Catching The Wi-Fi Wave

"We went from being a local ISP to becoming a larger ISP. Then we went from working for major clients to working with shows and events and different venues. We supply bandwidth to about 75 different hotels and venues in New York City, and we also supply wireless systems to about 40 to 50 venues," said Bob Wolff, director of event services at Transbeam.

In order to create secure wireless networks for its customers, Transbeam uses an appliance developed by Lok Technologythe LokBox. The LokBox combines network management and control services to provision Internet access. The hardware, originally called the AirLok, was recently rebranded as the LokBox, and Simon Lok, founder of Lok Technology, San Jose, Calif., said that he created the product when he learned there was demand for a cheaper, faster way to access the Internet back when solutions could cost as much as $10,000. Lok sells 100 percent through the channel and has two North American distribution partners.

"[If you have an event where] people are coming and going that you don't have control over, we're the perfect product for it. We have a lot of traction in the corporate environment, and places where you don't have things under your thumb. Variability and behavior, that's where we shine," Lok said.

Transbeam uses the LokBox for exactly those types of events.

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"It enables us to do multiple bandwidth [projects], which we couldn't do before," said Avi Nebel, Transbeam's executive vice president. "When it comes to these venues and the stability of the network, you have these open spaces where you have to take a lot of things into consideration ... If you have 300 people walking in open wireless environments, one hacker that's across the street can literally take down the whole network. You can have multiple failover solutions and it won't work."

The LokBox has multiple interfaces for multiple circuits and a tool that can kill a hack from a malicious IP address before it starts eating bandwidth.

"That was something that I jumped on. Plus there were some other tools that I liked. I like the multiple interfaces. I like the stability, and the authentication methods are good," Wolff said.

Lok's product has enabled Transbeam to win some large customers, like Chelsea Piers. Transbeam recently worked on a wireless network for an event held at Pier 60 where Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced a partnership with Nike.

"We have two main areas that Transbeam is involved with right now, and that's special events at our banquet hall, which includes Pier 60, as well as a smaller special events department at Chelsea Piers," said Stuart Sheinbaum, director of communications at Chelsea Piers.

Transbeam also architected the wireless Internet access system for Chelsea Piers' four-block-long yacht marina.

"They provide our marina, which covers all four piers, four city blocks long, with Wi-Fi access for the boats that dock at the various slips around the entire complex. That was a specialized project because some of the boats are fairly tall, and if a tall boat is parked close to the building or close to the antenna, it blocks the signal to a smaller boat that might be behind it. They really worked hard on antenna placement and making sure we had access from different angles at each pier," Sheinbaum said.

Chelsea Piers was under a tight deadline to construct the wireless network between the winter's thaw and the beginning of boating season, and Sheinbaum was impressed that Transbeam was able to pull the project together in time.

"They delivered on everything they promised. They had a really good idea on how to get coverage in all of our spaces where we needed it, with minimal interference with our ongoing operation," he said.