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New wireless standard promises ‘near wired’ reliability

16 June, 2014

Belden claims to be offering the first industrial wireless application of a new industry standard that allows wireless systems to overcome network failures without disrupting data transmissions. It says that the Parallel Redundancy Protocol (PRP) technology will allow wireless technologies to be used reliably for mission-critical industrial applications where distances or environments make wired installations expensive or challenging.

“PRP technology is already used in wired applications,” explains Belden product manager, Pascal Unterdorfer. “However, it is totally new for a wireless access point. With the use of PRP we can increase the reliability of a wireless connection and/or network significantly. In fact, tests prove that we can come close to the reliability of a wired connection.”

PRP provides zero failover with two redundant networks. By doubling the packets, if one packet fails, data losses are avoided, because either the faster packet or the second packet gets through with a functioning second network.

The PRP functionality is included in the latest version of Belden’s Hirschmann HiLCOS 8.9 WLAN firmware, which is used to manage its OpenBat line of industrial wireless devices. The new firmware includes opportunistic key caching for fast authentication between several access points in a network – known as fast roaming – where the access points are under common administrative control. It also offers other management, redundancy and security functions.

As reliable as a hard-wired connection?

Belden says that incorporating PRP in products such as wireless access points, clients and bridges will result in a significant increases in reliability.

free trial version of the HiLCOS 8.9 is available for download, although this does not have active PRP functionality, which is only available by for products ordered preconfigured from the factory. 

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