Thanks to the Internet boom, telecom carriers have buried plenty of high-speed fiber. Yet CIOs still have to contend with the bother of tapping into all that capacity. This so-called “first mile” problem?an inability to easily link corporate LANs to fiber networks?is the target of a new technology from Lihue, Hawaii-based Loea.
Loea’s wireless technology uses high-frequency radio waves to transmit data point-to-point at a speed of 1.25Gbps. The technology is based on arrays of low-noise amplifiers developed to let military aircraft see through fog. “The amplifiers receive very subtle signals created by the electromagnetic radiation coming off of objects,” says Lou Slaughter, president and CEO. “Point-to-point applications are an ideal use of that technology.”
At the center of a so-called virtual fiber network are transceivers that resemble satellite TV dishes. The transceivers must have line of sight, but they work through windows, so they can be placed inside buildings. And the system offers 99.999% weather reliability, which translates to five minutes of downtime annually. Laser-based communications, on the other hand, historically have 99.9% weather availability over 250 yards.
During the next few months, Loea plans to crank up the data transmission speed to 10Gbps. Fast transmission rates will enable voice and video over IP as well as streaming HDTV.
In addition to bandwidth hogging applications, virtual fiber promises to make it easy for IT managers to interconnect LANs among buildings. The transceivers can be set up in a day without dealing with telecom companies, PBXs, telecom managers or different communications protocols, he adds. Two transceivers currently cost $65,000, but Slaughter anticipates a price of $20,000 by 2004. At the moment, virtual fiber operates over a high frequency spectrum only available for government use. The Federal Communications Commission is currently engaged in a rule-making process to make the frequency available for the private sector.