Article courtesy of SmartBridges.com
Interfering signals from external radio frequency (RF) can be a real bugbear in wireless deployments. RF interference may cause wireless stations to wait for indefinite periods of time, from minutes to days, until the interfering signal goes away. This leads to delays, unhappy users and eventually the erosion of profitability for wireless ISPs.
Mr. Joe Laura , founder and CEO for U.S.-based wireless ISP Superior Wireless, is fully aware of the impact and cost of RF interference. RF interference, which arises from the growing popularity of the wireless industry, was beginning to affect the reliability of Superior Wireless' network. Superior Wireless, together with their partners Hunt Brothers and Catcomm, worked collectively to identify RF interference issues and improve network robustness. Jointly, they have begun to make their wide area networks (WANs) more robust to handle RF interference.
Superior Wireless took their first step in overcoming RF interference and improving their backhaul infrastructure by replacing their existing links with smartBridges' airHaul Nexus. With the ability to choose the operating frequency (2.4 Ghz or 5.2 ~5.8 Ghz) and channel (27 non-overlapping channels), Superior Wireless is the first wireless ISP in the state of Louisiana to implement the next generation of intelligent network architecture.
Mr. Joe Laura has been in the security industry since 1982. In 1999, Mr. Laura advanced from the alarm business to remote digital video surveillance. Although this change increased the value proposition to his clients, the limited upload speed from DSL connections and expensive T1 connections made it extremely difficult for Mr. Laura to stream video images through the Internet.
Together with his partners, the Hunt Brothers, Mr. Laura set up his first point-of-presence and soon entered into the wireless ISP business with the incorporation of Superior Wireless. From this humble beginning, Superior Wireless has diversified its business from the surveillance market to the wireless broadband market by connecting conferences, hotels, coffee shops and office buildings. Currently, there are over 600 wireless subscribers in the immediate New Orleans area and this number is growing steadily.
Deployment Scenario and Objective
Three years ago, Superior Wireless was called in to improve Internet access for an eight-storey office building (with over 40 offices) that only had dial up access. By shooting a 5MBps wireless Trango link to the office building, Superior Wireless was able to provide adequate bandwidth for users.
However, over the next few weeks, the demand for higher bandwidth began to put a strain on the existing backhaul infrastructure. In addition to the bandwidth demands, Superior Wireless also began to experience interference issues with the existing link. It was clear for Superior Wireless to upgrade their backhaul if they wanted to provide superior connectivity.
Their key objective was to cost effectively deploy long-distance point-to-point links that could support real data throughput of 10 Mbps.
The biggest challenge for Superior Wireless was to get cost-effective backhaul connections to remote areas. However, most backhaul products in the market used licensed bands and proprietary technology, making it expensive to implement and inconvenient to change.
Other challenges included carrier-class reliability and RF interference mitigation. In the past, direct lightning strikes had cost Superior Wireless an estimated $12,000 worth of equipment damages. Fortunately, with help from their partners, Catcomm (catcomm.net), Superior Wireless was able to provide continued service by relocating their deployments and sharing rooftops with Catcomm (rooftops have less likelihood of lightning strikes as compared to towers).
“One of the neat things about the WISP business is that even our competitors are willing to help with problems,'' said Mr. Laura. “Everyone helps each other and has to work together to avoid interference. RF interference involves the presence of unwanted, interfering RF signals that disrupt normal system operations. In 2.4 GHz 802.11b wireless LANs, the lack of proper channel selection with that of your neighbour can cause interference. I remember learning about this in the first WISPCON I attended. The WISPCONs are really great learning place. In my opinion, this is a great business to be in.”