Bridging connectivity gaps
Maturing wireless bridges are poised to challenge costly, slow-to-deploy WANsFollow @infoworld
These bare-bones management features suffice; they wouldn’t hinder our enthusiasm to buy the Canobeam. But they were Spartan. We would have preferred a few HTML screens that would allow us to centralize and secure these functions more easily. HTML screens would be especially welcome if we were managing a larger number of Canobeams. And Canon, after all, is not a company we think of as skimping on frills.
The Canobeam was at the top of the heap for our laser line. LightPointe has a good product with superior management capabilities, but the DT-110’s Auto Tracking feature and wide array of bandwidth inputs, as well as the ease with which it connects to those inputs, do much to raise the product in our eyes.
LightPointe FlightLite 100 and FlightStrata
Founded in 1998, LightPointe is another young player in the wireless-bridging market. Even so, the company has come a long way very quickly with innovative and powerful optical wireless-bridging products.
LightPointe brought two product families to our shoot-out: the FlightLite and the FlightStrata. The FlightLite is a single-beam, fixed-laser system aimed at short-haul outdoor links ranging from 350 meters to 1,000 meters. The unit supports 15Mbps, 100Mbps, and 1.25Gbps network-side connectivity via optical or copper-cable connects. Additionally, the laser ran just fine using the PoE (Power over Ethernet) functionality of one of ANCL’s Netgear switches.
The FlightLite 100 LightPointe brought to the short-haul test was configured with only 100Mbps Ethernet connectivity, but it was light and easy to set up. Its mounting gear is heavy-duty, and it was easy to see that LightPointe paid good attention to the details, including waterproof grommets where cables enter, to keep water out of the unit.
LightPointe also brought to the test a FlightLite G, which is essentially the same unit as the FlightLite 100, except it’s configured with gigabit-capable optical and copper inputs. The only other difference is that the G requires an external power supply whereas the 100 supports itself using the Netgear’s PoE capability.
For our long-haul test, LightPointe broke out its state-of-the-art product: the FlightStrata. This is a multibeam unit with array-tracking capabilities as well as optical-beam-shaping features, both of which mean the FlightStrata can better recover automatically from slight misalignments and atmospheric interference. It also means that if a bird, for example, crosses the path of the beams, it interrupts only one beam at a time, so the two beams provide true uninterrupted service.
Both units used a combination of visual and audio features for setting up initial tracking. The FlightStrata turned out to be slightly more difficult to set up than the FlightLite. Once we got the initial audio tone indicating proximity, the two nodes tracked each other quickly, though they were definitely the slowest of the group.
LightPointe doesn’t provide its own mounting hardware, instead offering customers a choice of third-party mounting hardware depending on the intended environment. Additionally, although the FlightLite and the FlightStrata can be used indoors and outdoors, both systems were definitely designed for outdoor use.