Home > FAQ > Cablefree - Questions and Answers

    What is Cablefree?

    Cablefree systems can transmit high-speed digital data and television pictures through the atmosphere over distances up to and exceeding 4000m. State-of-the art infrared technology makes this a perfect alternative to traditional cable or radio systems, with unprecedented performance and simplicity of use – There is no compromise to signal quality, with freedom from interference or radio licensing regulations.



    When should I consider Cablefree?

    Any occasion when you need outdoor point-to-point connection of Computer or Data networks, Telephone exchanges or video images for Broadcast Television or CCTV security, over distances of up to 4000m. Typical usage is when other options such as digging trenches for copper or fibre optic cables, leased lines, microwave or radio links are ruled out on grounds of cost, timescale or planning/licensing issues. Cablefree systems are quick to set up, reliable, safe and future-proof with low running costs. Installations can be temporary, mounted on tripods, or permanent such as between buildings.



    What about bandwidth and signal quality?

    Optical technology used in Cablefree systems offer the huge bandwidth associated with that of fibre-optic cable, without the need for a physical link - virtually any two points separated by a clear line-of-sight path of up to 1 kilometre can be connected. Currently Cablefree systems can transmit high-speed digital data up to 1.5Gbps, allowing connection of Gigabit Ethernet, ATM-155 and 270Mbps SMPTE Serial Digital signals without the ‘bottleneck’ associated with radio, leased-line, cable-modem or WAN connection. Analogue signals such as composite video can also be transmitted with excellent fidelity. The bandwidth limitations, signal distortion and interference problems with radio and microwave systems do not occur.



    Is Cablefree convenient and easy to use?

    Users have a choice of Cablefree systems to suit the application – for short ‘hops’ of around 1km, the Cablefree 622 and Gigabit are high performance solutions. For longer-range links up to 4km, the Cablefree Access gives unmatched performance from a unit which are compact and cost-effective. All Cablefree systems can be configured with interfaces for a vast range of data or video applications.

    On-site upgrades mean that a network connection is ‘future-proof’ – if you need to switch from 10Mbps to 100Mbps Ethernet, single to multiple-channel CCTV or from analogue to digital video, your Cablefree can be reconfigured by simple change of interchangeable plug-in modules. Cablefree systems are easy to set up for either permanent or temporary use, with a range of alignment aids to ensure quick network connection. On-screen menus, optional remote configuration and monitoring allow system status, environmental conditions and out-of-tolerance warnings to be detected.



    Can I use Cablefree as a temporary link?

    Yes. Cablefree systems are quick to set up, suited to temporary or permanent deployment, and can be run from both mains and low voltage power supplies or battery packs. Typical lead-acid battery sources can give up to 24 hours continuous operation. There are no licensing issues or risk of interference.



    How does Cablefree solve my Data Networking problems?

    Cablefree links are entirely transparent to network traffic, allowing extension of existing networks or interconnection of legacy networks in hub-to-hub or hub-to-workstation configuration. A range of industry-standard interfaces allows Cablefree to connect to Ethernet (10 and 100Mbps, Twisted-pair and Fibre-optic), Token Ring (4 or 16Mbps), FDDI (Twisted-pair or Fibre-optic), ATM-155 (Twisted-pair or Fibre-optic), Fibre-channel, ESCON and many others. New Cablefree technology allows multiple 2Mbps E1/G703 channels to be carried alongside network traffic, giving the ultimate in building-to-building connectivity for PABX and computer connection.



    I need telephone extensions in a nearby building. Can Cablefree help?

    An absolutely classic scenario – companies on industrial or science parks frequently need to extend into nearby units, or need temporary use of another building. Services such as BT MegaStream are expensive to install and then there are high line-rental costs – and the delay in connection may be unacceptable. With Cablefree you can have a 2Mbps E1/G703 link for half the cost* – and installation typically takes less than 3 hours. You can connect to any industry-standard telephony multiplexer or PABX. Cablefree also offers systems with multiple 2Mbps channels over a single link.

    * For a 2Mbps, 200m link in Surrey, 1997, BT quoted £12,000 for installation and around £2,000 annual fee.



    What about the ‘Last Mile’ problem in the Cable industry?

    The ‘Last Mile’ problem is where a telecomms or cable company has to provide high-speed links from subscribers or potential customers sites to the carrier’s backbone – such as an SDH network, which may be laid under the road nearby. Cable modems, ISDN (64 or 128kbps) or DSL technologies are solutions currently under criticism for limited bandwidth or concerns over reliability, and local authorities place limitations on the frequency at which a public right-of-way may be disrupted for digging – cost and timescale concerns are issues also for copper links. Cablefree is an ideal ‘Last Mile’ solution, connecting to the backbone at data rates from 2 to 155Mbps and beyond – removing the twisted-pair ‘bottleneck’.



    Is Cablefree suitable for Outside Broadcast or CCTV use?

    Definitely – Cablefree systems offer exceptional performance in picture quality for both analogue and digital pictures. Broadcast formats include analogue composite video (over 67dB SNR, frequency response flat to over 9MHz and impeccable specifications for signal fidelity) and SMPTE 259 Serial Digital (143, 177, 270 and 360Mbps). For CCTV use Cablefree offers interfaces for single and multi-channel composite video with optional audio and telemetry channels (RS232, RS422 and others). There are no interference or licensing issues, and no restrictions near airports or in flammable environments.



    Is this technology reliable? Or safe?

    Yes, and yes! Optical systems only suffer in performance when the atmosphere is visibly obscured – such as in fog. However, Cablefree is designed to cope with all normal variation in weather conditions such as rain, fog, snow, smog and thermal shimmer, and a large built-in ‘fade’ margin ensures uninterrupted data transmission with superior performance over comparable technologies*. The use of divergent beam technology overcomes potential problems of vibration and building movement, ensuring correct alignment at all times.

    With regard to safety, Cablefree systems are certified to meet the stringent eye-safety requirements of IEC825 and BS EN60825, which make them completely safe to use. A range of safety features ensures that the systems remain so even in fault conditions. The units are powered from 12V d.c. using batteries or external mains power supplies, thus eliminating electrical hazards associated with mains voltages.

    * For typical installations, Cablefree attains availability between 99.997% and 99.7% depending on distance and location, and bit-error-rate of between 10-12 and 10-9 even at high data rates. These figures compare well with microwave or even hard-wired systems.



    How do I find out more about Cablefree?

    Cablefree would be delighted to assist you by providing more information about our systems and how the technology can suit your application. In addition to the examples given above, Cablefree is suited to a huge and growing range of applications, and some exciting future developments. Cablefree systems can be supplied configured for your application directly from our head office in Surrey, U.K, or from a number of appointed resellers. Contact us for quotation or shipment details.

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