What is a Wireless Bridge?
A wireless bridge creates a link between two points – these could be buildings, CCTV cameras, telecommunication masts or practically any IP device – with one endpoint taking the role of the ‘master’ and the other becoming the ‘slave’. The ‘master’ typically sets the connection parameters, acting as a controller.
Rather than providing coverage to multiple endpoints or devices in a 30-360 degree radius like an access point, a wireless bridge has a strictly directional connection between points A and B. These bridges can be utilized over short distances (mere meters away) or over immense spans (miles apart), thus making them perfect for a variety of networking needs.
Directing the radio frequency energy with a 10 degree beam width, a wireless bridge concentrates the power in a single direction, enabling maximum efficiency.
The directional quality of this transmitter is a major boon in a noisy RF environment, as it minimizes the chance of hearing interference from other transmitters, and its focused 10 degree beam width zone ensures that the receiver and transmitter are oblivious to outside noise.
How Are Wireless Bridges Useful?
Typically, a physical link is required to establish a connection – which eliminates the possibility of utilizing a VPN, and even a wired link is not possible. For instance, high-performance leased lines are often cost-prohibitive in certain areas of London, and may not even be an option in certain regions.
Establishing and sustaining a long-range wired network is costly, and sometimes simply not possible from a technical perspective. Additionally, you may need to get permission from the appropriate governing bodies. In conclusion, at times, a wireless bridge is the only practicable choice.
When it comes to certain situations, utilizing a wireless bridge may be the more sensible choice for reasons like technological needs, performance or safety, cost or legal restrictions, corporate goals, or upkeep capacity limitations. Here are some of the typical causes for setting up wireless bridges:
Leased lines may be cost-prohibitive or unavailable, and, for reasons of bandwidth, latency, or security/compliance, a VPN simply won’t do.
Without access to an Internet connection or a line to lease, the two endpoints lack a fast network connection, leaving no other option than to deploy a wired link.
Interfering electrical signals, such as those emanating from industrial equipment, make it impossible to establish Ethernet connections and prohibitively costly to set up long-distance fibre links.
Despite the effort, a wired link cannot be deployed quickly enough if you don’t anticipate extended use.
Due to technical and/or legal obstacles, deploying wired links can be a challenge: whether it be due to a party’s refusal, the need for cables to be laid through difficult or inaccessible areas, or even underground in busy cities, it can be a challenging task.
Line of Sight Requirements
Fresnel Zone & RF Line Of Sight
As the distance increases, the 10-degree beam width can expand significantly, forming what is known as a ‘Fresnel zone’ – a rugby ball-shaped area whose size varies depending on the frequency used.
Investigating whether you have line of sight between two end points can be deceptive if you only consider optical line of sight, and neglect RF line of sight. Keep in mind that, because of the Fresnel zone, these two concepts are fundamentally different.
If something encroaches upon the Fresnel zone, the near or no line of sight link you have may not be detectable using a WiFi device. This can be a common occurrence when you have an optional line of sight; the type of bridge used (frequency or hardware vendor) plays a role in this.
Using a WiFi spectrum analyser, you may be able to detect which frequency is being utilized; yet, you won’t be able to join the network or access any of the data. Above all else, wireless bridges tend to encrypt the data in order to ensure its security.
A wireless bridge is a layer 2 technology, so it relies on wired switches, not routers, for communication between either end of the link. This setup is sometimes referred to as a ‘flat’ network, allowing you to effectively create a LAN (local area network) extension – as BT once called it, a LES circuit.
Wireless Bridge Speeds
Are you looking for a wireless bridge with speeds up to 20Gbps? Bond 2 x 10Gbps links together to get double the bandwidth – 20Gbps full duplex! That’s right, full duplex offers the same speed in both directions: up and down.
The advertised speeds may not be what you get, as various factors can influence performance. Take radio frequency line of sight, for instance: a 300 Mbps connection could turn out to be just 14 Mbps, or even no connection at all, if too much obstruction or interference is present.
A building in your way can be a blessing in disguise, as you can utilize its reflective properties to “bounce” your signal and create a multipath – multiple data streams that combine to provide a single, usable link.
Structures along the transmission corridor will always provide superior performance to trees, however, it’s vital to note that hefty throughput demands require a crystal-clear line of sight.
Microwave Wireless Bridges
From Wi-Fi-enabled cameras to cordless phones, there are numerous frequencies that wireless bridges can leverage. In this section, let’s take a look at some of the most widely-used frequencies that work best when you have a direct line of sight, yet can still function even with little or no visibility.
- 3GHz: Licensing is necessary and the foliage provides near-perfect cover for line-of-sight links.
- 2.4GHz: Although it’s free and great for creating short links, it’s generally not advisable to use this for legacy WiFi.
- 5GHz: You can obtain either an exempt Band A or B license, or a Light Licensed Band C, to enable links with speeds of up to 800 Mbps over an 80Mhz channel.
RF frequencies with higher capacity generally require an unobstructed, “line-of-sight” connection to function properly, a condition Ofcom often requires in their licensing agreements:
- 6-38GHz: With licensed access providing up to 2Gbps of bandwidth even over long distances, operating in the UK can be costly – especially when seeking higher capacity.
- 60GHz: This license-exempt connectivity is perfect for blazing-fast speeds up to 1Gbps-2.5Gbps across distances of 800m-1600m.
- 70GHz: Light Licensed and usable for links of up to 1Gbps – 2.5Gbps. Slightly greater range than 60GHz owing to atmospherics.
- 80GHz: The Light Licensed technology allows for lightning-fast speeds of up to 10Gbps, even over lengthy distances, far exceeding the reach of 60/70GHz solutions.
For optimal operation, all of the above frequencies necessitate a clear line of sight.
Bridges Using Laser/FSO (Free-Space Optics)
The laser links provide a remarkably fast, interference-free wireless connection – but beware of fog and sunshine, which can occasionally interrupt the ultra-narrow beam of light connecting the two points.
In the event of an obstacle blocking the line of sight path, a laser link will not be able to modulate down – it’ll just cease functioning until the obstruction is removed. This can be disastrous for businesses that depend on uninterrupted uptime for successful operation.
What Do I Need to build a Point to Point Bridge Link?
In order to obtain line of sight between the two locations, you may need to install a pole or tower on your roof top. It’s advisable to conduct a site survey before installation to ensure a successful outcome.
- Select a Wireless Bridge: Here are some things to consider when selecting a wireless bridge
- Distance: The amount of distance between you and the signal will decide what type of antenna you’ll need – whether you’ll require an external antenna or if an integrated antenna is enough.
- Wireless protocol: Would you like to capitalize on the potential of 802.11-based bridge technology to interact with other bridge providers, or would you rather use a protocol exclusive to a certain vendor? Using a unique protocol can offer heightened security compared to a common protocol.
- Frequency: Which band would you prefer to utilize – licensed or unlicensed (2.4, 5-5.8 GHz)?
- Indoor or Outdoor: No need to break the bank if you opt for an indoor wireless bridge – you’ll have to buy plenty of LMR-400 cable to connect the outdoor antenna, however, resulting in an unwelcome loss of signal strength. The good news is that an outdoor bridge can be installed right next to the antenna, minimizing the amount of cable required and consequently reducing signal degradation.
- Select a Wireless Antenna: If the bridge you’ve chosen lacks an integrated antenna, you’ll need to select one now. For point-to-point connections, we recommend directional panel, grid, or solid parabolic dish antennas.
- Peripherals: Choose the correct lightning arrestors and RF antenna cables to establish a secure connection.
- Double it: Multiply the hardware you’ve chosen by two, ensuring that you have the same configuration on both sides.
- Installation: Are you considering doing your own installation? If so, don’t forget to bench test the bridges before putting them out in the field. However, if you’d like a professional to get the job done, choose an experienced installer in your area to run the right cables, install any necessary poles or towers, align the antennas, and configure the radios. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll help you find the best option.
What are the benefits of using a wireless bridge?
Going wireless with a bridge instead of an adapter on the remote computer can deliver a huge payoff in terms of more power, farther reach, and faster performance.
What is a wireless bridge most commonly used for?
The wireless bridge converts any wired network enabled device with available Ethernet port to the latest wireless technology. Now you can make wired devices such as printers, wired computers, TVs, Blu-ray Disc™ players, game consoles and even network attached storage wireless.
Can wireless bridge go through walls?
Wireless Ethernet bridge is transmitted by infrared has excellent performance. Indoor use can achieve signal transmission through 4 walls, with a transmission distance of 492 feet. Outdoor use can achieve long-distance transmission up to 1640 feet.
Is a wireless bridge more secure than a wireless router?
Yes, a wireless bridge is more secure than a wireless router because a wireless router has an open Wi-Fi network that can be accessed by anyone within range.
does a wireless bridge reduce bandwidth?
No. A wireless bridge creates an ethernet connection between the devices and does not reduce bandwidth.
Wireless bridges are an invaluable tool for connecting two or more networks together. They offer fast, reliable, and secure connections, as well as easy setup and configuration. With their many benefits, it’s no wonder why wireless bridges are becoming increasingly popular.
If you’re interested in learning more about how a wireless bridge can benefit your network, reach out to one of our experts today. Rezence have the knowledge and experience to help guide you through the process and ensure you get the most out of your wireless bridge.
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