Extended Reach: Remote Network Connectivity

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Trends in Technology, July 2010

Broadcast Electronics Big Pipe LT

Broadcast Electronics Big Pipe LT

Another way to establish network connectivity at a remote site is by way of the higher ISM bands -- 2.4, 5.3 and 5.8GHz. One of many possibilities in terms of equipment for that would be the Broadcast Electronics Big Pipe LT, which is basically a set of transceivers that work in said ISM bands. Big Pipe establishes a 45Mb/s (T3) data connection in both directions, therefore opening up lots of capability.

The ISM bands are unlicensed, of course, so keep in mind that you may have to contend with other users for spectrum. Take care in the path design.

4G connections

As time has moved along, many of us have established Internet connections at home based on cable (or even DSL) connections -- and so the connections described thus far may seem kind of slow. In the larger metro areas, there are new companies that are providing connections based on 4G technology that will allow much faster connections to the Internet. Now keep in mind that is not the same as an extension of your LAN. (More about that below.)

One company that has a big presence in New York City is Towerstream, an ISP that provides the actual connection via a point-to-point radio link between one of its sites (such as the Empire State Building) and your office. According to the company website, it can provide anything from T1 speed up to 1.5Gb/s (that should be more than enough, right?). Towerstream started in Providence, RI, and appears to be growing in a westerly fashion.

Another company that is getting quite a bit of buzz is Clearwire. Clearwire is more oriented toward personal or "SOHO" (small office/home office) applications. The modem it provides is obviously a transceiver that needs to be located so it can see the best Clearwire network node. The output side of the modem looks just like a modem that we'd be accustomed to seeing from a cable TV feed. Its interface is Ethernet, it has an on-board DHCP server, and by use of a small Ethernet switch, you can connect multiple hosts to it.

Of course, depending upon the situation, you may find some other way to get a connection to an ISP. Perhaps cable TV is an option at your transmitter site (since many sites are practically in residential neighborhoods) or perhaps you can get DSL easily enough. Whatever the case, after making the connection work, you are left with an easy way to get out to the Internet, but nothing else; you can surf the Internet, and you can download manuals and whatnot -- but you won't be on your HQ network. No access to the company e-mail server, your VoIP phone system, or any number of other servers or hosts that you would be able to reach if you were on a private connection to your LAN.

-- continued on page 3

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