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A free space optics (or optical wireless) system can be thought of as a "radio" system that uses infrared "light" instead of radio waves, or as an optical communications system that transmits laser beams point-to-point through the air, instead of along a fiber optics cable.

Unlike radio and microwave systems, no spectrum licensing or frequency coordination with other users is required, interference from or to other systems or equipment is not a concern, and the point-to-point laser signal is extremely difficult to intercept, and therefore secure. Data rates comparable to fiber transmission can be carried with very low error rates, while the extremely narrow laser beam widths ensure that it is possible to co-locate multiple tranceivers without risk of mutual interference in a given location.

Freedom from licensing and regulation translates into ease, speed and low cost of deployment. Since optical wireless transceivers can transmit and receive through windows, it is possible to mount them inside buildings, reducing the need to compete for roof space, simplifying wiring and cabling, and permitting the equipment to operate in a very favorable environment. The only essential requirement is line of sight between the two ends of the link.