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High Toll for Wireless Bridge

Cisco's Aironet 1400 offers great functionality, but for a price.

The 1400 utilizes an integrated antenna/radio combination. In contrast to Cisco's first-generation BR-350 bridge, the Aironet 1400's integrated design provides a greater RF link budget because the radio signal is completely contained within the outdoor unit, eliminating the need for costly high-grade shielded outdoor cabling. The radio unit has two

F-type coaxial connectors, four weather-shielded LED indicators and a BNC jack for measuring RSSI (receive signal strength indicator) power measurements. In addition, the 1400 includes a power-injecting Ethernet switch transceiver, which converts 100-Mbps Ethernet and 48-volt DC power into a signal carried on dual coaxial RG-6U conductors.

The power injector unit is a separate, indoor enclosure that has an integrated Ethernet-to-Ethernet bridge, letting customers deploy the wireless solution up to 600 feet from the wiring closet--300 feet from the wiring closet to the bridge, and another 300 feet from the indoor bridge to the outdoor antenna. The unit also functions as a tranceiver, converting standard Ethernet and power into a signal that travels over dual coax conductors. Although proprietary, dual coax conductors are easier to ground than Category 5 Ethernet, and they're also more moisture- and weather-resistant.

Putting It to the Test

I installed and roughly aligned the first antenna, then mounted the second bridge at a remote site. When I powered the first bridge up, it went into root-bridge mode after 60 seconds. Once the second bridge powered up, it contacted the root bridge and linked instantly. The bridge ships from the factory in this "install" mode, but if you want to configure bridge parameters manually (to adjust transmit power, distance vector or IP address, for instance), you need only plug in an Ethernet cable and the bridge will autonegotiate a link and provide a DHCP address to your client.

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