Mesh Without Wires

April 21, 2011

Firetide Launches an Aggressive Campaign Targeting WLAN for Education ‎

Filed under: Wireless LAN,WLAN — kseniacoffman @ 12:13 pm

Yesterday we announced an aggressive campaign targeting education wireless LAN (WLAN) market. Firetide’s MIMO and non-MIMO access points (APs) and WLAN controller bundles are now available at significant discounts to North America based educational institutions, where the need for multimedia-capable WLAN is especially urgent.

WLAN controller feature licenses

WLAN controller feature licenses do add up! (Click to enlarge)

Firetide’s Wi-Fi access solutions have long been a staple of our outdoor deployments for government and commercial verticals. We are now bringing the same level of performance and security to indoor WLANs, targeting the education sector where we can meet the need for cost-effective and easy to maintain solutions.

Multimedia-optimized WLAN

Along with performance and security, we also bring our core video expertise to the WLAN market. Having established market leadership in wireless infrastructure mesh for video surveillance in the Americas (See: Firetide Lands at #1 Spot in Video Mesh in the Americas), we now set sight on the education market where multi-media streaming and video conferencing for distance learning are key requirements. Application-based quality of service and traffic shaping algorithms that Firetide implemented for its infrastructure mesh now drive video performance across WLAN.

No-hassle pricing and no feature licensing

With the aim of establishing a foothold in the WLAN market, Firetide implemented a surprisingly radical (given the practices in the space) pricing for its WLAN controller and AP scaling. Management of up to 50 APs are included in the controller price, with no per-AP licensing. Many features that WLAN vendors often charge for are also included, among them intrusion detection and policy management.

I did a quick comparison with the controller pricing of a leading WLAN manufacturer, using an actual price list of said vendor (see illustration above). The result speaks for itself: Firetide’s all inclusive controller capable of managing 50 APs is $5,000 US list, while competitor’s bundle comes up to almost $15,000. Note that this competitor does not have a 50-AP WLAN controller model, but the cost of various features relative to the controller are based on actual license pricing and should be a good approximation.

Up to 3 controllers can be stacked to support up to 150 APs. While we do not do per AP, or per 10-AP licensing, our pricing is such that it’s still competitive even if you have to buy 2 controllers to support 60 APs.

North America education discount: 25% to 50%

The program announced yesterday offers an attractive price point to educational institutions in North America with discount pricing available through June 30, 2011.

Firetide offers a 25% discount on 802.11n MIMO indoor APs bundled with a WLAN controller capable of managing up to 50 access points. Even more aggressive pricing is offered on 802.11a/b/g indoor access points, with 50% discount off list price for the overall bundle. Bundles range from five APs to 20 APs; each bundle includes a WLAN controller.

To take advantage of this limited time offer or to test drive a Firetide WLAN, contact a Firetide authorized partner or email

In the words of Rohit Mehra, Director of Enterprise Communications Infrastructure at IDC:

“It is not surprising to see Firetide enter the enterprise WLAN market with an aggressive push. Performance, scalability, security and ease of use are key requirements in the enterprise WLAN space. Firetide’s track record in infrastructure mesh, with its emphasis on real-time video streaming, will make the company a contender to watch especially in key vertical segments of the WLAN market.”

For more posts on WLAN, see:

By Ksenia Coffman – Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

March 22, 2011

Attending ISC West? Here’s Where to Find Firetide Team at #ISCW11

Attending ISC West? Be sure to connect with the Firetide team. Here’s where to find us:

Register for a free ISC West exhibit pass courtesy of Firetide

Register for a free ISC West exhibit pass courtesy of Firetide

On the Show Floor

Visit our booth #24083 to learn why Firetide wireless infrastructure is faster to deploy, costs less, and offers greater flexibility – and delivers HD/megapixel video equal in quality to wired. Explore the latest trends in wireless infrastructure and see Firetide products in action.

We will be demoing:

Drop by our booth #24083 or schedule a meeting with the Firetide team by emailing us at partners(at)

For a Free Exhibits Pass, click on the ISC West logo above or visit

At the Conference

I will be part of these ISC West conference sessions:

At Vendor Solutions Session

Firetide is presenting in Anixter’s Integrated Physical Security Seminar taking place as part of ISC West’s free Vendor Solutions sessions on April 6. We will discuss prerequisites for a wireless-enabled campus in this case study of a university transitioning to IP-based security.

  • Integrated Physical Security Seminar – April 6, 12:45 pm – 2:45pm, Room 704
    Learn about IP-based applications through a real-world scenario of a university’s transition to an open-architecture IP access control and video surveillance solution. Learn how an IP security system is built from the ground up!

The session is free for all ISC West attendees, but you must reserve your seat during the registration process. (This session is a condensed version of Anixter’s full-day Integrated Physical Security Seminar which I covered on this blog; see: Notes from Anixter Integrated Physical Security Seminar)


Follow @firetide and @kseniacoffman on Twitter for updates from the show. For the ISC West Twitter stream, follow hashtag #ISCW11.

Look forward to seeing you at ISC West 2011!

For my coverage of ISC West 2010, please see:

By Ksenia Coffman – Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

February 24, 2011

Wi-Fi in Train Tunnels? There’s Mesh For That!

Filed under: Wireless backhaul,Wireless LAN,Wireless Mesh — kseniacoffman @ 9:06 am

Wi-Fi needs mesh, too

I covered infrastructure mobility as a unique mesh differentiator several times (see links below the post). Here’s another example of an infrastructure mobility project – to eliminate Wi-Fi blind spots and add bandwidth for Amtrak passengers traveling to and from New York City.

Contracted by Amtrak, Firetide’s integration partner OCLMedia deployed a dedicated wireless network that delivered a high-speed signal to trains traveling through the New York tunnels and when stopped at the New York Penn Station platforms. Previously, when an Acela Express train arrived in the tunnels under the East River and Hudson River, Wi-Fi coverage was interrupted due to a lack of cellular broadband signal.

No fiber? No problem!

OCLMedia installed Firetide mesh nodes in the 12 miles of tunnels and on the trains. Firetide’s infrastructure mobility architecture allows for uninterrupted connection between the fixed and mobile nodes, delivering seamless Wi-Fi for the passengers.

In contrast with previous infrastructure mobility projects we announced (Seoul Subway, Mumbai Metro), there was no fiber in the tunnels (or at least none that was available for the project). The fixed mesh nodes provided an alternative to installing fiber in the tunnels, which would have taken 2-3 years to deploy and the costs would have been five times as much as the wireless mesh solution. OCLMedia’s timeframe was 2-3 months for this project.

How does the network look like?

The mesh nodes (7000 series) are placed both in the tunnels, and in Penn Station itself. The spacing in the tunnels varies, because of of the varying ‘curvature’ of the tunnels. Mobility Controller (on the back end) manages high-speed mobility and roaming between meshes. The access points on the trains are not Firetide’s; they were already in place before the mesh project started. But for a greenfield installations, the access points are likely to be Firetide’s.

Amtrak network diagram: fixed and mobile mesh

Amtrak network diagram: fixed and mobile mesh (click to enlarge)

More to come?

The installation is part of the network that supports AmtrakConnect®, the free Wi-Fi service now installed on Amtrak Acela Express trains and coming later this year to Northeast Regional and other Amtrak trains.

This project shows that mesh technology provides a cost-effective alternative to fiber while infrastructure mobility adds unique capabilities, not possible with any other wireless or wired approach. Wireless mesh essentially extends wire-like connectivity all the way to the train.

See the announcement: Wireless Mesh Provides Wi-Fi Coverage For Passengers Through New York Penn Station

For more posts on infrastructure mobility, see:

By Ksenia Coffman – Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

/Amtrak Wi-Fi logo image via Amtrak

January 18, 2011

Wireless Networks Bridge Past and Present in S. Korea’s River Restoration Project

Han River Firetide Wireless Mesh Node

Firetide wireless mesh node installed at Han River

Even though we are headquartered in the US, our most innovative and creative projects seem to happen in Asia Pacific first, and specifically in Korea. The latest example of this trend is the “4 Rivers” restoration project, which takes advantage of Firetide’s extensive product line – mesh, access points and customer premises equipment. The network is also multi-service, supporting a variety of applications: from public safety and emergency preparedness to free public Wi-Fi.

Billion dollar river restoration project

The South Korean government is undertaking a two billion dollar restoration project of the country’s four major rivers – the Han River, the Yeongsan River, the Nakdong River and the Seomjin River – and surrounding recreational areas. When completed in 2012, the multi-service wireless infrastructure will provide a sensor network for water level, temperature and pollution measurement; a video surveillance network to monitor the dams; and public Wi-Fi service for adjacent riverside parks.  Funded by the government, the project’s main objective is to prevent disasters caused by flooding, while supporting environmental preservation and attracting more visitors to the area.

240 miles of rivers to be covered

The four major rivers are over 240 miles in length combined. To cover this area, more than 200 Firetide MIMO and non-MIMO mesh nodes along with 300 cameras from Sony, Axis Communications and Samsung will be deployed to support the sensor and video surveillance applications. In addition, free public Wi-Fi service will be provided in adjacent parks using Firetide’s 802.11n wireless access points and customer premise equipment (CPEs).

Unique wireless mesh design

This projects illustrates the convergence of voice, video and data services over a wireless network – deployed in areas previously thought impossible or impractical to connect. The diagram below shows a section of the network, deployed in a redundant linear loop topology. Where the bends of the river allow, additional redundant links are built in to connect nodes within the chain. The section depicts about 10 km of a river “as the crow flies.”

4 Rivers Firetide Wireless Mesh

"4 Rivers" wireless mesh design

Backbone for ‘u-Korea’ projects

The wireless mesh technology being used in the ‘4 Rivers’ project has also been deployed in other South Korean wireless projects such mobile video surveillance at Seoul Subway, “children safety zones” in Seoul, and parks,  beaches and other recreational areas is Korea’s largest cities. We can even say that Firetide is the de facto wireless mesh standard for the backbone of South Korea’s ‘u-City’ government-supported programs to bring ubiquitous digital services to residents, tourists, employees and businesses throughout the country.

For more information, read the press release: Firetide’s Wireless Mesh Networks Bridge Past and Present in South Korea’s Four Rivers Billion Dollar Restoration Project

By Ksenia Coffman – Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

October 28, 2010

See Firetide at IT Roadmap Event in San Francisco, Nov 3

Filed under: Wireless,Wireless backhaul,Wireless LAN,Wireless Mesh,WLAN — kseniacoffman @ 1:01 pm

Next week we will be exhibiting at our first enterprise IT proper event in a few years: IT Roadmap in San Francisco, Nov 3. We used to go to Interop in Las Vegas, but due to our focus on physical security, we’ve not been there for quite a while.

WLAN, point-to-point, mesh in IT manager’s arsenal

This time around, we have much more than mesh – an end-to-end enterprise wireless infrastructure to support indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi, inter-building connectivity, LAN extension, video surveillance, access control, mass notification, etc. Our product portfolio has expanded as well: in addition to infrastructure mesh to provide a “fat pipe” to the client devices (Wi-Fi access points, IP cameras, access control readers), we now offer point-to-point wireless Ethernet bridges (both MIMO and non-MIMO), 802.11 access points (indoor and outdoor) and a WLAN controller appliance.

Wireless-enabled campus

Wireless-enabled enterprise: mesh, bridges, WLAN

How can IT manage the bandwidth surge from mobile multimedia applications?

Why do enterprises need this combo approach, rather than bridging Wi-Fi access points to extend the network’s reach? With the growth of multimedia applications (media streaming, videoconferencing, online meetings), coupled with the deluge of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets with Web access and video chatting over Wi-Fi, enterprise IT managers are struggling to increase and manage network capacity to meet soaring demand. The first part of the solution is realizing that the enterprise is no longer solely about the carpeted space but indoor and outdoor combined. Therefore, the technology solution will not come from indoor-oriented WLAN vendors. Consider adding real-time multimedia business applications or video surveillance to the campus network? Wi-Fi access infrastructure will be no match to the load of high-bandwidth, latency-sensitive streams.

See Firetide at IT Roadmap

What required is a combined wireless infrastructure mesh and WLAN solution that can scale and support ever increasing high-performance voice, video and data applications. See it for yourself at IT Roadmap event in San Francisco, November 3, booth 300! We will tweet from the seminar; follow #ITroadmap hash tag on Nov 3.

See also:

Ksenia Coffman – Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

October 19, 2010

ASIS 2010 Recap, Part 2: New Products, Many Meetings

ASIS 2010ASIS show is a great venue to meet users of your technology, and hear first hand about their challenges, projects and feedback. Our booth traffic was equally split between integrators and end users. The integrated video solution (Firetide IVS-100) always draws attention. Our point-to-point MIMO bridges were well received; new 802.11n dual-radio access points were on display as well. Here’s an action shot from the booth:

ASIS 2010 Firetide booth

ASIS 2010 Firetide booth (click to enlarge)

New Firetide products

At ASIS, we announced new functionality on our HotPort 7000 mesh, to deliver a single-platform infrastructure mesh for a variety of fixed and mobile applications. For example, customers can use 900 MHz links for non-line-of-sight communications and line-of-sight (2.4, 4.9 and 5 GHz) MIMO mesh for highest-capacity backhaul, then add mobility later on. In fact, about 95% of Firetide projects involve an infrastructure mobility application, if not today, then in the near future.

  • Transportation networks for real-time video, voice and data: Firetide Mobility Controller is an all-inclusive, high-capacity solution for advanced wireless infrastructure mobility. With the mobility controller functionality, Ethernet-enabled devices such as IP video cameras, Wi-Fi access points, RFID readers, and laptops can maintain network connectivity while traveling at high speeds across multiple Firetide mesh networks. Large-scale projects for Seoul Subway and Mumbai Metro are already being deployed with Firetide mobility technology for mobile, real-time video.
  • Non-line-of-sight mesh for utility and Smart Grid networks: HotPort 7000-900 infrastructure mesh operates in a 900 MHz spectrum to enable high bandwidth applications in challenging environments. It addresses the need for non-line-of-sight applications in Firetide’s core public safety, transportation and industrial markets as well as utilities. Municipal and private utilities have communications and physical security requirements that are often challenging to address. Interconnecting multiple sites at wire-like speeds is a daunting proposition for many, when fiber or leased lines are too costly or impractical.

“Our business is exclusively with utility customers who face challenging conditions in their projects, including remote facilities, vegetation, obstructions, and limited mounting and power options. Most of our Firetide projects include a combination of 900 MHz links for non-line-of-sight or partially obstructed locations and line-of-sight links at 5 GHz or 4.9 GHz, all the way to MIMO links for high-capacity backhaul at 100 Mbps throughput. With the range of capabilities that Firetide delivers, we can provide a solution that meets our customers’ needs, rather than having to limit network coverage or throughput due to environmental conditions. A single HotPort 7000 platform also simplifies specification, design and deployment.” Ken VandeVeer, sales manager at Sage Designs Inc.

Many meeting

The show was filled with meetings.  We even managed to swing a press breakfast (obviously, not on a scale of the big guys, but nonetheless.)

We met, as we typically do, with IMS Research; it was a pleasure to meet Niall Jenkins who authored the report “The Americas Market for Wireless Infrastructure Used in Video Surveillance – 2010 Edition.” (For more information on the report’s findings, see: Firetide Lands at #1 Spot in Video Mesh in the Americas). I asked Niall if there was interest in the wireless report, i.e. if it was worth their while having produced it. He said it definitely was: there was a lot of uptake on the report. We also discussed the integrator training dilemma – security integrators often expect free training, while wireless manufacturers prefer to charge for it, leaning towards an IT model. Firetide charges for its 3 day certification training, but the attendees receive a 10-node mesh management software license, which retails for roughly what the training investment is. We do offer free online training (1-hr interactive course), so people just wanting an introduction can take that.

In other notable meetings, we had a good chat with an editor of an IT reseller magazine, their first-time visiting the show. The editor shared with us that their reseller channel is moving into the physical security space, and the editorial coverage needs to reflect that.

In general, talk of IT and security channel and project convergence has come up quite a few times at the show. The move to IP was also evidenced by Axis Communications taking one of the top three sponsorship spots, which was typically occupied, I’m told, by an analog camera vendor. Way to go, network video!

Is technology the future of security?

On a final note: I was not going to be negative towards ASIS or the conference, since its great venue for us… But, here goes: those who attended the Awards Luncheon, did you notice the ASIS chairman’s curious comment: “Today, there’s too much technology in security, and not enough attention to the human element.” With the trade show floor filled with all kinds of technology, security guards being replaced with video surveillance cameras, etc, ASIS needs to embrace technology – it’s only a matter of time when security will be all about technology.

For more posts from ASIS in Dallas, see:

By: Ksenia Coffman – Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

October 14, 2010

Wireless Mesh for OSP, Presented at OSP Expo

As luck would have it, ASIS 2010 is happening at the same time as OSP Expo. Firetide’s Mike Intag, RCDD is presenting there on wireless mesh for OSP environments, focusing on mesh applications for outside plant deployments.

The presOSP Expo Wireless Meshentation provides essential information and how-tos:

  • Wireless options and their differentiators in OSP environments
  • Considerations for high-performance wireless networks
  • Mesh applications, design approaches and best practices

The applications covered include:

  • Wireless-enabled campus environments: mesh as backbone for video, Wi-Fi, mass notification, etc.
  • Industrial security: video, access control, threat detection
  • LAN extension for essential business operations in outdoor settings
  • Smart Grid and utility WAN: from non-line-of-sight at 900 MHz to high-capacity backhaul using MIMO technology
  • Wi-Fi hotspots, plus using mesh as leased line replacement to provide internet service to the hotspot
  • Cellular base station interconnect for rapid expansion of coverage areas

To Mesh or Not to Mesh for OSP?

For more posts on mesh network design, see:

By: Ksenia Coffman – Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

September 7, 2010

“Firetide Inside” NETGEAR WLAN Offerings Reviewed In PC Mag

Filed under: Wireless,Wireless LAN,WLAN — kseniacoffman @ 8:24 am

In time for Labor Day, PC Magazine published extensive reviews for the two products that NETGEAR launched as a result of an OEM deal with Firetide. (For background, see “Firetide Announces Strategic Alliance and OEM Agreement with NETGEAR.”) I included “Bottom Line” paragraphs from each review. Read the full reviews by clicking on the links:

Netgear ProSafe 16 AP Wireless Management System WMS5316

NETGEAR ProSafe 16 AP Wireless Management System

NETGEAR ProSafe 16 AP Wireless Management System WMS5316

Rating: Very Good

Bottom Line: There aren’t too many AP-management offerings in the SMB market. The ProSafe 16 is a welcome rarity. And, while it may seem expensive, most of the other devices on the market are more enterprise oriented and more expensive. NETGEAR has created a true SMB wireless management device that doesn’t require the expertise of a dedicated wireless network administrator to set up and run. If you’re running a shop with many NETGEAR APs already in place, or plan to create a network with five to sixteen of them, the NETGEAR ProSafe 16 AP Wireless Management System WMS5316 is well worth the price.

>>Full review at

NETGEAR ProSafe 5AP Wireless Management System (WMS105)

Rating: Very Good

Bottom Line: There’s no question that the NETGEAR ProSafe 5AP Wireless Management System performs with aplomb. But there is one question that must be asked: Does my business need it? Unless you have more than two NETGEAR access points, the WMS105 is overkill. Add a third, fourth or fifth access point, and the centralized management is becomes much more convenient. It’s simple to set up, it’s a good way to keep consistent security settings on all of the access points in a network, and the price won’t break your budget.

>>Full review at

See also:

/Image via

August 4, 2010

Mesh Provider Jumps into 802.11n Wireless LAN Fray

Filed under: Technology,Wireless LAN,WLAN — kseniacoffman @ 9:05 am

Firetide expands product line up with 802.11n wireless LAN

Not to be left behind in the rapidly growing 802.11n Wi-Fi access market, last month we announced a new WLAN family, including both 802.11n access points and an enterprise-grade wireless LAN controller. The new Firetide products – Firetide WLAN controller and indoor and outdoor dual-radio 802.11n MIMO access points, – bring the high performance and reliability for real-time voice, video and data applications for which the company is known to broadband access space.

802.11n drives Wi-Fi access market momentum

According to a market research firm IDC, the worldwide enterprise-class wireless LAN market suffered relatively small declines in 2009, despite tough economic conditions, and is now poised for a strong rebound in 2010. According to their research published in June of 2010, the WLAN market will gain momentum throughout the year, growing 23% from $1.7 billion in 2009 to a robust $2.1 billion in 2010. “More and more customers are demanding resilient, intelligent, scalable, and adaptive wireless network infrastructures. They are gearing up for widespread deployments across the board – not just in the carpeted areas of enterprise and in the education market segment, but in widespread applications across major verticals,” says IDC’s Rohit Mehra, director of Enterprise Communications Infrastructure.

Outdoor Wi-Fi Hotspot

Outdoor Wi-Fi is blossoming

Wireless technology has evolved from being a “nice to have” feature to being an essential part of an enterprise network. A rapidly growing number of business processes rely on a wireless connection, while multimedia applications are increasingly used in all organizations, large or small. Another trend is the need for wireless LAN outside the carpeted space. Enterprises want anywhere Wi-Fi coverage for their employees, not only in their offices.

Service providers continue to deploy Wi-Fi hotspots at a growing pace, in an effort to move cellular data users to a more suitable Wi-Fi connection, where available. Municipalities are deploying Wi-Fi for city workers, first responders, as well as in tourist attractions.

The driving force behind these changes is the 802.11n standard. This improved technology allows much higher throughout compared to older standards, driving renewed investment in indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi.

Mesh and access integration

As the economy recovers, we plan to capitalize on the growth in the enterprise and industrial WLAN space, by offering a combination of infrastructure mesh to extend the network’s reach, and access points to offer client access. Unique to Firetide, wireless LAN can be a part of a Firetide mesh network. The combination of mesh and access points enables the customer to easily and cost effectively extend connectivity to areas without network infrastructure.

“Wireless mesh networks enable organizations to own and operate their own flexible private wireless networks, and video is becoming the next “must have” application,” says Gerry Kaufhold, principal analyst with In-Stat, a market research company based in Scottsdale, Arizona. “Firetide is already well known for their mission critical public safety applications. Their new competitively-priced access points, wireless LAN controller, and point-to-point products create an attractive front end that will help extend Firetide’s core infrastructure mesh business into new high-growth markets.”

WLAN that’s simple to buy, deploy and manage

The WLAN solution is simple to deploy with the controller automatically discovering and connecting all supported APs and providing optimized connectivity with automatic RF management and channel selection. The controller also provides centralized configuration of security and wireless settings. Once deployed it automatically load balances the Wi-Fi network to prevent AP overload and continuously monitors for auto channel re-assignment and RF adjustments for best performance. Advanced fairness algorithms derived from Firetide mesh technology provide rate limiting to make sure that no one client or AP hogs bandwidth.

Leverage Information Systems in Southern California recently won an RFP for a MIMO-based wireless mesh video surveillance system for the City of Gardena that requires placing 802.11n MIMO APs in city parks and along three major transportation corridors of the city. Leverage had sealed the deal when they confirmed that Firetide would soon ship their new 802.11n APs. “Firetide’s reputation is golden,” says Mark Sarria, account manager for Leverage Information Systems. “We knew the 802.11n APs would have the same performance and reliability as the wireless infrastructure mesh for the video surveillance network. It’s great to have one Firetide infrastructure platform – for both mesh backbone and client access – that is easy to set up, manage and support.”

For more information:

Image via: Roman Bonnefoy

By: Ksenia Coffman – Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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