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Firetide Expands Wireless Offerings To Serve Converged Space

Firetide, a company focused on delivering wireless infrastructure mesh networks, is expanding into wireless LAN and point-to-point products to serve more enterprise wireless needs. The company is introducing four new products, scheduled to ship this quarter, to serve the WLAN and point-to-point markets. WLAN, for wireless local area network, consists of a series of access points that transmit a signal so that devices that pick it up can access the Internet.

Besides offering new access points that operate on the 802.11n standard (priced at $695 and $1,295 for indoor and outdoor use, respectively), Firetide is also offering a WLAN controller that manages up to 50 access points for $4,995. A point-to-point device is used as a bridge to deliver broadband access from, for instance, one building to another on a corporate campus, in lieu of a T1 or fiber optic line. A Firetide Outdoor Wireless Bridge, consisting of two radio devices, will list for $3,995. All products are described as multiple input, multiple antenna devices (MIMO).

Firetide's flagship product will continue to be its wireless infrastructure mesh networks technology. Mesh networks consist of a series of nodes that differ from access points, explained Ksenia Coffman, senior marketing manager for the company. Access points deliver the Web asynchronously, meaning that a Web page or e-mail, for instance, will arrive sooner or later depending on network traffic. The mesh nodes, however, enable real-time video and audio streaming, which is critical for security and public safety applications. Mesh networks enable a commuter rail line to install video cameras on a train car and see live video of what may be happening inside as the image from the camera is picked up by mesh nodes all along the track, Coffman explained. While mesh technology has uses in security and public safety, it also has uses in industrial and enterprise settings, she added, especially as workers use more mobile and wireless devices. According to Coffman,"Mobile and wireless is becoming essential and not just a 'nice to have' for any enterprise."

Firetide is adding WLAN and point-to-point to its mesh solutions in order to serve customers who may need all three technologies. The move will also put Firetide in competition with incumbent WLAN providers such as Aruba Networks, Meru Networks and Cisco Systems, she said. "I think it is a smart move on Firetide's part, as it fills a hole in its existing product portfolio," said Daryl Schoolar, principal analyst on wireless infrastructure for Current Analysis. "It should help the vendor dealing with potential opportunities where single sourcing a vendor is important. At the same time, it will be a challenge for Firetide going against more established WLAN vendors. Firetide's success will require diligent customer targeting, and ability to show product differentiation."

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