A locally-designed and -manufactured range of Free Space Optics (FSO) products, developed by Netshield specifically to cater for South African and African conditions, has received ICASA approval. 

This, says Inus Dreckmeyr, MD of the Proudly South African electronic research and development house, should boost the local uptake of FSO.
FSO, also called free-space photonics (FSP), refers to the transmission of modulated visible or infrared (IR) beams through the atmosphere to obtain broadband communications.
“The technology is particularly useful where the physical connection of the transmit and receive locations is difficult, for example in cities where the laying of fibre optic cables is expensive, or in rural areas where there is limited, if any, wired communications infrastructure,” he says.
According to Dreckmeyr, FSO systems are filling a variety of wireless data communication needs the world over.  This ranges from banks and telecommunications companies to municipal and military installations while for corporates it provides a very high bandwidth link between sites without the recurring costs of leased lines.
Because of quick deployment,  FSO is also ideal for temporary network connectivity needs, such as at exhibitions, conventions, sporting events, or disaster recovery, as high bandwidth links can be easily and quickly provided using portable FSO systems.
The latest Netshield FSO solution, a second generation 155MBPs communication system (FSOCS), can be implemented as a combination of a four beam laser optical head system, an auto-tracking/alignment system and a Fast Ethernet/E1 multiplexer.
“Our proven multiple-beam technology takes this product to the next level by ensuring the highest availability and performance of a free space optical communications system. By drawing on extensive feedback from clients and determination from field application, our dedicated development engineers have developed a system that is ideal for African conditions,” Dreckmeyr says.
The unit, which is European eye safety standard compliant,  emits four intersecting beams of laser light that overlap creating a multi-beam energy feed on the remote receiver lens enabling the stepper motor controlled automatic tracking system to select the most significant energy field.
“The multi-beam transmitters are accurately aligned on a ∞ (infinity) point in a state of the art optical laboratory to a very cost-effective pin diode-based or avalanche photo diode receiver, ensuring optimal performance. The unit’s lenses, filters and light baffles combine perfectly with the optical beam filtering and shaping while automatic laser power control addresses changing atmospherics attenuation and building or mounting movement, which should address most environmental events that could impact transmission,” Dreckmeyr concludes.