Firetide unveils MIMO mesh node, 400Mbps throughput

Each new HotPort 7000 can support up to 1,000 VoIP calls, according to Firetide

Firetide is beta-testing its first wireless mesh node that uses the same technology foundation as802.11n Wi-Fi products.

The new Firetide HotPort 7000 mesh node, available in indoor and outdoor models, has two radios that can be set for 2.4 or 5 GHz or the licensed 4.9 GHz band reserved for public safety. Firetide says each node can deliver up to 400Mbps throughput, compared to 70Mbps for the previous models.

That boost is due to Firetide's use of one of the core parts of the draft IEEE 802.11n specification: multiple input, multiple output (MIMO), a technique that dramatically increases throughput by subdividing a data stream into sub-streams and using a separate antenna for each. Each radio in the 7000 supports three transmit and three receive data streams, a configuration dubbed 3x3.

The node introduces a latency of less than 1 millisecond per hop. The company says even after 20 or more hops, the Firetide mesh still delivers more than 90% of the original bandwidth. In practical terms, each new HotPort 7000 can support up to 1,000 VoIP calls, according to the vendor.

The new product also includes improved interference mitigation, a new built-in spectrum analyzer, a network capacity planning program, and tools such as an antenna aligner to simplify installation and setup.

Firetide of Los Gatos, Calif., focuses mainly on Layer 2-compliant mesh infrastructure. It offers a set of interconnected nodes, each with several Ethernet ports into which can be plugged products such as video surveillance cameras or standard Wi-Fi access points, including Firetide's own.

Traffic from these access devices is encapsulated, with each "flow" being given a "flow header," which enables the entire mesh to track and route each data flow, and apply load balancing and quality of service (QoS) to each flow. In addition to low latency, the Firetide architecture lets intermediate nodes simply pass the data flows along, without having to unpack them, eliminating a source of jitter.

CEO Bo Larsson likens the approach, protected by an array of patent filings, to creating a distributed Ethernet switch that supports routing. The company has an extensive global list of customers, many of them municipalities, which have used the Firetide wireless mesh to create large-scale, multihop networks for streaming video at 30 frames per second from surveillance cameras. Chicago has deployed 120 cameras with Firetide, the first phase of a much larger network.

The indoor HotPort 7100 and outdoor HotPort 7200 will be available in mid-May. Pricing has not been announced yet.

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