Device Test: Quality Wireless Connection for a Great Price – Tsunami MP11a

The Wi-Fi technology is the best within today's cheap wireless technologies because of its low price. However, many customers rather choose more reliable and more secure solutions while still being able to afford it. Thanks to the company of Proxim and its products of Tsunami, such requirement is realistic.
Basic Characteristics
The Tsunami MP11a device can be used in the Czech Republic on freely accessible frequencies of 5.25GHz to 5.850GHz. By default, the system works with the 20MHz communication channel bandwidth reaching the transfer speeds of up to 54 Megabits per Second, depending on the channel encoding used. In the case of activating the so-called Turbo Mode, up to 108 Megabits per Second can be achieved while occupying two channels at once. The channel bandwidth can be lowered down to 10MHz and 5MHz on the user level, and naturally, at the same time, the maximum values of the transfer speeds will decrease as well.

Base Station Proxim Tsunami MP11a

We tested the devices 5054-BSU-WD and 5054-SUI-EU. These are the Base Stations or the Clients' Stations in the indoor versions. Even though, both devices are very robust in their design. The Base Station is protected by a metal case, which can be placed into the additional plastic cover. All connectors are located on the metal case body. The cables go inside through the slot in the plastic cover, and the pigtail for connecting the antenna leads outside. Thanks to this concept, the spots for connecting the cabling and connectors are protected very well. If necessary, the quite massive metal stand can be attached to the device for better stability. The foregone conclusion is also the preparation for installation on the wall. Nevertheless, the Client is not as protected as it might seem, because in addition to the pigtail, the connector of which is under the standalone cover, the cables are connected to the external body of the device by default. However, the manufacturer includes the standalone cover with the package, which can be attached by two screws after the cables are installed; therefore, the connectors are covered sufficiently at the Clients as well.

The Base Station can be connected to the external power supply, and the technology of Power over Ethernet (PoE) is supported as well. By default, both devices are supplied with the PoE power supply. The Client can be also attached to the Ethernet power supply; nevertheless, the package contains the standard power supply only.

Extensive Configuration Possibilities
In their foundation, both devices are configured to have a fixed IP Address of 10.0.0.1, whereat for the initial configuration, the most suitable is to use the supplied utility called Scan Tool. This utility works at the line layer; therefore, configuration of the actual IP Addresses poses no problems, and the utility is capable of connection with the device. After the search is complete, the IP Address can be either set as static or as dynamic using the DHCP server. Additional configurations can be done through the comprehensible web interface, the graphical design of which is identical for both units. It is natural that the contents of the individual menus cannot be the same. There are many possibilities to control the devices. If all options fail, both devices feature the RS-232 connector, which will enable control via console. The Telnet Service can be utilized as well. In order to set all parameters, the SNMP protocol can be used, and for example during the firmware upgrade, the implementation of the TFTP protocol can be very useful.

Tsunami MP11a Client Device

This device can work in two modes. Evidently, the Bridge mode will be utilized the most with the backbone, Point-to-Point, or similar connections. In the case of deploying Tsunami MP11a for the distribution of connectivity for end users, the mode with an active built-in routing is preferable. This way the customer has a choice of preferring either the device working at the second (line) layer of the ISO/OSI model, or at the third layer version of such.

Exemplary Service Quality Management
When testing the device, it is common to check all possibilities offered and more or less to describe them in detail. In the case of using the Tsunami device, it would be the best to deviate slightly from this course and to increase significantly the options to manage the quality of services. The QoS elaborated in such way is very seldom in this price range. It is built on the model pursuant to the 802.16 standard, which is being utilized by WiMAX as well. The specification of the data-flow parameters can be achieved through several steps. At first, the recognition of the data unit is configured using the so-called Packet Identification Rule (PIR). Subsequently, the PIR is assigned to one of the operations classes (Service Flow Classes). Insofar as there are more PIRs in such class, their prioritization can be configured within such class as well. Then the QoS classes can be defined and the individual SCFs can be incorporated into them. The configuration options are extensive. The user will also find useful that it is not necessary to enter the abstract values within the scope of a final configuration, and that it is possible to enter the specific parameters of the data flow directly. This means that for instance the maximum value of delay, jitter, maximum bandwidth, minimum bandwidth, etc. can be entered.

Security is our Priority
If you put a lot of emphasis on security, neither in this case the Tsunami concept lags behind, rather vice versa. Your data is already protected partially because none of the known protocols is being used as a communication standard, but the solution developed directly by the company of Proxim. That would not be enough by itself however; therefore, in addition to the today's widely used methods of WPA and of not-as-safe WEP, also the 128-bit encryption of AES can be used. The foregone conclusion is also the option of authentication using the external RADIUS server.

In order to prevent the unwanted data transfer through the wireless connection, several levels of filtering the operations can be utilized. A very good idea is to filter the ARP broadcast from certain destinations. That can be useful in particular in cases when the wireless connection is connected to the extensive fixed network. In such case, it would be inappropriate to have the ARP packets distributed through the wireless connection; that unnecessarily lowers the accessible bandwidth and it could pose a security risk as well. The foregone conclusion is also filtering per MAC Addresses or per IP Addresses.

Quality Documentation, Final Recommendation
This type of device already features very extensive and thorough documentation of all configuration options. Not even the Tsunami device from the company of Proxim is excluded. The supplied CD includes not only the applicable software used for basic configuration of Access Points and Clients, but also the extensive documentation in common PDF format.

When utilizing the Proxim Tsunami MP11a system, the user will receive the system with much higher potential for the price of more elaborated Wi-Fi solutions, let them be the more efficient economy with a transfer spectrum, wider security options, service quality management, and system reliability. Through launching the Tsunami products, the company of Proxim had proved that the professional hardware for the development and administration of reliable wireless connections does not have to be very expensive.