Canon's FSO laser beam uplink

Summary:Canon showed off its latest line of FSO (Free Space Optics) CANOBEAM products.  These devices offer 156 to 1250 mbps of actual throughput under good atmospheric conditions and aren't susceptible to RF (Radio Frequency) interference.

Canon showed off its latest line of FSO (Free Space Optics) CANOBEAM products.  These devices offer 156 to 1250 mbps of actual throughput under good atmospheric conditions and aren't susceptible to RF (Radio Frequency) interference.  The downside to FSO devices is that they must have an unobstructed line-of-sight in non-foggy conditions and they're relatively expensive.  802.11 based wireless bridges on the other hand offer 15 to 25 mbps of actual throughput and are susceptible to RF interference.  The plus side of 802.11 based bridges is that they don't necessarily need a clear line of sight and they're cheaper.

For the low-end CANOBEAM model DT-110 (156 mbps), you end up paying about 6 times more money with 6 times more performance compared to a low-end Cisco 1300 802.11g bridge.  A pair of DT-110s is $13K list while a pair of Cisco 1300s is $2000 list price.  Moving up to a pair of DT-130s gets you 1250 mbps for $28K which is a lot more bandwidth for the dollar.  The DT-110 has a maximum range of 500 meters while the DT-130 has a maximum range of 1000 meters.  The mid-range DT-120 for $25K has the same 156 mbps throughput of the DT-110 but it has a 2000 meter range.

All of these FSO solutions sound like a lot of money when fiber optical cable can transmit data at much higher speeds at a lower price.  The problem is that it's not always cheap to run fiber and sometimes it's just impossible.  Sometimes a temporary high-speed link might be needed and that's where FSO solutions shine because they can be deployed quickly and redeployed any time.  For low-throughput connections, cheaper 802.11 bridges fill the gap.

Topics: Cisco, Fiber, Networking, Wi-Fi

About

George Ou, a former ZDNet blogger, is an IT consultant specializing in Servers, Microsoft, Cisco, Switches, Routers, Firewalls, IDS, VPN, Wireless LAN, Security, and IT infrastructure and architecture.

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