ORLANDO--Ad hoc network software vendor PacketHop today announced that its PacketHop Communications System 2.0 adds support for the 4.9 GHz licensed public-safety band and cellular data networks.

Demonstrated in April as part of a Homeland Security exercise in Long Beach, Calif., the PacketHop Communications System 2.0 continues the company’s practice of providing mobile mesh broadband capability and its support of solutions in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. However, when used in the licensed 4.9 GHz band, the PacketHop solution demonstrates greater performance capability, including 10 times the line-of-sight range typically found in the unlicensed bands, PacketHop President and CEO Michael Howse said.

“What we experienced in the field with unlicensed spectrum was pretty significant interference—certainly in metro areas, where there was a proliferation of 802.11 networks,” Howse said. “The interference was so bad in some cases that our very sensitive, real-time applications like multicast video were almost useless in highly dense, interference-laden environments with 802.11 [at 2.4 GHz]. The 4.9 GHz band is just so nice and clean, we’re seeing excellent range and propagation.”

An outspoken proponent of the lower-powered emissions mask, PacketHop also is supporting the higher-powered emissions mask with this release, Howse said.

“The interesting thing is, we initially thought that potentially there would be two products, due to the specialized nature of the two [power levels],” Howse said. “Nowadays, what we’re seeing is a whole host of 802.11 radio vendors that support both. So there’s really no difference required between the two masks. The benefit to end-users is that they get both the low power and high powered capability in a single product at very low cost.

“It provides for a much more cost-effective system. … It not just supports the economies of scale, it also means you don’t have to reinvent another chip, so it gets you out of the specialized equipment business. So, in a single product, you can now support a 2.4, 4.9 and 5.0, and the customer can select which one they want to use.”

Even with the performance gains available at 4.9 GHz, the PacketHop technology has limited range. To provide wide-area coverage, the latest PacketHop system also supports cellular data networks from the CDMA and GSM families to enable remote connectivity outside the localized PacketHop ad hoc networks, Howse said.

“Access points aren’t mobile, but your cellular data connections are,” he said. “The beauty of this is you can be well outside the perimeter of the PacketHop broadband network and still have connectivity into the mesh through a cellular data connection. From an end-user’s perspective, it’s completely seamless as they roam between the high-bandwidth, localized 4.9 GHz network and the low-bandwidth cellular data network.”

Future releases of the PacketHop software will include support for new wireless standards such as WiMAX. In fact, PacketHop is a partner of M2Z Networks, which has proposed to the FCC the building of a nationwide WiMAX network.