Ubiquiti Inc is most known for its UniFi line of enterprise access points, switches, firewalls and IP cameras but what got the company started in the early days was the airMAX line of point-to-point and point-to-multipoint wireless radios. These are used for building to building situations as well as rural broadband in emerging markets and parts of the United States and New Zealand where the land is so stretched out that the feasibility of fibre broadband is too cost prohibitive.
The original airMAX M and airMAX AC line, which is still current – are based on the 802.11 WiFi standard, which in its original design was never intended for use outside where devices can be miles apart, sometimes over 25 miles. With Ubiquiti’s airMAX line, to avoid collisions the radios use a TDMA based timing system to work out when to talk and listen to avoid those collisions but still, as it is all still based on the 802.11 standard.
For the last few years, Ubiquiti has been working on its own wireless protocols, with custom silicon and some of the new devices even have custom co-processors. The new line is called LTU and it has some very impressive performance gains over airMAX AC, airMAX and even airFiber which is Ubiquiti’s last product which was all designed in house, back in 2013. airFiber is a line of backhaul point-to-point radios which have products in the licensed spectrum with 11GHz, 3GHz, 4GHz and 6GHz as well as unlicensed spectrum with 2GHz, 5GHz and 24GHz.
The new LTU line isn’t about improving backhaul capacity, it’s designed for improving the customer capacity. airMAX which is based on 802.11n is right at the bottom, with a maximum of 64 QAM and quite low rating for packets per second. You can see the perforce jump Ubiquiti has made with LTU.
“Unmatched spectral efficiency, noise resiliency, and scalability to power long-range fixed wireless networks of the new internet”
“Ubiquiti’s proprietary LTU technology, the LTU Pro is not impeded by the limitations of standard 802.11 Wi-Fi technology.”
In the new LTU range, Ubiquiti has a few new models on offer so far.
We have the new LTU Rocket which is designed to be the access point end and can be used with external connectorized antennas. It supports GPS Sync and channel widths of 10/20/30/40/50MHz for use in PtMP environments. On the Ubiquiti store the LTU Rocket is $399.
The smaller LTU Lite shares the same form factor as the airMAX AC NanoStation AC Loco is for use in situations where the customer isn’t too far away from the access point with 13dBi of gain it is probably suitable for up to 2-4km distance. On the Ubiquiti store the LTU Lite is $99.
The LTU has similar specifications to a PowerBeam AC Gen2 as it has 24dBi gain which on paper should be good for up to 10km and over. On the Ubiquiti store the LTU Pro is $179.
Both of the new CPE radios can be configured based on what is changed on the AP side, so there is no need to log into every device to make changes and they have dedicated management radios on 2GHz.
Ubiquiti also says the CPE radios now “allows independent TX and RX channel frequency configurations anywhere within the radio band to avoid local interference.”
We’ve also reached out to Ubiquiti for any more information on the new line and what it means for the company. We’ll update this post when we hear back from them.