Gregg Nobel loves wireless Internet. He talks about technologies such as MIMO (Multiple-In, Multiple Out) that will help him deliver high speed, broadband Internet services through the northeast with refreshing enthusiasm. Gregg shows feverish dedication to ensuring fellow residents and children of the state have an equal chance to compete with the Koreans, Scandinavians, and Virginians who may currently hold an advantage due to ubiquitous access to high speed broadband Internet.
Is it WiMax that will hold the answer? LTE? 802.11n?
Not important. The important thing is to lay the pipe needed to accomplish his objective of leaving no Massachusettsan, Vermonter, Connecticuter, or New Hampshirite behind in the race for achieving the American dream.
Gregg is the Business Development Manager for GAW (Great Auk Wireless) High-Speed Internet, a wireless infrastructure provider based in Vermont. They not only aggressively deliver high-speed broadband to towns offering a good opportunity for revenues, they also work with local communities and municipalities to bring easy access to high speed Internet to rural communities and areas not easily served by cable or telephone utilities.
US Internet Wireless in Minneapolis has a similar approach. Working with the city, USI Wireless is deploying high speed Internet services from a central location atop the IDS Tower in downtown Minneapolis. As USI Wireless has good line of sight from the tower, it deployed 55x 80 Megabits per second “DragonWave” antenna systems in an omni-directional pattern. Network traffic is backhauled to the 511 Building in downtown Minneapolis, which is a small carrier hotel with around 30 networks present for interconnection.
The city of Minneapolis supports USI Wireless with an arrangement allowing them to access city-owned conduits and access points throughout the city to allow further expansion of their wireless infrastructure. Additional wireless access point
Discussions with the USI Wireless representative at IT Expo West in Los Angeles this week revealed some additional interesting points. While we might believe that wireless access is most attractive to yuppies and higher income demographics, the reality is most of their subscribers are inner-city and under-privileged children from the urban centers in north Minneapolis.
This demographic was reinforced by Rudy Garza, a education and community services advocate from South Gate (an urban center in S.E. Los Angeles). Mr. Garza agreed that having wireless broadband access within an under privileged community can only help give kids one more tool that may push them over the fence post on the side of a more productive life than otherwise probable without Internet access.
How it is done
There are several competing standards for wireless network access. The most common, 802.11n (WiFi), is most well known as being the type wireless access point most people are now putting into their homes and offices. 802.11n wireless access points incorporate internal MOSI (Multiple out, Single In) antennas, allowing the wireless device to transmit several different wireless signals, and the end user devices will be able to choose the most optimal signal from those transmitted from the access point.
802.11n does support MIMO (Multiple In, Multiple Out) signaling, however today most end user devices are not set up with multiple antennas. Today 802.11n access points can easily transmit at bandwidths up to 70Mbps up to around 300ft. From that point the signal begins to degrade, and access speeds will drop.
With full MIMO deployment 802.11n will support single capacity streams of up to 600Mbps per access device.
In a city deployment using 802.11n you can easily expect to support around 150 users with reasonable internet access speeds, although not at bandwidth adequate to handle applications like television and high speed video. The answer is with correct city funding, or subscriber fees, more antennas and access point can be deployed to increase the amount of bandwidth available for each end device, as well as extend coverage to more locations. However the bottom line with 802.11n is you still have some level of limitation on distance and the number of supportable subscribers.
WiMAX is an alternative to WiFi, although in general much more expensive. Many networks are considering deployment of WiMAX, which also can take advantage of MIMO. The most well known networks in the US using WiMAX are those deployed by Sprint and Clearwire (now merged). Both have extensive networks, and in the case of Sprint the deployment is supported through use of their existing cellular towers, and high capacity fiber optic lines for backhaul of wireless internet traffic to Sprint’s central offices.
LTEa and 4G
Other than Sprint, in the US most carriers are considering a phased deployment of LTEa (Long Term Evolution – advanced) and 4G (4th Generation Wireless) throughout their existing cellular networks. Most of these companies are currently using the cellular EV-DO (Evolution – Data Optimized), which will be supplemented and then replaced by more powerful LTEa and 4G wireless systems.
LTEa will allow for 100Mbps in individual devices which are moving or mobile, and up to 1Gbps for stationary devices. When the LTEa/4G networks are fully deployed, nearly any device which can access a wireless network may be able to use the new wireless standard. LTEa/4G can take full advantage of MIMO, and further allow end user devices to aggregate bandwidth being transmitted from multiple antennas, and antenna sources. Devices will also become available with multiple antennas embedded in the device, such as telephone handsets built with multiple antennas within the handset.
Perhaps the most exicting thing about further development of MIMO, LTEa/4G, more powerful WiFi, and even WiMAX, is that the bandwidth and access speeds will soon be high enough to support everything from HD-TV to high performance Internet access, regardless if in a city or rural environment.
In the Meantime…
It will take until 2015 for companies such as Verizon to fully deploy their next generation wireless networks. In the meantime we will still look to companies like GAW and USI Wireless to continue bringing broadband Internet access to both the countryside, as well as inner-city areas. We need to support their efforts, and efforts of those like GAW and USI Wireless who are working to deliver network access in the towns of Iowa, New Mexico, the south side of Chicago, or any other place our fellow citizens need network access.
John Savageau, Long Beach