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Point to Point Laser Link and Backup Wireless Link Installation

Project Outline

A client of Nortech’s recently acquired an office building in order to expand. The building was situated 30 metres away from their current premises and had a line-of-sight with the existing building. Nortech were tasked with linking the current building’s network to the newly acquired building through the best possible means. This would allow workers to communicate and share resources.

Possible Solutions

One solution would be to use a cable link provided through BT (or equivalent). But, unfortunately, this would incur a large initial cost and also result in a recurring annual fee to the network provider. Using this as a long term solution would not prove cost effective. Alternative options included installing a network cable between the two buildings or the provision of a point to point laser link to provide network continuity.

Final Solution

Using a BT link would incur a large annual fee, this option was not cost effective. Providing a fibre link between the buildings was not possible due to the surrounding area, roads and ground conditions.

In order to provide a network link Nortech proposed the installation of a Point-To-Point Laser with a backup Wi-Fi link. This connection would provide the buildings with a fully functional 1Gb link using the laser and a backup WiFi system.

An automatic fall over to the WiFi system would take place when the laser signal degraded though poor signal or interference. Once laser signal was restored, the connection would then be transferred back across to the laser link providing 100% network connectivity. The business were fully dependent on the link meaning network downtime was would have had a detrimental effect on the business.

Nortech proposed mounting the laser links high level on the adjacent buildings in order to provide a clear line of sight. A busy public road runs between the two buildings, mounting the laser links above the first floor window height would negate any line of sight interference from road traffic.

The presence of trees in the area could have caused problems, however Nortech ascertained that there was still a clear line of sight between the two buildings, and this would not change over the coming years.

A simple yearly survey would be completed to ensure that any line of sight issues would be found and dealt with prior to them presenting network connectivity issues. The laser link required 2x category 5e cables connected to the local server room in each building, the backup WiFi link needed 1x category 5e cable.

The laser link and Wireless links were both powered using POE injectors situated inside the cabinets, which meant that no local power was required at either end.

Nortech’s IPAF qualified engineers mounted the laser link and its Wireless backup to the external building structures using a cherry picker. The engineers used a Nifty Lift self-propelled cherry picker – model number HR15N which allowed high level access up to 15.5 metres.

The category 5e cables were routed internally to the server rooms and then presented externally at the laser link locations using category 5e external grade cable and terminated directly into the laser link and wireless backup units. Once the cables were tested and plugged in at the both ends, the laser link simply needed aligning and after a short configuration process, the 1 GB network link was up and running.

In order to ensure that the wireless backup was up and working, the signal to the laser link was disrupted and automatic cross over to the wireless link took place.

Conclusion

When coupled with wireless backup links, Point to Point Laser links provide efficient network connectivity between two line-of-sight buildings. They can overcome issues that are presented when tackling difficult ground conditions, preventing network cabling between two buildings. When installed at high level they prove an effective and reliable method of linking two buildings for network connectivity without any recurring fees.

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