The world of metropolitan-area network (MAN) communications creates opportunities for technologies that may not usually get the headlines. One such approach is offered by GigaBeam. This story in Wireless IQ says that One Velocity, a wireless local exchange carrier in Las Vegas, has bought 24 GigaBeam WiFiber links. The story says that One Velocity so far has deployed about 30 wireless WiFiber links and is serving about 30 enterprise and government customers in the area.
The story -- which really is a repositioned press release -- says that the GigaBeam technology is best suited for backhauling WiMax and 4G traffic. Whatever its precise use, such a platform could be a key enabler of convergence services. For years, the lure of transporting large amounts of data without the expense of laying fiber has attracted engineers and investors. The free space optics (FSO) sector has been successful enough to survive, but has had difficulty transmitting efficiently through fog and rain and sending its signals through leafs and around buildings. A good tutorial on FSO is available at Free Space Optics.
At its site, GigaBeam makes it clear that it doesn't believe that it is a FSO technology. This piece, posted at Seminar Topics, says that the main difference between GigaBeam on one hand and FSO vendors Lightpointe and Proxim Wireless on the other is the frequency ranges used. The piece says that the frequencies used by GigaBeam -- 71-76, 81-86 and 92-95 GHz -- are more robust and not prone to environmental problems. It's safest for a non-engineer to say that GigaPoint is at the very least closely related to FSO. A good look at the vendors in the sector, and those related to it, is available at the Wireless Guys site.
There seem to be a significant number of companies in this area. Right now, however, GigaBeam is getting the attention. In addition to the One Velocity announcement, the company is talking aggressively and seems to be gaining some interest from financial folks. It also signed a $350,000 deal through a reseller deal with the Department of Defense.
Exactly how to classify GigaBeam isn't important. The key question is whether the company -- or any others in the loosely defined sector -- has exorcised the ghosts in the high capacity wireless machine well enough to make it more than a niche technology. The history of the high-capacity wireless industry sector, which always seems on the verge of taking off, suggests that it is prudent to wait until the engineers, investors and, finally, customers, cast their votes.