FireTide starts talking about its pilot rollout of a mesh wired replacement, its shipping date, and the cost: In a briefing yesterday, FireTide said that it had successfully rolled out over a dozen pilot locations using its HotPoint mesh routing system, including an airport, a museum, and a park.
FireTide's 802.11b system, which costs $799 (suggested retail price) per node, uses mesh networking algorithms to automatically create an optimum route wirelessly between nodes without customer intervention. Each node has two Ethernet ports, which can support wireless access points from any vendor, or any other Ethernet-enabled equipment.
The company is based in Los Gatos, Calif., and Honolulu, and has worked with firms close to home. The Hotel Los Gatos already had Wi-Fi in its rooms, but not in public areas or meeting rooms. Company vice president Barbara Cardillo said that they were able to have the hotel's public areas up and running in an afternoon with six HotPoints.
The Los Gatos Opera House wanted to extend itself to businesses for meetings, but they lacked interior connectivity. A few HotPoints later, linked to a business DSL in an office in the building, and the Opera House is now open for commerce.
At the Kahalui Airport, where the FAA and USDA perform extensive testing to avoid planes carrying invasive species in and out of Hawaii, Cardillo said the airport faced a particular set of issues: lots of low buildings separated by tarmacs with no connectivity among them. The airport said it would cost $150,000 to connect the buildings with wire, and would shut down various runways during construction. An integrator came in and installed 11 HotPoints for about $20,000 to fully enable the airport's baggage claim, baggage handling, and offices; hardware cost about 25 percent of the total.
FireTide is also working with a company that brings PET scans--a next-generation version of the MRI--in semi-trucks to hospitals around the country. The company found that getting data from the scanner into the hospital required annoying efforts each time because the same parking space wasn't always available, and the only option they'd pursued was stringing Ethernet cable. Now, with a few HotPoints, the semi is linked right into the hospital network. Because HotPoint is just an Ethernet replacement, the hospital and firm can overlay whatever security they need on the link layer.
FireTide also announced its partnership and reseller program. The company will not sell direct, but work through channels, including small resellers and major integrators and co-marketing partnerships.
FireTide's mesh product is differentiated from its competitors in a few ways: it's a single 802.11b radio mesh product that doesn't offer built-in link layer security and has no access point option. On the other hand, it's a single module with no options that has a decently low price point.
Tropos offers a single-box mesh/AP with one or two radios, although two would be optimum. Tropos creates a cloud of service with densely placed radios or islands of service with more distantly connected units. Backhaul is provided through a separate type of box that connects into the mesh at one or more points. Belair follows a similar approach.
Strix offers an enterprise-scale backhaul system with a number of different options for Bluetooth, 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g modules connecting to network consoles. It can offer encryption over wireless mesh nodes, and can also serve up client services through access point options.