More bravado from Vivato: wireless bridge-router

Wireless switch vendor Vivato Inc. unveiled what it calls a wireless bridge/router that's designed to extend the reach of its beam-shaping switches.

The Vivato Wi-Fi Bridge/Router is designed to make the company's indoor and outdoor wireless switches more flexible. The new device can be plugged into an IEEE 802.11b wireless LAN to fill in coverage gaps, or bridge between two LANs at different sites, or forge a wireless backhaul connection for those local nets.

The recently announced Vivato switches combine the features of a switch and a wireless access point in one yard-wide panel, usually mounted near the top of a ceiling or on a roof. The products use phased-array antennas to create three narrow radio beams, which play over all of the wireless LAN clients in a particular area. Vivato says that one such device can play these beams over much longer distances than rival access points, because of the antenna technology.

The new bridge/router has two 802.11b interface cards, one of which is usually dedicated to communicating with a Vivato switch, the other to providing local wireless connectivity. The product uses a Vivato-written Layer 2 mesh protocol, based on the Wireless Distribution Protocol in the 802.11 specification. Using this protocol, the bridge/routers can coordinate to extend the reach of a wireless connection.

There are also two 10/100M bit/sec Ethernet ports, and Layer 3 routing features, for wireline uplinks. Vivato has added a more powerful radio, at 200 milliwatts, to increase wireless range along with a more sensitive antenna. Four of these, all adjustable, improve signal reception and quality, even as, when extended, they make the box look like a rather flat aluminum beetle lying on its back.

The bridge/router will ship in August, with a price under US$500.

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