Publisher's Viewpoint: Receiving the “Wireless” Message

Oct. 27, 2008

This month I had the chance to speak with Michael Derby, CEO and founder of AvaLAN Wireless Systems Inc. , Mountain View , Calif. Derby has been in the wireless technology sector for more than 15 years and is a prior voting member at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.11 and 802.15 meetings for wireless standards.


Harlick: When thinking in terms of wireless security solutions, what message do you try to convey to people?

Derby : My goal is to educate the channel that wireless applications will work.   The frame rates won't be the same as hard wired, but with wireless you don't have to incur other costs like digging up parking lots, etc.  


Harlick: Do you feel that there are any obstacles to your message or misconceptions out there regarding wireless technology?

Derby : There are some inherent problems including wrong assumptions about how the spectrum is being used out there.   As the manufacturer we don't own the spectrum.    The FCC has given thin slices of the spectrum to the people and we have to share it with our neighbors.   Portions are very busy right now, especially in areas with a dense population.

There are three unlicensed bands issued by the FCC: 900MHz, 2.4GHz and 5GHz. What we've found is that the 2.4GHz is very busy right now.   It's okay for indoor data at a coffee shop or in a conference room, however longer range outdoor operation is typically very poor.   We recommend 900MHz for radio links that require non-line-of-sight operation or 5GHz for outdoor line-of-sight applications.

Harlick: What trends do you see in wireless security products?

Derby : Wireless products are becoming more prevalent and will continue to do so.   In fact, when deploying wireless solutions in urban and rural areas the integrator needs to take several aspects into consideration.    Think about what spectrum is going to work right now, and have I chosen a solution that is going to work five years from now when the spectrum is noisier?  

Faster and faster is great when you have a wire, however when you go wireless you can't go faster and faster because the available spectrum is getting “noisier” and the FCC isn't giving out any more unlicensed spectrum and we must share the spectrum with our neighbors.

We believe that successful long-term operation requires powerful, narrow bandwidth radios to overpower the noise, and adaptive interference intelligence to avoid noisy portions of the spectrum.


Harlick: I would like to thank Mike for his insight regarding wireless technology in today's security industry.


On another note, I would like to offer a warm welcome to our new Editor, Deborah O'Mara. Deborah brings with her a vast array of knowledge dealing in the security, fire and low voltage industries.   Please join me in welcoming her to Security Dealer !