Ottawa residents can look forward to improved broadband access thanks to a DragonWave wireless solution, the city’s largest network owner says.

Telecom Ottawa

announced Monday that it is deploying DragonWave Inc.’s AirPair Internet radios to extend the reach of its broadband service. The company was formed a year ago as a subsidiary of Hydro Ottawa Holding Inc. Telecom Ottawa has used the utility company’s fibre optic cable to build up a 250 km network connecting much of the Ottawa region. Its customers range from the municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals market (or MUSH), large enterprises, to other carriers.

However, even with access to so much cable, Telecom Ottawa was running into trouble reaching some potential customers. In spots where no cable network existed, would be too expensive to bring in, or when customers were looking for speedy service, the company decided to go with a wireless solution.

Wireless ethernet bridging, a quick and relatively easy solution to extending the reach of the network came with its own set of problems, says Telecom Ottawa executive vice-president Dave Dobbin. He says the company was unhappy with a number of unlicensed radios they’d deployed because of problems with interference from other traffic as well as general poor performance.

“”We had this one radio that come hell or high water would go down at 6:15 in the morning for ten minutes. Every morning. You could set your watch to it,”” he says. “”And no one could figure out why. We still don’t know why it did it.””

Dobbin says his company had heard of DragonWave’s AirPair radios through the Ottawa tech-grapevine and decided to give them a try three months ago. Deploying AirPair solved many of the performance problems the broadband provider was wrestling with.

“”We’ve had none, no problems. We’ve actually decided to standardize on them,”” Dobbin says.

The AirPair solutions are made up of point-to-point broadband radio that delivers full-rate 50-100 Mbps Ethernet IP-based services up to 10 miles without wires.

Many service providers like Telecom Ottawa are running into the problem of broadband demand outside of the fibre optic network, says DragonWave founder and CTO Erik Boch. When the choice is between waiting six to 12 months to provide services, the time it takes to lay down more cable or installing a wireless ethernet bridge in a matter of days the decision is easy, Boch says.

Most of Telecom Ottawa’s clients in the MUSH market have distributed resources. They require the same quality connection no matter where their buildings may be located, Boch says.

“”Just because your kid is in a suburban school in an older neighbourhood, doesn’t mean that they’re willing to get less information value out of their Internet connection than kids in some downtown school,”” he says.

DragonWave has seen a growing number of customers similar to Telecom Ottawa recently, but is also seeing critical mass building in extending broadband access to rural and remote areas under government initiatives. Boch also says that outside of the traditional enterprise and campus interconnects, supporting WiFi hot spots is becoming key markets for wireless networking product vendors.

“”They run into a problem where as their speeds go up and the deployment goes up the difficulty interconnecting those cells also goes up,”” he says. “”Once the first obvious spaces to put those cells are cherry-picked, the cells start to show up in all kinds of odd places that aren’t currently the beneficiaries of existing optical infrastructure.””

AirPair’s design (the radios don’t need server room installation) has allowed the company to take advantage of that market.

Dobbin says it’s no surprise.

“”Our people like them as compared to other radios. These things are seriously cool. The whole thing is a unit that you can just throw up on a pole and Bob’s your uncle,”” he says.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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