Vivato has launched a new bridge/router which is intended to offer users a cheaper entry into its distinctive wireless network architecture. At $495 in the US it is an expensive access point, but includes two radios. Both can be used as "smart access points", or one can be used for wireless backhaul into a Vivato network.

Vivato's smart access point technology is very different from the "thin access point" strategy of companies like Aruba, Trapeze and Symbol. Instead of a distributed set of access points controlled by a switch, it uses a switch integrated with a single high-tech phased array antenna, to cover a whole building from a single unit that combines access point and switch.

According to the Vivato site, its switch (available in Indoor and Outdoor flavours) directs data, packet-by packet, precisely in the direction of the device accessing the system, so it can support many users simultaneously. The switch costs around $9000.

The new bridge/router is a bit more like a regular Wi-Fi access point but with twice the coverage, according to Vivato. It also has the ability to hook up wirelessly to a Vivato switch, to cover areas which can't be reached by the big switch and may be difficult to wire.

"The market hasn't shown me enough to know whether Vivato has a winning strategy or not," said market analyst Richard Webb of Infonetics Research. "It looks a little ungainly, and sits off to the side of what the other switch vendors are doing, but it is very good for specific applications, such as temporary wireless LANs. Vivato really does give you a good neat quick fix to deploy a wide coverage system".