We Fade to Grey

5:40 PM -- Hi there, Broadbandsters!

We know as well as anyone that it's too easy to hype the potential of WiFi municipal mesh networks. There's plenty of people around still ready to talk up the prospects of free -- or at least cheap -- Internet and VOIP services for city dwellers on these networks.

But these WiFi utopians sometimes forget that you still need to make the network work -- and, radio being what it is, that can be a tall order. And even when the network is operating properly you still need to attract users to the service.

Case in point, check out this local report on the problems faced by the $3 million WiFi mesh project in Lompoc, Calif. The project was initially delayed by weak signals and has only managed to sign up a grand total of 281 customers for its $20 a month Internet service since its launch in September. For the record, Lompoc has a population of around 41,000.

It doesn't take a genius to figure that WiFi mesh radios could face signal and interference problems. Shared wireless spectrum of the kind that mesh networks tend to operate on is bound to face some of these problems. (See Mesh: Interference in the City?.)

Nonetheless, we have heard of other muni networks that are handling fairly large volumes of users and traffic right now. Something we hope to tell you good people more about at a later date.

On with the the rest of the week's wireless broadband highlights.

Broadband Movers
There have been a couple of big money deals in the wide area this week. Rumors of an IPWireless Inc. sell-off turned out be true and WiMax startup Telsima Corp. got bankrolled to the tune of $50 million. (See NextWave Buys IPWireless, WiMax Startup Telsima Pockets $50M, and Patently Appealing.)

Coming Attractions
Arlington County (Virginia) is planning county-wide WiFi and Seattle is getting more unstrung. (See Wireless in Seattle .)

Smooth Operator Seeks Caring, Sharing Partner
For fun with WiMax, maybe more. Must have great sense of humor.

Surfin' CDMA
Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) revs up Hawaii. Verizon Wireless launches more wireless broadband in, er, New England. (See More Verizon BB in NE.)

Mobile WiMax Drives Market Growth
Wireless broadband kit shipments up 117 percent in 2006. Of course, something would have been very wrong if WiMax wasn't growing this market. Still, its surprising to see how much of this gear is proto-mobile WiMax equipment. 802.16e certification is still a few months out...

Hotspots for Tosspots:
Enjoy WiFi café society in London or go sit by the River Thames and get meshed up. Don't worry, the river doesn't smell half as bad as it used to. We hear tell that there are even fish in it these days.

Laters. — The Staff, Unstrung

wap545 12/5/2012 | 3:10:33 PM
re: We Fade to Grey These Metro Area Broadband Wireless Mesh Networks will eventually dominate the Metro markets once Muni and or their Service Providers start selecting and deploying the correct Mesh Technologies as well as the Gateways.

We can expect numerous more Lompoc type set backs due to deployment of the wrong Mesh Nodes/AP and a failure to recognize that these networks will require some serious bandwidth in the access side and very low latency in the backhaul.
The wireless (Portable/Mobile)market is no longer just looking to surf the net and read eMails. They want to share photo/video and audio files and VPN back to HQ(requiring symmetrical links), play multiplayer on line games, not to mention P2P type connections and VoiceIP services.
Even our IP Core and wired Ethernet link are being stressed by these demands and when these users want to roam they will kill all single radio and most dual radio mesh Node/AP deployed today.

What is needed from a technology standpoint is:
Multiple Radios assigned to Backhaul between nodes (minimum of 2) preferably the new 802.11n based 5Ghz radios-with enhanced QoS, Low Latnecy and extended reach and bandwidth. This would allow from 50-100Mbps/radio in the backhaul between nodes.
On the Access side we should stick with the basic (802.11g)2.4Ghz Radios near term due to the proliferation of these standard based radios. Eventually we need to be able to upgrade or replace these deployed Nodes Access radios (in the field)to take on the new 802.11n (2.4Ghz) features on the Access side.

Due to the exploding demand for these high speed (bandwidth intense) services, mentioned above, we will need to deliver a minimum of a 100Mbps to each Gateway (Node) and allow for expansion to multiple 100Mbps links. This will require a direct fiber feed at these Gateway sites which can be provided by a simple hardened Fiber Switch with multiple Ethernet ports.

Video Surveillance network, which will be required by most Public Safety and emergency services crews, will also be able to leverage these Fiber Gateway sites. Without this fiber drop we would need to provide a dedicated Wireless PTMP network assigned to just video, and in many cases lack of LOS, limited bandwidth and Economics limit this solution.

With the above systems and proper design these Wireless Metro Area Mesh Networks will dominate this Last Mile Portable and Mobile wireless space with true Broadband (6-10Mbps/SUb)level links. When combined (thru FMC)with these Cell Carriers and WiMAX (WAN)Wide Area Networks, delivering Narrowband Fixed Mobile COnvergence in the rural and County/State wide areas, using the latest Intel Centrino Pro systems (802.11a/g/n and HSDPA) radios we will have a winner. Note: Recent developments by the radio vendors (Trango and Airspan)will allow us to take advantage of the WIMAX Feature sets with unlicensed 5Ghz radios that can be received and processed by the above Centrino Pro products-No Need for the Licensed 2.5Ghz radios.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 3:10:31 PM
re: We Fade to Grey But if they deployed with the methodology you suggest doesn't that increase costs somewhat? Someone's got to pay for this stuff.

wap545 12/5/2012 | 3:10:16 PM
re: We Fade to Grey Response:
Yes the metholology I proposed will cost more, from the Fiber side. It will also guarantee you a far more robust (carrier grade)Wireless Network that will come close to surviving the demands mentioned in my original post.
The Mesh products do not necessarily have to cost more if one shops for the technology vs picking just a provider or a name.
These 4 & 6 radio Mesh nodes are very competitive with the 1 & 2 Radio nodes being deployed. In addition with the proper design and Gateway support, you will find that when one deploys a Mesh Network with these 1 & 2 Radio Nodes you will have far more nodes per square mile than with a 4 & or 6 node which adds more cost to the formers network. You will also end up with far more gateways as these devices fall short of capacity/bandwidth at each node.

This is why a Muni needs to have a side by side trial between their 2 top choice providers prior to finalizing on a vendor and awarding the contract. This followed by a performance guarantee on the network components for the term.
A good consultant or better yet a specialist in trial networks can help provide a fair trial.
Be leary of those that advise against the above side by side approach for selecting the best Technology.

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