized, strand-mounted access point, a move that enables its MSO customers to support video, voice, and other bandwidth-intensive wireless multimedia applications.

That product, dubbed the BelAir100SN, also includes support for 802.11n, and follows an earlier cable-industry-targeted model with 802.11b/g and Docsis 2.0 provisioning and backhaul capabilities. BelAir vice president of product marketing Dave Park says the new Docsis 3.0-based unit sells for roughly the same price as the Docsis 2.0 model.

D3 Inside

He says the higher throughputs and general overall performance of the 100SN will help MSOs stay ahead of a wireless data demand curve that's being driven not just by laptops, but also by WiFi-capable smartphones and more video-centric devices such as the Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad. (See Comcast on the iPad: It's All Good and iPad's Buddy: Cablevision? ) "Wireless is the new battleground," says Park (perhaps subconsciously recalling Pat Benatar's finest hour).

In addition to offering four to six times the capacity of the earlier units, the new gear also comes equipped with dual 2.4GHz and 5GHz radios to ensure support for future devices equipped to handle the loftier spectrum.

BelAir has also integrated the unit with Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC)-made multi-service edge routers, enabling support for up to 48,000 access points and a total of 480Gbit/s of traffic. With such scale at its fingertips, "an MSO... could put up more capacity than a nationwide cellular network," Park claims.

BelAir's latest entry is cable-optimized in that it takes its power directly from the cable plant and can be hooked into the MSO's Docsis broadband network and provisioning system. According to Park, a 100SN can be mounted to a strand and provisioned for service in about 15 minutes. And several operators are already testing that claim.

"All of our [MSO] customers are receiving this new product," Park says.

Park says BelAir counts nine of the top 10 U.S. MSOs as customers, but the company hasn't released the full list. Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), however, is using BelAir (and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)) gear to support its big WiFi deployment in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Cablevision also has deployed Docsis 3.0 across its footprint, leading off with a 101Mbit/s (downstream) tier. (See Cablevision Plays WiFi Card and Cablevision Debuts 101-Mbit/s Wideband Service.)

Another possible candidate for the new Docsis 3.0-optimized product is Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), which expects to complete its wideband network deployment in early 2010 and is running a WiFi tech trial in about 100 New Jersey commuter rail stations.

A Comcast spokesman confirmed that the trial is still active, but wouldn't say if the MSO had any additional WiFi deployments planned beyond that. (See Comcast to Wrap Wideband, All-Digital Rollout This Year and Comcast Gives WiFi a Try .)

BelAir is demonstrating the 100SN at this week's CableLabs Winter Conference in Denver.

BelAir has also developed a Docsis-friendly dual-mode WiMax 802.116e base station/WiFi wireless access point. BelAir launched that product, the 100SX, in 2009, claiming it can be installed on aerial plant or inside network pedestals and cabinets. The company hasn't announced any deployments for it, but Park says it's shipping and already supporting some cable pilots. (See Doing Double Duty .)

Privately held BelAir won't release revenue figures, but it claims to sell gear to a range of major MSOs, telcos, and cellular service providers, including AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T).

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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