An Affordable FSO Last-Mile Solution

Optical wireless technology supplier Omnilux, Inc. released its new wireless
broadband platform this week, designed to supply Internet service providers
(ISPs) with an alternative to digital subscriber line (DSL) or cable high-speed
services.


Omnilux uses proprietary technology innovations in free-space optics to
deliver bandwidth up to 100 Mbps to a small, rooftop node that in turn delivers
access to computers and other devices inside the building using an Ethernet connection or
the popular Wi-Fi (802.11b) wireless
technology. This combination of technologies enables ISPs to reach customers
without having to gain access to existing DSL or cable networks as a last-mile
connection.

Stephen Walker, Omnilux president and chief operating officer, said this is
the breakthrough that the industry has been waiting for to open competition in
residential broadband services.

“Now thousands of large and small ISPs have an affordable way to upgrade
their customers to broadband without having to beg the FCC for open access
to the existing infrastructure,” Walker said. “Consumers will be the big winners
as Omnilux-based services are rolled out across the country, and increased
competition provides a greater range of more affordable offerings.”

How it works
The Omnilux network combines
proven wireless technologies with intelligent software that enables ISP to
extend the local wired infrastructure and reach users homes or offices. The
first technology link in the free-space optics (FSO) chain uses infrared
light as a vehicle to transmit data wirelessly over distances of up to 400
meters (about one-quarter of a mile).

FSO has been deployed successfully in large-scale commercial applications
using lasers as a light source. By using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in place of lasers
combined with other patent-pending breakthroughs, Omnilux has been able to drive
down the cost of FSO-based transceivers and yet provide ytransport rates up to
100 Mpbsthese are full duplex speeds equal on the upstream and downstream.

Dubbed the Omni-Node, Omnilux’s small device can quickly be deployed at
residential, small-office/home-office (SOHO) and small- and
medium-enterprise (SME) customer locations using software that makes the unit as
easy to install and maintain as a direct-broadcast satellite dish.

Each Omni-Node is capable of communicating simultaneously with up to four
other nodes, which are deployed in a repeating mesh network configuration
controlled by Omnilux’s proprietary Clear-Mesh operating system. With this
configuration, service to all users remains constant, even if an individual link
goes down due to a temporary obstruction. This point-to-point network topology
provides a robust network design capable of supporting home networking,
multicast video, video-on-demand (VOD), voice over Internet
protocol (VoIP), and
data services at speeds not offered by competing technologies.

Once the signal reaches the Omni-Node attached to the home or office, it is
transmitted to individual computers or other networked devices over a wireless
802.11b or cabled Ethernet connection. Wi-Fi equipped devices in the home or
office within approximately 100 meters of the Omni-Node will be able to gain
secure access to the network.

An Omnilux network is capable of delivering up to eight levels of quality of
service (QoS) and can rate-limit both
upstream and downstream traffic. This allows ISPs to deliver metered bandwidth
services more efficiently than shared cable networks. It also guarantees that
customers will get the bandwidth they pay for, regardless of the number of users
on the network at any given time.

Carter Moursund, Omnilux vice president of technology and co-founder, said
free-space optics has unique benefits for service providers.

“By using an unregulated portion of spectrum, known as IR light, our
customers can avoid expensive and time-consuming radio spectrum allocation
procedures,” Moursund said. “And unlike other unregulated spectrum, FSO signals
do not interfere with each other, ensuring ISPs that their service is not
degraded or interrupted.”

In the field
According to Omnilux, there are
over 9,000 ISPs in the U.S. offering Internet access to consumers and
businesses. Few independent ISPs have ownership or easy access to the existing
network infrastructure of phone lines or cable connections for last-mile
delivery of broadband services. The Omnilux technology provides ISPs with an
affordable, comprehensive range of solutions that allows them to deliver
broadband services to their customers, including:


  • Three service levels to meet the differing needs of ISPs, including
    management of the network operations center (NOC), customer service and
    technical support, and even installation of the network depending on the service
    level selected by the ISP.
  • Minimum upfront investments eliminating the costs involved in building out a
    comparable wireline broadband network. After an initial set-up fee averaging
    between $5,000 and $10,000 depending on the coverage area and network
    configuration, the cost of building out the network occurs only after a customer
    orders service.
  • Low cost per deployment, including an average cost of customer premises
    equipment of $250-$450 for residential customers and $1,000-$1,250 for
    commercial customers, and an average field installation time of less than one
    hour. Omnilux’s Site-Guide technology, its line-of-sight (LOS) modeling software
    allows for rapid system deployment without the need for highly skilled
    technicians.

Built-in wireless home networking system using 802.11b technology, enables
ISPs to offer additional value-added and revenue-generating services to their
customers.

Located in Santa Rosa, Calif., Sonic.net serves over 25,000 customers. Dane
Jasper, Sonic.net chief executive officer said the regional ISP is excited about
the amazing speed and low-cost product that Omnilux offers.

“Their free-space optics technology and price point enable us to provide
faster-than-DSL speeds to business and residential customers on an all-optical
network that we can deploy and control, at a price per customer that we can
afford,” Jasper said.

Sonic.net is not alone in its enthusiasm for the FSO last-mile delivery
solution. RedWire Broadband, one of Southern
California’s largest wireless broadband providers focuses on delivering
in-building connectivity to SMEs in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego Counties.
Jim Comeaux, RedWire Broadband chief technology office said the company is very
excited about the Omnilux product.

“It enables us to deploy higher bandwidth to our multi-tenant properties at a
substantial cost savings,” Comeaux said. “This in turn allows us to expand our
IP business services and increase our average revenue per user without
significant upfront investments.”

RedWire Broadband customers can sign up for high-speed Internet access
beginning in the fourth quarter of this year. Additional deployments are
anticipated in early 2003.

More than anything else, Omnilux delivers a cost-effective FSO system that
can help independent ISPs break free from local phone companies and cable
operators because it provides an unfettered link to customers’ homes and
offices.

Reprinted from ISP-Planet.

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