The City of Calgary has purchased the first links using free space optics and millimeter wave systems from Seattle-based Terabeam Corp. in what the City estimates will become up to 20 wireless links to connect City offices and staff.
The relationship with Terabeam began when officials of the Canadian city sought a way to connect one of 175 outlying city government buildings to the communications network at Calgary City Hall. Terabeam linked the two buildings with an invisible light beam carrying data at one thousand megabits per second using a pair of Terabeam Magnas. That one-Gigabit connection is the equivalent of 660 T-1 lines, say company representatives.
The beam is transmitted from a Terabeam transceiver inside one building, through the office window, through the air, through another building's window to another Terabeam transceiver several blocks away. With the success of that link, the City sought new ways to wirelessly link other city buildings and provide further city services at high speed.
Three of the new connections will be made with six Terabeam Ellipticas, small free space optics transceivers that provide fiber optic-like connectivity to various municipal locations. Two more links will utilize four Terabeam Magnas, the same kind of larger transceivers that the city has already deployed. The city will also use two Terabeam Gigalink millimeter wave systems to route the signals from Calgary's digital network of traffic cameras. Once those first two traffic links are completed, the city will identify the locations for future installations to complete the traffic network. Depending upon the design, the network will require 40 or more Terabeam Gigalinks.
"We are very pleased with the quality and reliability of Terabeam's equipment," notes Ingy Randhawa, manager of Calgary's IT Architecture Office. "Our initial link provides service for city employees in our water works and sewer departments. These groups now operate as if they were in City Hall. With that success, we are now linking many other locations to achieve the same result we did in this first deployment."
Terabeam's patent-pending pointing and tracking system allows the narrow invisible light beam to maintain a link despite scintillation and building sway. The Terabeam software in the Ellipticas adjusts the beam up to 300 times per second. Terabeam's Gigalink systems transmit a narrow millimeter wavelength radio beam (60 GHz) in much the same manner as the Terabeam FSO systems send the light beam.