Wifiber Connection: Beaming Bandwidth At Gigabit Speeds

The Herndon, Va.-based company sells a point-to-point wireless networking solution called Wifiber that connects to the fiber backbone and uses radios and antennae to transmit data at high speeds at a range of one to two miles.

Gigabeam is an early player in the market created by the Federal Communications Commission's October 2003 decision to open the 71-76GHz, 81-86GHz and 92-95GHz frequency bands to commercial use. "Our 'special sauce' is making radios that use that spectrum," said John Krzywicki, senior vice president at Gigabeam, which recently received additional funding of $18.9 million.

The IT industry has an insatiable thirst for bandwidth in local wireless backhaul, said Krzywicki. Gigabeam's Wifiber currently provides throughput of up to 2.7 Gbps, and the company plans to boost this to 12.5 Gbps by October 2006, he said.

Solution providers say Gigabeam's technology is a key component for offering wireless networking at the city level. "The backhaul capability, in terms of performance and range, is a critical component for providing this type of solution," said John Eaton, a principal at Xtech, a San Francisco solution provider.

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Xtech is working with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to deploy Gigabeam's Wifiber to connect videocameras and monitoring equipment at municipal pumping stations. "The key benefit is that the Gigabit bandwidth supports more video feeds at higher resolutions than traditional WAN links," said Eaton.

Gigabeam's Wifiber solution has a list price of $45,000 per link, which consists of antennae and radios needed for a single connection. For orders of 20 or more, the price is $30,000. For a one-time $700 FCC licensing fee, VARs get access to an online database with nationwide geographical information. To purchase a circuit to link two buildings, VARs file the coordinates for the beginning point and end point into the database, which determines approval. If approved, each circuit is $300.