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Deploying Point-to-Point Wireless Links: Page 6 of 8

Playing it Safe

Security is always a significant concern with wireless systems, but since most well-designed point-to-point links are highly directional, intercepting signals is difficult. Nonetheless, most vendors include hardware-based encryption features that do not hurt system performance. And because you are concerned about securing a single point-to-point link, you can employ simple shared keys.

Many enterprises struggle to decide whether to contract with a wireless integrator/installer or do it themselves. The main factors to consider in making this decision are the complexity of the link and your risk tolerance. Connecting two buildings separated by a public thoroughfare at 10 Mbps is a lot easier than connecting two sites separated by 20 miles at 100 Mbps. Experienced radio system installers not only have a reliable gut feel for what will work but also understand some of the subtle complexities of RF link engineering, including antenna polarization, Fresnel zones and multipath interference, and they have the tools to measure RF signals, including potential interference. They also have a good understanding of government regulations, including those related to acceptable EIRP (effective isotropic radiated power), a measure of total system gain in specific frequency bands.

In addition, professional installers have experience with antenna and lightning arrestor installation.

In selecting specific products for installation, consider your throughput and reliability requirements and the RF characteristics of available systems. Think about output power, receiver sensitivity, management and security capabilities, mean time between component failure, and cost. Many fixed wireless systems are adapted from WLAN technology, while others are designed specifically for point-to-point applications. The latter generally offer greater reliability to meet the standards imposed on them by service providers, which are major customers. You can spend $10,000 for a system or 10 times that amount, but except for typically modest ongoing maintenance costs for hardware and software, monthly service charges paid to your local telco will be a thing of the past.