Lamon shows 'last-mile' laser system

The system does not use any physical link, just a beam of infra-red light, and the head-ends can be installed in about two hours. The problem that has plagued this sort of link -- atmospheric phenomena like fog, rain and snow -- have been largely surpassed by the technology used in this system, according to Lamon's chief operating officer Mario Grossmann.

"We can guarantee 99.9 per cent reliability in all weather," he said.

The laser system emulates a fibre-optic link, and is protocol transparent. This means that it can handle FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface), G703, Ethernet, Fast Ethernet and ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) directly, with no modifications. The equipment operates within a frequency range that is totally unregulated in most countries, and that does not require a licence, according to the company.

The transmissions are extremely difficult to tamper with, as the beam is direct and narrow, no wider than 1.5 metres at the receiving end. Being optical, it is not subject to radio frequency (RF) interference nor can it interfere with radio or microwave channels. This makes the technology particularly suitable for use in heavily RF polluted environments, like airports and city centres, Lamon officials said.

The current Lamon AG product line comprises seven models for distances from 1000 feet to 1.2 miles (2kms), and 10Mbps bandwidth up to 155Mbps bandwidth (STM-1). The next generation will handle up to 622Mbps (STM-4) per beam.

The products are not meant to replace existing fibre optic or coaxial links, but to supplement them, Grossmann said. In many cases, this technology offers significant advantages: Very fast deployment, there are no right-of-way or construction fees and no long-term recurring fees or tariffs for spectrum usage. They are particularly suitable for bypassing physical obstacles such as rivers or for temporary installations for exhibitions, for instance.

The speakers at the presentation declined offering prices, although a spokesman mentioned $US25,000 for a long-range system.

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