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Wireless Broadband 101

The most recent development in telecommunications is wireless broadband, which provides Internet access from virtually any point within a particular signal range, eliminating the need for a physical connection. While there are nearly an infinite number of wireless technology vendors from which to choose, this article focuses on eight leading companies specializing in wireless broadband and the solutions they offer.


Founded by Tom Hansen in 2001, AirVisual specializes in the areas of security and surveillance, emergency response, transportation management, and public safety. The company offers flexible, scalable solutions by providing wireless development services that include Wi-Fi network integration and design, custom mobile solutions, and data center design and maintenance.

Its IntelliViewer Mobile Command System enables effective coordination between the command center and all mobile devices. This system allows police officers in the field to better protect their communities by providing real-time views and playback from all surveillance equipment, tracking GPS-enabled vehicles and monitoring alarms, securely sending both live and stored images to handheld PDAs and laptop computers, enabling responder personnel to access display maps and floor plans on their mobile services.

To help law enforcement officers manage daily roadway travel, AirVisual offers its RoadViewer technology. Users are able to see live images of local traffic cameras on their wireless devices, allowing them to avoid delays and arrive at their destination without delay. Real-time video images from traffic camera networks can be captured and sent to a cell phone or PDA, in addition to in-vehicle telematic systems and desktops.

With AirVisual’s TransViewer software, critical information can be shared on a peer-to-peer user platform between vehicles and back to remote command centers. Designed specifically for in-vehicle use, this software sends and receives sensor information, audio and video, GIS/GPS, alarms and user updates. Its Content Delivery Platform manages network traffic while reducing costs for partner content distributors.

As executive director of business development, Fred Lardaro touts AirVisual’s wireless technology solutions as reliable and completely scalable. Lardaro said, “AirVisual is delivering wireless command and control that includes location-based, live, and archived CCTV video on demand to the PDAs and MDTs of law enforcement and emergency responders over all wireless networks.”

Within the past several years, a number of municipalities have deployed AirVisual wireless technology, including the Haverhill, MA deployment of IntelliViewer 2.0 Remote Video Surveillance Solution for first responders; the Chicago Police launch of the IntelliViewer 2.0 system for use by first responders; and the Oakland County, MI use of AirVisual’s TransViewer software for its HazMat team.

AirVisual’s integrated products and services result in enhanced public safety by providing real-time access to police personnel both in the command center and in the field. It gives them the ability to assess developing dangerous situations, reducing their risk, and ultimately, protecting lives and property.


Another provider of wireless broadband solutions for government is Alvarion. With 15 years of experience, Alvarion specializes in metro-scale fixed broadband and citywide mobile public safety networks. Its services include Internet connectivity and mobile broadband for data, voice, and video applications. With Alvarion’s ACCESS technology, government agencies can choose from a number of solutions.

BreezeNet B is a wireless point-to-point bridging solution that is a cost-effective alternative to leased lines. Operating in the 5 GHz band, this high-performance system provides Ethernet bridging with speeds of up to 108 Mbps and multi-level data security protection. BreezeNet B can be managed with Alvarion’s user-friendly BreezeCONFIG or with standard SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol).

For agencies seeking enhanced surveillance technology and superior broadband connectivity, BreezeAccess VL offers a reliable, cost-effective solution. Wireless cameras transmitting heavy bandwidth provide optimal security, while NLOS (non-line of sight) capabilities ensure seamless connectivity in environments dense in buildings or foliage.

The BreezeAccess 4900 solution offers optimum flexibility and superior technology. Capable of both point-to-point and point-to-multipoint configurations, it can be integrated with any number of Alvarion’s fixed and mobile solutions. BreezeAccess 4900 supports 5 and 10 MHz channel options, allowing for a minimum of interference and flexible network planning. In 2003, the Pratt, KS Police Department deployed Alvarion’s BreezeACCESS SU-M radio system.

BelAir Networks

Already deployed in hundreds of networks throughout the world, BelAir’s proven technology supports public safety personnel by providing multi-agency interoperable communications. Its advanced wireless mesh technology is used by law enforcement emergency medical personnel to facilitate recovery efforts in both natural and human-made disasters.

The BelAir 100T Wireless Mesh Node offers a cost-effective multi-radio platform readily integrated for multiple configurations of access and backhaul. Primarily used for municipal and public safety deployments, the BelAir 100T provides support for a number of networks that include Wi-Fi, Wi-Max, and 4.9 GHz Public Safety.

In August of 2007, when a large section of the 35W Bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, an emergency operations center (EOC) was activated in the basement of City Hall, about 1 mile from the disaster site. High-performance, high-bandwidth, and low-latency mobile networking capabilities were needed for the immense rescue effort.

With the Wireless Minneapolis network, deployed a year earlier, providing video surveillance, cameras were hooked up to BelAir wireless mesh nodes, which enabled remote monitoring from the EOC to ensure that emergency personnel had ongoing visibility of the bridge site. The high-resolution video with remote pan-tilt-zoom capabilities improved the response time by helping the EOC prioritize its resources throughout the rescue and recovery period.

Breakaway Communications handles public relations and marketing communications for BelAir Networks. Managing Partner Pam Preston points out that BelAir can accommodate any size of police agency or municipality. The example she cites is that of Richmond, CA. In the city of Richmond, a public safety network was established with 70 BelAir Networks nodes for high-performance video transmission with 4.9 GHz access and 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi access.


Founded in 1999 by Amir Makleff, BridgeWave began as a wireless LMDS (Local Multipoint Distribution Service). Although LMDS showed great promise at the time, within a few years, the technology was nearly obsolete. In 2003, Makleff, the president and CEO, redirected the focus of the company to high-capacity point-to-point high MHz. By 2004, the company offered an unlicensed wireless broadband of 60 GHz, and in 2006, it was awarded the license for 80 GHz.

The narrow beamwidth of 60 GHz and 80 GHz signals provides a natural defense against signal interception, which offers a higher degree of security than utilizing fiber optic cables through conduits. According to Makleff, BridgeWave currently has 80 percent of the market share in 60-80 GHz broadband.

In addition, BridgeWave’s Advanced Security Options provide another layer of security through a 256-bit key length AES (Advanced Encryption Standard). The strongest data encryption available, AES meets “Top Secret” security standards and eliminates the need for costly, less efficient external box solutions.

BridgeWave works with partner companies such as Sony and Firetide to design a workable solution specific to each agency. Police administrators generally begin the upgrade process through local systems integrators who analyze their needs and refer them to the appropriate vendors.


One leader in wireless mesh and access networks is Firetide, whose corporate headquarters are located in Los Gatos, CA. Its HotPort mesh nodes and HotPort access points provide a seamless wireless infrastructure for municipal and public safety agencies.

Firetide’s HotPort High Performance Mesh Network provides maximum versatility to conform to any environment. The MeshBridge feature allows interconnection of multiple networks, even those operating on different frequencies and applications.

The MultiMesh application can cost effectively accommodate both single- and multiple-administrator management of the networks. With HotZones and HotRegions mesh technology, agencies can expect consistent connection of multiple HotSpots for Internet access indoors and outdoors, availability of both restricted-access private networks and open-access public networks, real-time video monitoring and surveillance for enhanced public safety and a highly portable network that can easily be moved to another location.

What Ksenia Coffman, marketing manager for Firetide, hears most often from customers is the flexibility and ease of deployment offered by mesh wireless. Firetide also delivers the highest bandwidth for evidence-grade video, reducing the number of radios needed by almost half. Firetide utilizes systems integrators to present a complete solution to each agency, from deployment of new projects to integration into existing systems.

In early 2007, the Dallas Police Department implemented a wireless video surveillance system in an effort to reduce crime in the Central Business District. Dallas-based BearCom was the overall manager of the project and brought in Firetide, Sony, and several other wireless companies as strategic partners. Sony’s Model 550 cameras with pan-tilt-zoom capability were installed at major intersections that cover more than 30 percent of the total downtown area. These cameras connect to Firetide wireless mesh nodes that form a resilient mesh network, resulting in guaranteed camera connectivity.

General Dynamics Wireless

With more than 40 years of experience in public safety and emergency response, General Dynamics Information Technology provides law enforcement with reliable and interoperable wireless communication. The company offers cost-effective, customized IT solutions for government agencies on the federal, state, and local level. Some of the capabilities include data and command center integration, network construction management, performance analysis and program management. It also offers site evaluation and wireless infrastructure modernization.

General Dynamics’ state-of-the-art virtual training system readies police personnel for handling real-life situations in the field. Through live simulation, exercise planning, and computer-based training, officers can prepare themselves for any eventuality. Also included is policy and management training, as well as software and system development.

When contacted for information on possible solutions, a GD Wirelesss customer team, generally consisting of a business developer, program manager, and a lead engineer, meets with the agency. As an independent, turn-key integrator with no allegiance to specific manufacturers, its solutions are designed to meet the specific needs of each customer. Its expertise enables the company to deploy large numbers of sites for all the major wireless common carriers, provide superior radio frequency design services and deliver reliable quality services quickly and cost effectively.

According to Peter Howard, vice president of engineering, General Dynamics stands above the rest because it offers “a unique combination of commercial backhaul and public safety expertise, technical leadership and best practice program management, enabling on-time, on-budget results for projects of any scale or scope.”


In 1989, Qualcomm introduced Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), an unparalleled technology for wireless and data products. Initially developed for commercial use, CDMA allowed more efficient voice and data transmissions between mobile devices and cell sites than comparable technologies. Qualcomm’s latest version is CDMA2000, which exceeds third generation standards for improved peak rate download and upload speeds.

Eventually expanding its technology to the public sector, Qualcomm launched an initiative in 2006 to assist in recovering abducted children. Working with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the AMBER Alert Highway Network, Qualcomm’s satellite-based mobile communications system collaborates with professional truck drivers nationwide to locate missing children.

Qualcomm Government Technologies provides reliable, secure solutions to government agencies by adapting and modifying its commercial products to conform to the specialized needs of law enforcement and public safety. Its easily deployed and user-friendly technologies offer clear voice and data communication and end-to-end encrypted security.

In May of 2008, Qualcomm announced its Cryptographic Extension for BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless). The extension provides enhanced security by expanding the base platform to include NIST certified algorithm implementations. The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s mission is to build trust in information technology (IT) systems by protecting information systems against threats to confidentiality and integrity of information.

In 2007, the St. Lucie County, FL Sheriff’s Office (SLSO) was seeking a solution that would allow two different technologies currently in use to share the same connectivity. Its jail facilities had recently been equipped with The Cross Match MV 100 Pristrak fingerprint identification solution. At the same time, officers had access to in-vehicle laptops with wireless cards working with the AT&T 3G BroadConnect network.

The SLSO found that its solution with the TopGlobal MB8000 MobileBridge router allows a wireless connection with both laptops and fingerprint devices via LAN ports and WLAN signals. This cost-effective solution has helped the SLSO operate more efficiently by optimizing the value of its 3G technology.

Strix Systems

Founded in 2000, Strix offers high-performance wireless mesh network systems that support multi-radio, multi-channel, and multi-RF mesh network technologies. Its Access / One® architecture provides optimum flexibility and scalability for local, state, and federal agencies. Specifically designed to meet the challenges of outdoor environments, the Access / One Outdoor Wireless System (OWS) is protected by 10 U.S. and international patents.

Strix Access / One offers a cost-effective wireless mesh platform that is deployed in mesh sectors of up to 100 nodes from a single Internet backhaul location. Designed for zero configuration, it provides automatic AES encryption and Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 security. According to Kirby Russell, director or business development and marketing, Strix Systems offers a unique set of architectures to suit the needs of each police agency.

In April of 2008, Strix Access / One® wireless systems were deployed for the city of Pittsburg, CA. The public safety video surveillance network allows central headquarters to view events live and deploy the appropriate resources more efficiently. Multiple cameras throughout the network are monitored by officers who can follow the people and vehicles leaving the crime scene. The camera’s pan-tilt-zoom feature allows close-up viewing so that even license plate numbers can be easily read.

Partnering with Odin Systems, which provided system design and engineering and project management and support, Strix was able to deliver the industry’s highest power for multi-band that includes 4.9 GHz, 2.4 GHZ, and 5.8 GHz. Deployment of the new system was funded through public safety and Homeland Security grants and is already a proven success. While events captured live on the video surveillance cameras allow police to follow and apprehend the suspects, the system also can provide evidence to disprove criminal allegations.

Susan Geoghegan graduated summa cum laude from Florida Gulf Coast University with a B.S. in criminal justice. She has previously been published in LAW and ORDER magazine and can be reached at

Published in Law and Order, Jan 2009

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