Canon's FSO laser beam uplink

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.

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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

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18 comments
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  • Kid in a Candy Store

    This stuff is cool.
    Hope you are having fun--a good read.
    D T Schmitz
    • Yup, it's cool stuff

      Gigabit laser link at 1000 meters is very cool. It costs a pretty penny though, $14K per side list price. Still, laying 1000 meters of fiber cable is often impossible. Renting a DS3 only gets you 45 mbps and that costs $8K a month.
      georgeou
      • Price is really twice that.

        I knew of people using optical connections years ago. It was a 10mbps solution back in the day when 10mb ethernet (coax not 10baseT) was that latest & greatest. The company in question had two office locations on opposite sides of Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago. Getting rights to run cable and the additional repeaters that would have been required was, if not impossible, prohibitively expensive. So we found them an infrared solution. On instalation it worked perfectly but soon there were complaints of intermitent drop outs. Looking into the issue we found the root cause. Pidgeons. That's right, they'd sit or fly in front of the beam and boom, no more connection. The answer was to install a second, redundent link.

        Any optical connection is going to be suceptable to this kind of problem and the fix will always be the same. A second redundent link. So take any price you work out for these things and double it.
        slopoke
        • Some people actually put scar crows on top

          Make sure you don't have anywhere for birds to rest on top of the thing. At worst you'll have a bird that flies through the link but not actually squat in front of the unit.
          georgeou
  • Laser Links

    Strikes me as another solution looking for a problem. 1000 meters (well less than a mile) only useful in good weather? Sure maybe it would be handy on occasion but not something to use long term for important stuff.
    danm_509
    • Fog is the only enemy

      Fog is the only enemy. Rain and Snow aren't big problems. Some areas never get fog. Some applications need a link across a busy street where getting the right of way for a fiber run is impossible. When they're covering major sporting events, they'll set up temporary links to the TV Van to transmit uncompressed HD Video. Sometimes it's used as a portable unit to bridge links when work needs to be done on the fiber. This is a niche but legitimate market.
      georgeou
      • haha

        really?
        think so??
        richvball44
        • Unless a tree falls in front of it

          Unless a tree or some other object falls in front of it or you put it in a place where birds can sit in front of the unit, fog is the main enemy. Rain and snow degrades the performance but usually doesn't kill it.
          georgeou
          • buzz

            try again
            richvball44
          • If you have something to contribute, go ahead. Otherwise buzz yourself

            nt
            georgeou
    • Hmmmm, too expensive.

      Distance is a problem. I could see this as a primary with an 802.11 as a secondary. Fog and Rain, and of course snow are a catalyst for downtime. Too much money for what you get.
      larry.lawson1
  • Certainly a limited market for such a device

    As you pointed out, optical fiber is a better and cheaper solution when you have right of way. High gain antennas make wifi networking such short distances easy and cheap.

    The fact that there is only a single authorized sales rep in the US is pretty telling. But still, there are probably situations were these things are just the ticket.
    WiredGuy
    • Limited but very cool

      If you have all the fibers in place, having an optical link might be a great way to have redundancy. Having an emergency pair that you move around where needed is also nice.
      georgeou
  • I'm using a set of DT-110's

    I use them to link two schools separated by about 400 meters. I was a bit skeptical at first because I thought that environmental conditions would cause problems. In the year since we installed the system we?ve only had 4 business hours of link downtime due to weather. There were 2 mornings when fog density shut it down. Since I left the old RF link the FSO replaced in place as a failover connection users never knew the FSO was down.

    I looked at leasing fiber or buying it outright but the right-of-way costs and recurring costs for telephone pole access made it unattractive. A wireless solution with the same capacity would cost 2 to 4 times as much as the FSO. Anyone considering an FSO solution should also factor in the cost of a cheap wireless connection to serve as backup. While researching a solution last year I think I read about a unit that integrated a Wi-Fi radio to serve as a failover.
    edu_tech
    • Excellent point, always integrate Wi-Fi backup

      I'm not sure if using an integrated unit is the cost effective way of doing it, but I definitely agree that having a slower/cheaper Wi-Fi bridge as backup is a great idea. It's obviously much slower but at least it's working. Of course if you live somewhere that never has fog, then you probably don't need to worry about it.
      georgeou
  • RE: Canon's FSO laser beam uplink

    I found a great website that has alot of helpful information about the Canobeam. it is www.freespaceoptics1.com. it is very helpful if your planning on making a decision or just more info.

    We use the Canobeam and have been extremely happy with it.
    integrator44
  • Canon's FSO laser beam uplink

    IT IS VERY VERY COOOOOOOOOOL STUFFFF :)
    narrayan7
  • Canon's FSO laser beam uplink

    IT IS VERY VERY VERY COOOOOOOOL STUFF :)
    narrayan7