Last October the FCC opened new bands at 70 and 80 GHz for wireless links. (See RF Report for October 20, 2003 and November 10, 2003 for information on these FCC actions.) Spectrum was also allocated at 90 GHz, but for indoor links only. Last month, Lou Slaughter launched a company, Gigabeam, to develop equipment for the new 70 and 80 GHz bands. Before starting Gigabeam, Slaughter founded Loea Communications, one of the companies that urged the FCC to license this millimeter wavelength spectrum.
Slaughter said that Gigabeam's equipment can reach up to 10 miles, but warned that at that distance weather can affect the signal. "Every radio technology has a certain amount of interference with rain," he explained, but noted that this equipment doesn't have the same problems with fog that plague free space optical/laser systems.
Gigabeam has posted a chart on its technology page showing atmospheric attenuation of frequencies ranging from 10 GHz RF into optical wavelengths. The page says the Gigabeam technology can offer up to 2.48 Gbps point-to-point data links over a distance of about one mile or more with 99.999% weather available (for about one mile or more in most parts of the U.S.) reliability.
Gigabeam links are expected to sell at around $40,000 next year, with the initial prices "somewhat higher." More information on the company is available in the Gigabeam press release Beam Me Up.
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