Exalt boosts speed of backhaul radios

For some California-based companies, Canada is just around the corner. No so for wireless backhaul radio maker Exalt Communications.

Amir Zoufonoun, president of the four-year-old company, acknowledges that “we haven’t done a lot of business” with the northern neighbor. But with the release of its EX-r GigE series of microwave radios for the 5Ghz bands and other gear he hopes that will change.

“We expect to [better] penetrate the Canadian market going forward, especially with some of the newer products we’ve been adding to the roster,” he said in an interview.

The company says it tries to be a “one-stop shop” for wireless backhaul in multiple frequency licenced and unlicenced bands.

The new EX-r GigE series offers up to 440 megabit per second throughput, depending on the model, at 99.999 per cent availability over distances of up to 15 miles.

They’re aimed at meeting the need of carriers to increase mobile wireless network speeds and of enterprises that have to deal with bandwidth-hogging applications, Zoufonoun said. While 2G wireless networks were handled 45Mbps of data, 4G network speeds will approach 300Mbps at the edge of the network to deal with services such as video on handsets. At the same time carriers shifting from TDM to Internet protocol want to protect their legacy gear, Zoufonoun said. The EX-r GigE allows that with the inclusion of native TDM.

Meanwhile, Exalt believes enterprises will increasingly want to bring Gigabit Ethernet to the desktop. Those with campuses will either need new fibre to connect buildings to handle that bandwidth or turn to microwave, Zoufonoun argued.

“The sweet spot in this market is two to four hundred megabits [per second]. That’s why this product is being introduced now.”

The EX-r lets customers “get the maximum out of their previous investments, and also future-proof their networks.”

The radio includes two Gigabit Ethernet ports and four TDM ports. Through software, administrators have throughput symmetry control, giving them the ability to remotely regulate the “width” of the flow of data up or down the link.

The EX-r also includes ExaltSynch, which allows multiple radios to be located on the same rooftop or tower to transmit and receive simultaneously. There are two models: the EX-5r GigE and the EX-5r-c GigE. Both are tri-band radios which make 600Mhz of spectrum available with 1Mhz resolution. With the built-in spectrum analyzer an administrator can scan for the quietest spot and “park” the signal at the quietest spot, Zoufonoun said.

The “c” model has N-type female connectors for adding other antennas for extra range. Built-in 128- and 256-bit encryption capabilities can be turned on by purchasing a licence key. While it costs “a couple of thousand dollars,” that’s much less than buying an external solution, Zoufonoun said. The EX-r GigE radios will cost US$15,000 to $25,000 depending on capacity and options. The base model starts with 220Mpbs capacity.

Initially, because the EX-r GigE radios will operate only in the 5Ghz range, they will appeal most to emerging telecoms and enterprises, Zoufonoun said. However, the line will be expanded into more mainstream frequencies, which will interest incumbent carriers.