A Conversation with Bo Larsson
IMS Research ranked Firetide as the No. 1 supplier of
wireless mesh equipment used in video surveillance applications
in the Americas, in its report, “The Americas
Market for Wireless Infrastructure Used in Video Surveillance.”
We sat down with Firetide president and CEO
Bo Larsson to discuss the report and Firetide’s direction
and role in the market.
Q. This is the first such report coming from a
research organization tracking the physical
security market. What is the report’s significance?
A. Acceptance of wireless in physical security
has been growing steadily, although quietly.
There’s still perception that wireless transmission is
a “niche” within the physical security industry, and
the fact that IMS took the time to research the market
indicates that wireless is going more mainstream.
Further, the report validates mesh as a viable option
within wireless, and highlights its role in the government
and municipal vertical.
For many of our reseller partners, especially in
physical security, wireless is still niche, but I often
hear that it’s core when you need it. There are situations
where wired would just be impractical or when
there’s no time for architectural approvals and environmental
impact studies. Cost is a huge driver.
Q. What other trends are you seeing in the market?
What should integrators be prepared for in 2011
A. The IMS report highlights the growing penetration
of wireless infrastructure in the three
largest markets for wireless video surveillance: government,
transportation and commercial. These three
markets also are predicted to be the fastest growing
markets for wireless infrastructure used in video surveillance
My message to the integrator community is not to
be afraid of wireless, especially if you are a player in
any of these three markets.
Q. What considerations should integrators keep in
mind while evaluating wireless technologies?
A. Obviously, we are huge proponents of mesh,
specifically of the “distributed virtual Ethernet
switch” architecture and routing. This approach
delivers industry’s highest real-world capacity of 300
MBps outdoors, approaching fiber-like performance.
But aside from performance, another critical advantage
is infrastructure mobility, which provides
visibility into what’s going on in moving trains and
vehicles. Firetide’s mesh technology enables transmission
of real-time video at 30 frames per second at 60
miles per hour, without packet loss.
Infrastructure mobility is important not only for
transportation and transit applications, but for virtually
all projects -- if not today, at least as a future
consideration. Municipalities want to stream video
in real time from police cruisers. Ports want to deploy
mesh on cranes, prison systems are rolling out
real-time video in transport shuttles -- the applications
list goes on.
That is why we always lead with mesh. It’s a futureproof
technology that the customer can grow and
adapt as needs change and new applications come on
board. But at the same time, we expect to expand the
pool of potential reseller partners.
Q. What is Firetide doing to entice more integrators
to adopt wireless for video surveillance?
A. Earlier this year we launched a family of point-to-
point bridges: non-MIMO with 35 MBps
performance and MIMO with 150 MBps performance.
Point-to-point technology is best suited for smaller
installations, with just a couple of outlying cameras,
where the performance and multi-hop capabilities are
not required. The bridges, especially the non-MIMO
model, also offer a cost-effective solution for these
The bridge product line is a steppingstone for integrators
who are testing the waters with wireless. The
bridges are pre-configured for out-of-the-box installation,
and include antenna alignment tools to further
simplify installation. Once they are comfortable with
the concept of wireless, a more sophisticated wireless
mesh will be a natural fit for larger projects.
Q. What’s ahead for Firetide?
A. Firetide is benefiting from the fast growing
government, transportation and commercial
markets, especially in the Americas and Asia Pacific.
Firetide is poised to take advantage of these trends
because of its secure, reliable and high-performance
technology, already in use by hundreds of the most
demanding municipal and transportation customers
in extensive fixed and mobile video surveillance networks.
We continue to aggressively drive product innovation,
investing more than 30 percent of revenue
in research and development.
In 2010 and beyond, we are expanding our product
portfolio to include point-to-point and point-to-multipoint
products, and focusing additional sales and
marketing efforts on EMEA. Our goal is to grow our
worldwide market share beyond mesh and beyond
“city center surveillance.” Infrastructure mobility deployments
are especially taking off, with large-scale
projects for Seoul Subway and Mumbai Metro currently
being deployed with our technology for mobile,
The utility market is another growing sector for
us, both in terms of Smart Grid communications and
physical security. Service provider projects are revving
up as well, where carriers are looking for mesh to expand
their fiber infrastructure.
Q. With all the excitement surrounding upcoming
launches of 4G/LTE wireless services, what’s
your take on the impact these technologies might have
in the professional video security market?
A. Any perception of competition from cellular
data providers is just that: perception. A standard-
resolution camera typically requires 2-3 MBps
of bandwidth, while a 1080p HD camera requires
5-7+ MBps of continuous streaming. Don’t forget
that consumer-oriented cellular data technologies are
designed to provide much higher throughput downstream,
versus upstream, while video surveillance is
Besides bandwidth, the latency will kill any attempt
at real-time video. Latency on public networks
measures in hundreds of milliseconds, while our mesh
delivers less than 1 ms of latency per hop.
There are applications for cellular data in public
safety and commercial video security, but they are
limited to one or two cameras -- often covert-transmitting
at low frame rates. In fact, we’ve replaced
many WiMAX or Wi-Fi networks, which could deliver
video with only low frame rates or did not meet
expectations in terms of uptime or reliability.
Q. What is your take on the competitive landscape?
A. The competition for Firetide is really fiber. Or,
looking at it from another angle, we strive to
extend and augment the reach of fiber. That is why we
designed the ability to route over fiber right into our
mesh, along with wire-like capacity, low latency and
Our vision is to deliver always-on, reliable connectivity
so that municipalities and commercial customers
can have visibility into their operations in real
time. With the current generation of Firetide MIMO
technology, wireless mesh can deliver visibility into all
public safety vehicles, wireless-enabled campus and
industrial operations, and metro-wide fiber-like connections
at a fraction of the cost and with much less
hassle than fiber.
This article originally appeared in the November 2010 issue of Security Today.