Airvine WaveTunnel 60Ghz Indoor Backhaul

Airvine comes to life at Networking Field Day 23! They’ve been operating for quite some time and it was NFD23 where we see their big idea moving towards the public stage.

Their big idea is pretty simple, but it won’t be an easy execution. How do I get a network backbone to places where wiring isn’t feasible or even possible? In some scenarios you could force the issue of running wires, but if I can get nearly the same with wireless, then why not do that?

The Airvine WaveTunnel product will be positioned to do exactly that. Get an indoor up-link with 60ghz radios in a dual ring configuration. It’s not mesh Wifi and in fact it’s barely Wifi at all. WaveTunnel may have more in common with Ethernet and SONET than anything else. This indoor wireless system has an open range of 100m and it should easily beam through commercial drywall. I can think of some manufacturing floors where I needed to reach remote IDFs and this would’ve made a lot of sense. Airvine should also be able to build a use case for sports arenas.

Airvine still has challenges to solve before their first customer ship. They have an RF and Ethernet stack to complete while vendor interoperability will become a sticking point. It’s going to have to interact with spanning tree at some point and that’s just one place it will get interesting. We’ll find out those details down the road.

Beaming 60ghz through materials is more of a “Science!” problem than a networking problem. I think Airvine needs to invest in some materials science quality assurance and publish many real world test cases. The customer education cycle will need real world examples to immediately push through “Can it beam through X?”. Otherwise their entire sales cycle will be talking about concrete, metal, and water.

It’s certainly an interesting road ahead for Airvine and I’m looking forward to following their journey.

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