Above: Wi-Fi veteran and wireless consultant Steve Hratko, Airvine.
Multi-award winner Airvine is perhaps our favourite startup right now in the wireless space. The company is pioneering a revolutionary approach to wireless backhaul using unlicensed 60 GHz (V-band) technology called WaveTunnel™ – and we believe they’re going big. Airvine is also a Wi-Fi NOW Partner. Read their latest update & blog here.
By guest blogger & Wi-Fi veteran, Steve Hratko, Airvine.
Update: Airvine’s WaveTunnel now shipping
Airvine’s WaveTunnel technology has begun to ship to a selection of very forward-looking enterprise accounts. WaveTunnel is a completely new approach to in-building broadband backhaul that uses millimetre-wave wireless technology instead of copper cable.
Above: The Airvine WaveTunnel 60 GHz solution for backhaul started shipping this week.
Anytime there is a radically new technology, it can take time for it to get adopted. There is always something comforting in the old approach that has supported you – for better or worse – for many years. You know its strengths and weaknesses, and it seldom surprises you.
But the IT needs of the modern enterprise are dynamic and often require rapid floor space reconfiguration. There is absolutely nothing rapid about pulling wire. It is a slow, expensive, and cumbersome process. With the Airvine approach, the backhaul network can be as agile and flexible as the business it supports. This leads us to the pose the following important question: How important is “flexibility and agility” to your business?
Quick & easy Moves, Adds, and Changes to your backhaul – or ‘MACs’
For example – does your backhaul network really need quick and easy Moves, Adds, and Changes? How often does your enterprise backhaul network need to be reconfigured? Is it once a month or once a year? Do these changes need to happen quickly? How long does it take to get your structured wiring contractor back on site? A general rule is that over the course of 4 to 5 years, you’ll have as many MACs as the number of drops originally installed.
With Airvine technology you can make the changes yourself in an hour or two versus waiting a month or two to get a contractor on-site. The end-result is anywhere from 10 to 100x faster for moves, adds, and changes.
With WaveTunnel™ – this could be a thing of the past.
Fast retrofits for new access technologies
Fast retrofits are often required to support new access technologies like Wi-Fi 6/6E that require Gbps backhaul speeds. Many businesses are closed at night and on weekends so if wire must be pulled, it can be done in off-hours. Other businesses don’t have the luxury of downtime and can’t tolerate disruptions. This list includes hospitals, hotels, factories, airports, transportation hubs, data centers, and the list goes on. Does your business fall into that category?
With Airvine technology you can quickly add backhaul capacity to handle a retrofit for an essential business function. This can be done in a few hours with your own people.
Type of building? It doesn’t matter
Concrete ceilings, sheetrock ceilings, drop ceilings, it just doesn’t matter with WaveTunnel technology. On the other hand, building material matters greatly to a cable contractor. Drop ceilings can make for an easy cable install, whereas concrete or sheetrock can be much more problematic.
Airvine technology uses a high-gain beamforming antenna to punch a 60 GHz signal through most commonly used building materials. In other words: Our backhaul radio blasts through walls.
Excellent solution when leasing space in a building
It’s usually the case that network upgrades in a leased facility must be paid for by the tenant. This becomes a large sunk cost as you can’t take that cable with you when you move.
With Airvine technology, you can easily take the backhaul network with you when you change locations.
Adding new access networks to support IOT or Augmented Reality
If either of these are in your future that could spell trouble if you are locked into structured wiring to support your backhaul needs. How likely are you to need another Wi-Fi access network in the very near future? Private 5G is also just around the corner.
It almost always pays to put OT traffic on a separate network for security reasons. The IT network tends to be more vulnerable to an attack because of all the email traffic. WaveTunnel nodes can support 4 drops per location and if a new location is required it can be quickly added. There is never a need to overbuild.
Time For a Test Drive!
One nice feature of WaveTunnel technology is that it’s easy to try out. No RF skills are required, no contractor is needed, you can start small, and it can be a DIY (do-it-yourself) project.
Starting small is a great option as there is no need to upgrade your entire network to try this technology. Instead, focus on an area with old copper cable that needs an upgrade to support Wi-Fi 6/6E, or a new location that requires Wi-Fi to support an IOT deployment. The initial deployment can consist of as few as two or three nodes to get a feel for the technology:
- See how quick and easy it is to install
- See how easy it is to configure with the smartphone app
- Have one person do the install
- Check out the Gbps data transfer rates
- See how quick and easy it is to make moves, adds, and changes
- Try repurposing the node if copper is later brought to that location
- And you can take it with you when you move. A very nice feature if you are leasing space.
This trial might be so quick and easy that you find yourself connecting locations that were previously just too hard to reach, even when you control the right-of-way.
The Airvine Magic
But aren’t there issues with using 60 GHz indoors? Can Airvine really punch radio signals through interior walls? When trialing the technology, you’ll see that it can “punch through” just about any commonly used building material. The key to making this happen is advanced beamforming technology. In the V-band up at 60 GHz, an array with 256 antenna elements can fit into 20 cm2 of circuit board space and deliver up to 30 dBi of antenna gain (equivalent to 1000x amplification).
WaveTunnel technology isn’t just a high-performance beamforming array, it is also an intelligent switch running sophisticated software that allows traffic to be relayed through an intermediate node or add/dropped locally. The system can also be configured to operate in a dual counter-rotating wireless ring for enhanced survivability.
The next generation of in-building wireless backhaul is here and it’s time to get on the WaveTunnel train. For more information, please visit us at www.airvine.com And if you’re interested in taking the WaveTunnel for a test drive then write me – Steve Hratko – at [email protected].