Review: Bountiful Router Attacks Signal-Strength Issues

Bountiful WiFi recently introduced a new wireless router that combines high signal strength and low noise to provide a coverage area two to four times larger than that for typical routers.

Marc Spiwak, Contributor

October 26, 2005

4 Min Read

Wireless networking has eliminated many of the common problems associated with wired networks and has enabled new capabilities, such as permitting visitors access to the Web. However, wireless networking also has introduced a few unique problems, the most frustrating of which is limited access when signal strength is poor. Bountiful WiFi recently introduced a new wireless router designed to remedy this problem. The router emits a stronger signal than other wireless routers, thereby eliminating signal-strength issues in areas where reception is typically spotty.

The Bountiful Router’s main function is to provide a cleaner, more powerful signal than other routers will allow, while providing up to four times the range and coverage area of typical wireless routers (without the need for boosters or extenders). It simultaneously supports 802.11b/g-based WLAN infrastructure in the 2.4GHz frequency band. The unit also offers intrusion detection and 10/100 auto-negotiation, and it has a built-in four-port 10/100 switch. Other features include a firewall to prevent hacker attacks, VPN pass-through and encryption. Ideally, this router is well-suited for use in vertical markets such as the small-business sector, government offices, health care and hospitality.

Bountiful WiFi set out to offer a wireless router that would squeeze the most out of 802.11b/g technology in order to extend coverage and reduce network contention. Most wireless routers output a signal that’s about 100 milliwatts in strength, but the Bountiful Router outputs nearly 1,000 milliwatts, which is the most powerful output allowed under FCC regulations. The unit also produces a lot less noise in its output than typical wireless routers. The combination of high signal strength and low noise makes for a coverage area that’s two to four times larger than typical routers. On top of that, a Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) built into the router helps it receive signals from weak clients.

With a coverage area much greater than typical wireless routers, businesses can get by with fewer units.

The technology’s success has been proven in an installation in Comfort Inn & Suites, a 40,000 square-foot hotel in North Salt Lake City with 78 rooms spread out over three floors.

The decision to go wireless was made after determining that wiring Ethernet cable throughout the building would be too costly and too time-consuming; wireless Ethernet connectivity could be put in place in a matter of hours and for much less of an investment. The entire hotel is serviced by just two Bountiful Routers; one in the west-end ceiling of the first floor and another in the east-end ceiling of the second floor.

The rooms located farthest from the routers still see excellent signal strength, as do rooms located next to the elevators and directly above the pool; these are areas that typically cause problems with wireless connectivity. In this example, we see two wireless routers doing a job that would normally require eight routers.

Needing fewer routers not only greatly reduces the cost of setting up a wireless network, but also reduces interference between the routers and gives IT departments less hardware to maintain.

The Bountiful Router is easily set up from a Web browser and can be managed from any computer on the network. The router will work right out of the box. The solution provider has to configure such things as establishing custom firewall settings, setting VPN pass-through options, changing the IP address setting from DHCP to static and enabling encryption.

CRN Test Center engineers set up a sample router with no problems at all, and the unit has been working flawlessly for several weeks. Because the Bountiful Router has a built-in cooling fan to prevent it from overheating, it does generate some noise that can easily be heard in a quiet room. However, because the unit is designed for use in business settings (where it would likely be set up in a server closet that’s noisy to begin with), the router’s own noise becomes irrelevant. More importantly, the cooling fan will extend the life of the router and eliminate glitches caused by overheating.

Currently, the company does not have a channel program in place, but said it is still in the early stages of forming one and is signing agreements with distributors. The Bountiful Router is being sold direct to solution providers.

The Bountiful Router has a list price of $625, but solution providers can get discounts of 40 percent to 50 percent on the unit depending on volume. That leaves plenty of room for resellers to tack on profit margins of their own.

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