A Visit To Tranzeo Wireless Technologies, Part 2


Here is the second part to the Tranzeo Tour. Tranzeo has been around as the forrunner in the WISP industry when it comes to easy install wireless internet radios. Very sturdy and reliable equipement. I have used them for over 6 years now.

Part 2: Tranzeo’s Plans For The Future

Tranzeo_logoIn Part 1 of this story, I discussed my wife Tina’s and my tour of Tranzeo Wireless Technologies’ impressive factory in Pitt Meadows, British Columbia, Canada near Vancouver in March 2007.

In Part 2, the conclusion of this story, we sat down with VicePresident of Sales and Marketing, Tony Kott and Vice President ofProduct Development Damian Wallace to discuss Tranzeo’s plans for the future.

One of the first things we discussed was how people’s use of Broadband Internet Access has evolved from being convenient and fun to, what is to them, now a necessity. Unlike a typical manufacturer who is “decoupled” from the actual end-users of their product, Tranzeo is able to observe Internet user behavior directly because they own and operate a Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) in nearby Whisler / Maple Ridge which they use as a testbed for new products. Tranzeo makes three key observations about use of Broadband Internet Access:

Users get really irritated when their Internet access goes down because they use it for, what is to them, important functions, so WISPs need to design and build their networks to be highly reliable.”Best effort” grade of service is no longer adequate – WISP networks must have sufficient Quality Of Service (QOS) to support Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) very reliably – it’s simply expected by the user.Key applications that Broadband Internet Access users expect to work reliably are web browsing, email, Skype, and recently, entertainment. That’s what they want to use their Internet connection for, even with the attendant large file transfers. To them, that’s what Broadband Internet Access is all about.

One example of product development from their observations of their WISP is that Tranzeo noted that 60% of the traffic was upstream from the users from the use of Skype and video. As a result, Tranzeo developed a radio with full-duplex capability – transmitting and receiving simultaneously.

Tranzeo also gets input about its products by exhibiting at a number of trade shows… but not necessarily just the usual wireless and Internet conferences in the US. Some recent trade shows Tranzeo has exhibited at are CEBIT (the major European Internet and Information Technology [IT] tradeshow), in Germany, GITEX in Dubai, Expocomm in Mexico, and Computex in Taiwan. Exhibiting at major international trade shows such as this makes it apparent that Tranzeo’s sights are set much higher than just supplying the WISP industry with great, cost-effective products.

When we discussed industry trends, the discussion quickly turned to WiMAX. Tranzeo sees WiMAX as a major technological shift for the WISP industry from proprietary and 802.11/Wi-Fi-based technology. Advantages of WiMAX include:

Faster speeds – easily tens of Mbps;Full interoperability between different vendor’s products – a key advantage for WISPsLonger ranges – tens of miles (designed for such ranges, not “fighting it” as is the case with 802.11/Wi-Fi-based systems)Near/Non-Line-Of-Sight capabilitiesLess-expensive systems because of higher production volumes, standardization, and direct competition

On the basis of that last point – “less expensive systems”, Tranzeo plans to make a major push into the WiMAX market, including OEM sales which is a new line of business. Tranzeo feels it has a key advantage in the WiMAX market in having both design and highly cost-effective manufacturing located in North America because it can be “real-time responsive” to what they expect to be explosive demand for WiMAX Customer Premise Equipment (CPE).

Tranzeo feels that the US 700 MHz band that will be fully available for use beginning in 2009 will “go WiMAX”. Tranzeo is close to in-house manufacturing of its 900 MHz systems which, which will then lead to its own 700 MHz technology.

But Tranzeo is hardly waiting around for 700 MHz WiMAX to develop. Tranzeo is busy developing a 3.5 GHz product for non-US markets, including Canada, and is cautiously optimistic about the proposed US 3.65 GHz (3650 MHz) band, and the resulting demand for systems from their core market of Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs).

In its non-WiMAX products, Tranzeo (planned, at the date of the interview) to be testing a new feature for its products that would add the “new” (to the US) 5.4 GHz band which required Tranzeo to add Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) and Automatic Transmit Power Control (ATPC), and likely shipping such products within a few months. When I asked about mobile systems (a favorite product category of mine), Wallace responded that Tranzeo offers the TR-600 “industrial” radio that is “hardened” to withstand extended temperatures and vibration, as well as being powered from 12 volts Direct Current (DC), and thus well-suited for vehicular applications. I was impressed – vehicular Broadband Wireless Internet Access is a rapidly-growing application, and if Tranzeo can combine its Sensoria Mesh Networking expertise with “hardened” hardware, it may well be able to break into a lucrative niche and compete with Motorola and Cisco for mobile systems.

Discussion of adding DFS/ATPC capability brought up the topic of Tranzeo’s recent acquisition of Sensoria. Sensoria made, and Tranzeo has continued, Mesh Networking Broadband Wireless Internet Access systems. Tranzeo feels that the acquisition was highly synergetic – Tranzeo got highly-capable software/firmware capability that it previously lacked, and Tranzeo is able to apply its capabilities in highly-cost-effective hardware manufacturing to the former Sensoria product line.

The Sensoria team, now “Tranzeo USA”, has already begun to supply software/firmware to Tranzeo’s products, and Tranzeo expects its software/firmware to evolve to be on a par, or exceed, the capabilities of other router software commonly used in the WISP industry such as (legacy) Karlnet, Mikrotik, and StarOS, especially considering Sensoria’s already mature Mesh Networking capabilities that the other three are only beginning to develop. Taking the Sensoria products forward, Tranzeo expect to achieve good sales given that Tranzeo/Sensoria mesh will sell for approximately $1000, and similar units from Mesh Networking industry-leader Tropos sell for approximately $3600.

Acquiring Sensoria not only expanded Tranzeo’s technological capability, but it expanded Tranzeo’s markets. Sensoria sold its products to Metropolitan Wi-Fi Networks, hotels, education, warehouses, auctions (fast setup), camps, and many others where Tranzeo did not yet have much of a presence. Sensoria’s established markets “meshed” well with Tranzeo’s existing plans to press into markets such as security, SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) telemetry systems used for such things as pipeline and water distribution networks, enterprise, education, government, and Wi-Fi HotSpots. Coming from the WISP industry, with the attendant intense demands for technically sophisticated and highly-reliable products at very competitive prices, Tranzeo feels it is well-equipped to enter into these new markets, especially in partnership with capable “channel partners”, for example, security (alarm) service companies.

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