Want to know more about what is a wireless bridge? Ever feel like your house is not as connected as you would like it to be? If so, a wireless bridge may be the solution to all of your problems. A wireless bridge is a device that links two networks and creates a much stronger and more efficient connection, giving you a better network and quicker speeds.
In this article, Rezence will dive deeper into the definition of the wireless bridge, the different types of wireless bridges, and why you should use one.
- 1 What Is A Wireless Video Bridge?
- 2 What Makes Wireless Bridges Useful?
- 3 What Kind Of Performance Can I Expect From A Wifi Bridge
- 4 Requirements For Line Of Sight
- 5 How Does A Wireless Bridge Installation Work?
- 6 What Kind Of Wireless Bridge Do I Need?
- 7 Is Wifi Bridges A Health Risk?
- 8 Conclusion
What Is A Wireless Video Bridge?
A wireless bridge (or a group of devices) is a solution that connects two networks or two segments of a network over a wireless channel. This is why the name.
Wireless bridges are used to connect networks, such as those within the same building, nearby shipping and manufacturing areas, and offices just across the street. A wireless bridge is also known as a WiFi bridge.
Wireless bridges connect two access points using radio (RF), microwave (MW), and optical/laser signals (free-space optics FSO) links.
Antennae, which are usually highly directional antennae, allow them to transmit and receive wireless signals and connect to regular IP networks. A wireless link can join two IP networks.
Wireless bridges can transmit and receive signals using optical receptors or antennas through the air. They are also known as free-to-air (FTA), bridges.
These wireless links are also point-to-point because communication is done between two transceivers, rather than one transmitter that broadcasts a signal to all receivers.
What Makes Wireless Bridges Useful?
Why Bother With All This Trouble?
Most people will answer that you need a physical connection. This rules out VPN connections, and wired links are not possible. High-performance leased lines can be expensive in some regions of London. Leased lines might not be available in other areas.
Setting up and maintaining your own long-distance wired infrastructure can be costly. You may need to get approvals from the government. A wireless bridge may be the only option.
A wireless bridge might be the best option in other situations, such as technical, performance, security, price or legal constraints, business goals, or maintenance capacity constraints.
The most common reasons for wireless bridge deployment are:
- Leased lines are prohibitively expensive or not readily available. A VPN cannot be used for latency, bandwidth, security, compliance, or other reasons.
- One of the endpoints does not have a fast network connection. In other words, there is no line to rent or Internet connection. A wired link cannot also be deployed.
- Electrostatic interference (e.g., electrical equipment interference) can make Ethernet connections unusable. Long-distance fiber links are also not possible or too costly.
- Although a wired link is possible, it can take a while to deploy. Or you don’t plan to use it long enough to make it worthwhile.
- Wired links can’t be deployed for technical or legal reasons. One of the parties involved won’t or can’t approve deployment. Cables must be deployed on difficult terrain or buried in busy urban areas.
What Kind Of Performance Can I Expect From A Wifi Bridge
Two sets of parameters define the performance of a wireless bridge: its network performance (bandwidth, latency, etc.) and its range.
Wireless bridges can travel a distance of up to several kilometers.
Performance: Practical bandwidth caps range from 1 to 1.25 Gbps, with latency figures that can vary between a regular leased or better line (for FSO links) and those of a reliable 4G network (for long-distance microwave links).
You can expect both latency and bandwidth to be higher than you would get through a VPN connection. However, the exact numbers will depend on the equipment and bridging technology used.
Wireless bridges do not necessarily have to be better or worse than any other interconnection technology. They excel in certain areas, but they don’t excel in others, just like wired connections over the leased line or VPN connections over a public network.
Imagine that you create the following data exchange method. You copy data onto 64 GB USB sticks and fill up a pizza container with all your sticks. Then you drive from one office into another. The first office is located in Canary Wharf, while the second is in Chiswick.
It takes 45 minutes to get there. However, you are transferring 6.4 TB of data. This is an enormous amount of data. You are transferring data at 2.5 GB/s. It would take you 45 minutes to send a 4MB image. This is nearly 100 times faster than if you have a broadband connection.
This is latency. Sending a single bit takes 45 mins. This channel is high-bandwidth and can hold many more bits (up to 6 TB). It can be used in one go but also has very high latency.
Requirements For Line Of Sight
A wireless bridge will only work at maximum throughput if you have a perfect line of sight. It may be possible to get a link with lower frequency bridges in close-to-line of sight situations, e.g., if there are some tree branches in your way. These situations may not result in the advertised throughput.
The link might have to reduce its modulation to ensure a stable connection. You will need to use the lowest frequencies for ‘non-line of site’ and ‘near site of site’ links—the lower the frequency, the better. The lower frequencies are more effective at reaching obstacles because they have longer wavelengths.
People often believe that a wireless link can be installed if buildings block its Fresnel Zone. This is a common misconception. This is usually the end of the line for the wireless connection, but it may sometimes multipath around buildings to allow for weaker links at lower data rates.
Radio Frequency (RF), Or MicroWave(MW) Bridges
These bridges can operate at a variety of frequencies. These bridges are most popular:
- 3GHz: Requires licensing. Usually used by WISPs (Wireless ISPs), to provide low-throughput connections to end users
- 2.4GHz: Exempt from licensing and used to provide short links at speeds of 300Mbps
- 5GHz: May be exempted (Band A, B or C), or light licensed (Band D) and used to link speeds of 300Mbps
- 6-38GHz: Can provide up to 1Gbps long distances and is licensed. It is important to be cautious when operating in the UK, as not all spectrum is available.
- 60GHz: License exempt, and available for links up to 1Gbps over distances between 800m and 1600m
- 70GHz: Lightly licensed and available for links up to 1Gbps. A little more range than 60GHz
- 80GHz: Lightly licensed and capable of 1Gbps for longer distances than 60/70GHz
The above bridge frequencies need line of sight to work at their full potential. The Fresnel Zone, an area of wireless propagation that runs between the links due to the nature of RF, looks like a long football field and could be another topic for a Blog.
Laser Or Free Space Optics (FSO) Bridges
FSO (free-space optics) laser links are wireless connections that use optical signals for transmission and reception. They look just like RF bridges at first glance. However, optical signals are electromagnetic waves that operate higher than radio frequencies.
What’s the point?
Laser links are unique in that they are not affected by radio and electrical interference. Even within the licensed spectrum, there are still sources of interference, such as lightning and high-power electric lines.
Interference from equipment belonging to the same company can cause interference to medium- and long-range RF bridges located near busy industrial floors or electric stations.
FSO laser links don’t suffer from this interference and are exempt from licenses. They do require a clear line of sight. Physical obstacles, including smoke or heavy fog, can cause interference to an FSO wireless bridge.
Its operating distance is limited to 3 km for high-speed (1 Gbps) links and 4-5km for 100 Mbps links. This is still a lot higher than the speeds you can get with license-exempt radio bridges, particularly in busy areas like London.
How Does A Wireless Bridge Installation Work?
The RF wireless bridges can be installed outdoors, on top buildings, and metal poles or masts. They are equipped with a directional antenna, similar to a satellite dish. They require electricity to work.
While PoE can provide power for short-range, low-power links, it is not recommended. A dedicated power source is required. Each bridge endpoint connects to its network via a wired connection.
FSO laser wireless bridges look similar but use optical transmitters or receivers rather than antennae. These bridges can also be mounted on top buildings using masts. Most of them look somewhat like tripod-mounted cameras.
The most challenging part of installing LoS Bridges is determining where, how, and if the devices can be placed. Installation is relatively straightforward and takes only a few hours, depending on the distance and the environment.
The process for long-distance NLoS communications is slightly more complicated. It requires an actual design effort and licensing. Installation can also be complicated because it must be done at endpoints hundreds of kilometers apart.
Regular and thorough maintenance is required for both RF and FSO connections. Equipment operating in the licensed spectrum region must be maintained. Compliance requirements are extremely strict.
You need help installing wireless bridges that are up-to-date on technology and regulations. Just a phone call away or click away!
What Kind Of Wireless Bridge Do I Need?
This seemingly endless array of technologies has a silver lining: Many options. This is a good thing. It gives you more control over performance, budget, and operational constraints.
Your specific requirements, the deployment environment, and regulatory restrictions will all play a role in your choice, but these are some of the most common options:
The license-free RF bridges can be used for short-range operation (e.g., license-exempt) and can be used for concise range operation (e.g., connecting offices within the same building or adjacent buildings), particularly in low-density urban areas.
They are also available for longer-range deployments of up to 11.5 km since the 60 GHz spectrum was freed.
It is difficult to guarantee the performance of RF-bridges in license-exempt areas of the spectrum, particularly over long periods, because it is impossible to predict how many people will try to use the region.
High-speed links up to 100km can be made using licensed RF bridges. Because the RF spectrum is strictly managed, it can be used even in urban areas.
They require licensing, installation and maintenance are more costly, and there is a higher chance of interference from other radio/electrical equipment or natural sources.
You can use FSO links to provide high-speed links for busy urban areas. They are also helpful in areas where radio and electrical interference make other types of bridges challenging to operate.
FSO links don’t have to be licensed for radio operation. However, they are more susceptible to atmospheric interference.
Is Wifi Bridges A Health Risk?
No. Wireless bridges can be safely operated by high-quality equipment if properly installed and maintained. The RF and optical signals are safe and have no fire hazards.
RF and optical equipment used for telecom are intended to operate in the EM spectrum at low signal strength levels, which cause minimal biological effects.
Installation guidelines are designed to reduce exposure to RF or optical signals. This is because RF wireless bridges use highly directional antennae. Most RF waves are concentrated in the Fresnel area, which looks like a long narrow barrel with antennae at the ends.
Optic links operate in the invisible spectrum at low signal strengths and are installed to avoid exposure. Wireless bridges are safe as long as they’re correctly installed.
This will give you an overview of what a wireless bridge looks like and what the differences between a wireless bridge and access points are. We hope you found this article useful, and let us know in the comments below if you have any questions!