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Wireless MANs

Two Kinds of MANs

A wireless MAN, or WMAN, is a fixed wireless installation that interconnects buildings or locations. There are two basic types of WMANs: back haul and last mile.

Back haul is for enterprise networks, cellular-tower connection and Wi-Fi hotspots. It's an option for enterprises that can't afford to install or lease fiber to connect their facilities over a large campus or city. Back-haul WMANs also make sense when you can't justify a service provider's fiber 10-Mbps connection that requires six T1 leased lines at $50,000 a year. Fixed wireless is about half that price, without a monthly charge.

Although DSL or T1 work for back haul, a private broadband wireless system often provides 10 times faster transmissions. Capital and installation costs are about five times higher, but you get an ROI in just a few months. To interconnect a few sites, you can install one or more wireless PTP (point-to-point) links (see "Cheap and Available,"); for more sites, a private multipoint WMAN usually makes more sense. Alvarion, Proxim and others offer private WMANs.

Wireless back haul has the greatest short-term appeal, but last-mile solutions could establish wireless as an alternative to residential broadband DSL/cable modem. Some wireless ISPs, including TowerStream Corp., compete head-on with broadband, offering quick installation and lower cost, as well as wireless Internet service in areas without access. Last-mile WMANs are handy for temporary networks, too, such as large construction sites or areas where conventional network service is disrupted.

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