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Review: Point-to-Point Systems

Today's point-to-point systems are cost-effetive alternatives to typical leased lines or running fiber. We examined five radios from Alvarion, Motorola and Proxim, testing throughput, latency, VoIP/QoS and configuration tools. Find

Fixed wireless is a viable option that more enterprises should consider when connecting local sites, or for reliable and cost-effective backup. We put out a call for P2P (point to point) wireless systems that operate in the 2.4-GHz, 5.3-GHz or 5.8-GHz range and support network traffic management, including honoring QoS (802.1p) and VLAN tags (802.1Q). To qualify, systems had to operate at full data rates at a distance of at least half a mile, with minimum throughput of 10 Mbps, and provide an Ethernet interface supporting full-duplex, 100-Mbps connectivity. We also wanted SNMP management/ trapping and Layer 2 encryption using Triple DES or AES. Radios had to include support for external antenna connectors.

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Analysis: Fixed Wireless
Even as most connectivity options get faster and cheaper, linking cross-town--or even cross-campus--locations remains a budget buster. Is today's fixed wireless the answer?

In response, Alvarion sent its BreezeNet B100 radio to our Syracuse University Real World Labs®. Motorola sent its PTP 600 radios, formerly known as the Orthogon Spectra 300, which won our Editor's Choice in our 2005 P2P wireless review. Not to be outdone, Proxim Wireless sent us three products: its entry-level Tsunami MP.11, along with two models from the higher-end Tsunami.GX series, the GX 90 and the GX 200.

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The MP.11 is technically a multipoint version of the P2P Tsunami QuickBridge.11. We asked for P2P systems, however the QB.11 comes only with an integrated antenna, and since our test bed required external antenna connectors, we couldn't evaluate the QuickBridge. Proxim sent the MP.11 to demonstrate the functionality of the QB.11, since the MP.11 does include the required external antenna connectors. We didn't test any multipoint features in the MP.11 and the product, when configured as a P2P bridge, is representative of the QB.11.

Airspan Networks, Aperto Networks and Redline Communications declined to participate. Cisco Systems was retooling its fixed wireless product portfolio and couldn't make our deadline. Nortel Networks did not respond.

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