Solectek connects LAN to LAN

Staking the claim that many businesses often make the mistake of using access points as a means of delivering wireless outdoor connectivity between buildings, one company said it has the proper tools to enable seamless connectivity for businesses with additional offices within a short distance.

Solectek Corporation out of San Diego last month introduced AIRLAN as the newest addition to the company’s line of high-speed wireless networking products. According to Solectek, AIRLAN is a LAN-to-LAN bridge that is designed to connect businesses that have two different offices in either two-mile or five-mile radiuses.

Aimed at offering high-speed connections for small- and medium-sized businesses, the AIRLAN wireless bridge is a more cost-effective way to connect offices than the monthly recurring costs of leased circuits from the telephone companies, Solectek said.

According to the company’s vice-president, Dr. Sherin Kamal, the drivers behind the development of the bridge were simple. He said that it revolved around the belief that when companies are trying to set up links outdoors to create WANs, access points are the wrong route to take.

“Access points were originally designed for in-building mobility,” Kamal said. “People can try to get away with that for outdoor networks, but…we feel it is the wrong tool for the job.”

He said that his firm’s bridge works on a plug-and-play premise.

“All you need is two LANs in place,” he said. “It is literally an RJ-45 connector. You just plug it into whatever your current LAN is operating and move out of the way.”

Although he said the installation is simple, Kamal nevertheless maintained that the product is far from basic. On the contrary, Solectek refers to the AIRLAN as an intelligent bridge. Kamal explained that AIRLAN is “smart” in two ways.

“When you point the antennas and power the bridge up, (AIRLAN) will search for the cleanest radio channel to operate in,” he said. “This is what we call our interference-immune feature. The other smart feature is its power. All of the bridges that exist today require you to tune the power up or down depending your distance. Not only does (AIRLAN) search for the cleanest channel, but it adjusts its power so that if it needs to shout because your distance is three miles away, it will adjust its power to a three-mile range. But, if you are putting it 200 feet away, it will pull back its power so that it doesn’t transmit more than it needs to.”

In the case of Automated Controls Services Inc., a heating and air conditioning services company in San Diego, a problem arose between its three offices when the city opted to put in a pond between the three. According to Shawn Meyers, programmer/engineer for Automated, the company’s access was routed from one building to another around the pond. However, on an Ethernet connection, the distance was too long to run a hard cable underground from building to building.

“What we ended up doing was installing a network between all of our controllers using AIRLAN in between two of the buildings to make that connection,” Meyers said. “It was simple to install and it met the needs of what we were doing.”

Meyers added that since cable modem is not available in its office buildings, the company also plans to use AIRLANs between its home office and its office building in order to pick up the cable modem from the home office.

AIRLAN certainly appears to have a place in the market, noted Isaac Ro, an analyst with the Boston-based research firm Aberdeen Group. He said that although he is not directly familiar with AIRLAN, the wireless market is poised for growth, which will spark interest in different wireless offerings.

“If you think about the wireless LAN market for the current year, one of the reasons why it is such a hot area is because the technology works,” Ro said. “It is reliable and it is finally coming down in price. These are the main drivers.”

Kamal agreed and added that customers are looking for high-speed networks but do not want to have to be overnight telecom experts. He said AIRLAN is intended to offer the functionality without the fuss.

AIRLAN kits are available now in two formats – two-mile and five-mile versions – and include two bridges and two antennas. The two-mile version is priced at US$1,900 and the five-mile version is available for US$2,200. Visit for details.