Home Latin America 2006 The future of wireless connections

The future of wireless connections

by david.nunes
Juan ChicoIssue:Latin America 2006
Article no.:12
Topic:The future of wireless connections
Author:Juan Chico
Organisation:Nortel Brazil
PDF size:196KB

About author

Juan Chico is the President of Nortel Brazil. Prior to assuming this position, he led Nortel’s enterprise business in the Caribbean and Latin America region. Previously, he served as the Director of the Partnership & Enterprise Group for Microsoft Corporation in the Caribbean. Before Microsoft, Juan Chico was Regional Sales Director for Nortel in the Caribbean, a position that he held for seven years, and worked for Abbott Labs administering the company’s data, voice and video networks. Juan Chico holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus, and has more than 15 years’ experience in network computing environments.

Article abstract

WiMesh and WiMax are the next generation of wireless high-speed communications. WiMAX provides long-range (up to 50km) wireless broadband with velocities far superior to those of traditional wireless technologies. WiMesh inexpensively links together a great many WiFi hotspots into a single ‘hot zone’. The traffic hops from one WiFi node to another until it reaches its destination. Wireless mesh networks can be built from off-the-shelf hardware and, since they automatically route traffic around busy or faulty nodes, they are self-repairing.

Full Article

When we begin to consider the ways to apply WiMAX and WiMesh solutions, there are so many possibilities that we probably cannot even begin to imagine the endless ways of using them. Overall, even though we have already come a long way, we know that this evolution will not stop anytime soon. Today, these two technologies are taken to be the next mobile generation of high-speed communications. WiMAX, according to market analysts, is becoming an investment priority for large companies and WiMesh has helped extend public wireless Internet access to ‘hot zones’, with coverage way beyond WiFi’s popular hot spots. WiMAX technology was developed to provide wireless broadband with velocities far superior to those of traditional wireless technologies, and with much greater coverage than that offered by current WLAN, wireless local area network, solutions such as WiFi (802.11). WiMAX, however, was developed to give the same type of access as WiFi at much more accessible prices, but with coverage of much larger areas and a reach of dozens of kilometers. Simply put, WiFi has high bandwidth but only short distance coverage, and current cellular systems offer distance but not high bandwidth. WiMAX offers both long distance coverage and high bandwidth, providing its users with uninterrupted mobile access to a wide variety of high bandwidth services, while they move between their offices, homes, stores, airports and hotels. WiMAX is a high-speed technology that offers a viable, cost-effective solution in areas where there is no cable or DSL connectivity. According to market analysts, WiMAX is one of the ten principal technologies that will change the way we live. This technology will give broadband wireless access a quality comparable to DSL, and provide mobility for applications that are large bandwidth users, such as digital music streaming and video surveillance. These technological resources are starting to become available through service providers all over the world, and their use will be broadly distributed within a period of three to five years as new laptops and other devices incorporating the two technologies, WiFi and WiMAX, reach the market. WiMesh already has the capacity to offer secure wireless coverage, inside as well as outside of buildings, throughout an entire urban area or across extensive campus areas. It can also be set up quickly enough to provide an important wireless service backup during urban emergency situations. Although WiMesh supports high-speed communications, its objective is not to be a substitute for services provided by cellular telephones, which give national coverage and even roaming around the world. Wireless Mesh is a local network, and although it can offer coverage to a large urban area with a good cost-benefit relationship, it is not practical for transmitting services beyond a given local region. Comparing WiMesh to WiFi, one finds the two technologies are very similar, but WiMesh extends the capacity of WiFi, which is generally limited to small – about 100 feet – internal areas, and provides wireless access throughout large internal or external areas. The WiFi hot-spot of the sort one readily finds at many coffee houses, for example, transmits through an access point generally installed in the ceiling, with an approximate reach of 500 feet (170 metres). When you leave the café, the connection from this access point is lost. Wireless Mesh connects multiple access points, distributed without cables in a wireless network or hot zone, providing quite broad coverage in closed environments as well as open areas. Its access points can be placed on lampposts, the side walls of a building or in any place where there is a connection to an electrical power source to support the node. Since this network uses the same communications standard as WiFi – the 802.11b standard – standard laptops, or handhelds configured for WiFi, need no other software or hardware to access any mesh network. Because of the reliable and secure coverage it gives within a local area, mesh technology appears to be an excellent alternative for high-speed mobile communications in emergency situations. The grid is self repairing; it restores itself, which means it is automatically reconfigured in case some access point is deactivated. In this way, the network continues to function even if some parts of it are destroyed or inactivated. This sort of network is also known as an ‘ad hoc’ network because it allows the inclusion of new access points with little or no manual intervention, allowing their rapid repair or broadening of coverage in a disaster or emergency situation. If there is no wireless mesh network in the area, it is possible to install one in a few hours after an event such as a hurricane, a tornado, or other major emergency. One of the features that sets WiMesh apart is the intelligence incorporated in the network, this offers a very high degree of reliability, which is essential in emergencies. As soon as an access point is installed and turned on, it ‘discovers’ other WiFi points and automatically configures itself to assume the role it plays in the network. In this way, it is not necessary for a person to re-programme the network – a fundamental feature if it is to begin to operate quickly. After the network is already functioning, it manages itself through its ‘self-restoring’ functions and ‘self-adaptation.’ If an access point is deactivated or a part of the network becomes overloaded, the network instantaneously redirects the traffic to other points, avoiding a break in communications. Another very important feature of the wireless mesh network is its potential quickly to spread and cover broader areas and its ability to provide quickly and inexpensively broadband access for mobile users. Installation of a mesh network can cost up to 75 per cent less than a cable network, because it does not require a lot of wiring or infrastructure. WiMesh provides an extremely versatile solution that fills a special, quite important niche and meets a growing demand for wireless broadband access anywhere, at any time.

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