Shopping for the Ideal Wireless Network
A large Mexican retailer with stores across Mexico was looking to provide Internet connectivity to their stores, however connecting all these stores through a local ISP was a very costly expenditure. They made the decision to implement their own network to reduce their dependency on service providers and to solve their communications needs.
The Mexican retail chain is one of the largest department stores in Mexico and is similar to Walmart in the US and Canada. There are more than eight hundred stores in Mexico in 22 provinces.
After looking at several competitive solutions, the customer chose an EION Wireless broadband wireless solution. A wireless network was built to provide communications to stores in cities with two or more locations. The wireless network provided the Internet access they desired, plus important store-to-store communication for data transfer (inventory, mail, reports, invoicing, credit applications, etc.) and the possibility to introduce VoIP.
EION’s Ultima3 and LibraPlus were the products of choice in this application. The EION Wireless products were deployed in a point-to-point configuration with links ranging from 5-15km. The LibraPlus has proven itself to be very cost-effective and suitable to the client’s application so well, that they are extending the EION Wireless solution to more of their locations.
The customer is relying on EION Radios to achieve the inter-connectivity between the stores at the city level with objective to bring all the stores to a central MPLS location in each city. Then all cities are backhauled to the Main Data Centre in Culiacan City at the north of Mexico using MPLS network. So far in the network, the retail giant has deployed more than 2000 Radios from EION distributed all over Mexico. The radios are a mixture of the legacy Ultima3 systems and the next generation EION work horse LibraPlus 5860.
Why the Customer Chose EION
Trial equipment from several different vendors was tested. Reliable performance was the key priority addressed. The EION Wireless solution performed better and the link was more reliable than competitive solutions.
EION’s LibraPlus enables suburban and rural applications with its superior range. Pointto- point and point-to-multipoint applications give your network the flexibility to grow with your business. The superior long range of the LibraPlus without sacrificing throughput performance of the link, make this product the clear choice of our customers. The LibraPlus implements EION’s proprietary TrustLink protocol that reduces the effects of interference and boosts throughput in outdoor wireless networks.
EION Wireless has established a worldwide network of partners to provide customers with very professional and superior levels of service. We rely on the experience of our worldwide channel network to help plan, install and deploy wireless networks and it is objective of EION Wireless to provide our partners with the support and attention they need to be highly successful.
For this deployment EION Wireless collaborated with Gold Channel Partner Sinwire. SINWIRE Inc is headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, with a presence in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, and Brazil. SINWIRE was founded with the vision of providing enterprise customers with the best products and services and a superior level of customer service. The company is committed to providing excellent technical support in fluent Spanish and unbeatable pricing for wireless products throughout all Latin America.
Remote Wireless Access - El Chaco
How Wireless changed a remote Community in the Ecuadorian Amazon
The remote community - El Chaco, Ecuador
El Chaco is a small town about 2 ½ hours east of Quito on the edge of the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest. Its 6ooo inhabitants, who have not left to seek their fortune in Quito or in other countries, earn a living mostly from agriculture or small businesses. El Chaco is neither rich nor poor. Nobody is starving and nobody has riche. The people of EL Chaco have learned to make do with the basics. The same can be said for the town’s infrastructure. The community has schools but they are in a bad state. They have a health station but no hospital and a doctor is often hard to find. Residents have access to the phone but the lines are rare and calls expensive, and of its roads, some are good, mostly bad, sometimes impassable.
The unique features that El Chaco has to offer, (besides the outstanding natural beauty that is so often found in Ecuador), is an oil pipeline running straight through it. The river nearby is a paradise for all kinds of water sports like rafting and kayaking, ranking as one of the best in the world.
Still, despite all this beauty and resources, the community of El Chaco soon came to realize that if it was going to succeed on a global scale, something had to be done. Fundacion ChasquiNet is a small NGO based in Quito Ecuador. The work Chasquinet does can be simply described as supporting the strategic use of the available information and communication technologies in the social sector. It works on a national and international basis with Telecenter, schools, hospitals and other NGO’s.
Over the years, Chasquinet has established an “open door” policy, meaning that Chasquinet will not go into the communities and establish its own projects but waits until the communities come to Chasquinet and ask for support. In this way it is ensured that the work Chasquinet is doing is based on the real needs of the communities and not the needs perceived by Chasquinet for a community. Chasquinet enters a partnership with the communities with the goal of community development. The community of El Chaco was compelled to seek help from Chasquinet.
A call for help
The community of El Chaco recognized that they needed help with their connectivity problems, and to make ICTs work for the social and economic development of the whole community. In 2003 the Canadian International Development Research Center (IDRC) and the Institute for Connectivity in the Americas (ICA) contacted Chasquinet asking if they would be willing and able to pilot Wi-Fi equipment in Ecuador. EION, a Canadian company, was chosen to provide the equipment, which consisted of three Wi-Fi sets with surround coverage of 5 km and one set having an additional 25 km pointto-point extension.
At the same time the community of El Chaco contacted Chasquinet asking Chasquinet not only to help with their connectivity problem, but also to help to make this ICT (Information Communications Technology) work for the social and economic development of the whole community. El Chaco had previous experience with the Internet, consisting of a single computer at a restaurant. The connection was expensive and slow but it had already convinced many residents of El Chaco of the potential of the new ICT’s. There were several fundamental questions and the first question the community was looking to answer was: How can we connect EL Chaco to the Internet in a cost efficient way?
What better place then to test the Wi-Fi Equipment then El Chaco, but installing the equipment is just a small part of a successful project. The most important question that needed answering was: Connectivity for What?
Food for Thought
Social transformation can only come through personal transformation. A series of community meetings were called for and it soon became clear that there were several more questions that needed to be answered, including: How can the Internet help us in our schools, in our local government, in the small and medium enterprises, in the ecology, health services and tourism? How can we make it sustainable not only in a financial but also in a technical, social, cultural and political sense?
In order to find the answers develop a strategic plan for the implementation of the new information and communication technologies, Chasquinet undertook a number of training and planning workshops in El Chaco. The training did not just concentrate on the technical aspects of using computers, but more importantly on the strategic use of these technologies, and the impact they will have on social and economic development within the community. Social transformation can only come through personal transformation, so in addition to the technology-centric workshops a “Healing Touch” workshop was organized for the community. Healing Touch is a medical technique that combines traditional indigenous healing traditions from North and South America. This process proved to be a vital step in the sustainable community development of El Chaco, as it responded to deeply rooted medical and cultural needs of the community. After six month of training and consultations the community came up with their plan how to implement the Internet in El Chaco. The highlights of the plan were:
Creation of a Community Telecenter at a town center managed by a local group.
In the first phase, the Telecenter, the local Government and the Health Center would be connected via Wi-Fi to the Internet.
The Telecenter would not only provide connectivity services to the community but will also offer training - particularly to teachers and pupils, local government officials and local businesses.
In the second phase, other locations such as schools, hotels, businesses, and police station will be connected to the Wi-Fi network, pending training of all users.
Make it work
The plan was immediately put into action. The Telecenter was created and the workshops started and soon the Telecenter was a focal point of the community. But there was still one problem; it was a Telecenter without the “Tele”, without Internet connection. Even if the Wi-Fi could be installed now, it needed to be connected to the Internet. Dial-up and/or any cable-based solution were out of the question due the high costs. A technical investigation was undertaken with the result that a combination between VSAT and Wi-Fi would be the best and most cost effective solution. The installation of the EION Wi-Fi equipment turned out easier then first thought. Everybody involved was nervous to see if this new technology would do what it promised, but after just a day and a half, the Wi-Fi was up and running. Throughout the installation local technicians from the telecenter took part in order to learn how the system worked, to enable it, to maintain it in the future, and to act as “experts” for further installations. El Chaco was now part of the global Internet, and even with only just three initial connection points the impact could be felt immediately.
For the first time teachers and pupils had access to quality teaching materials.
For the first time families could communicate at a low cost with their loved ones working abroad.
For the first time the major and his staff could access relevant governmental resources.
For the first time the nurse could get advice from doctors in Quito.
For the first time traders could offer their goods outside the local market.
Just a few examples from many. As one local women expressed
it: “I feel like El Chaco is for the first time on the map”.
Many remote and underserved communities around the world have the desire and drive to advance both socially and economically in the global arena. Though this need is eminent, basic access to resources, financing and expertise are preventindevelopment in such regions. Through partnerships with government agencies, social development organizations and local groups, many communities like El Chaco are being given the opportunity to excel in the digital revolution. This case study is a perfect example how a relatively simple and economic project can have such an immense impact on a community. Though Wi-Fi, in combination with VSAT technology, can be a cost effective way to connect rural communities, the provision of such technologies will only have an impact if the system is implemented by the respective community and used by them according to their needs. Training, strategic use, and community involvement are more important then the technology itself.
Written by Klaus Stoll, President
– Fundacion ChasquiNet
Quality of Life and Staying Connected
Challenges of the Wholesale ISP Business Model
Mountainous terrain presents a particularly challenging environment in which to deploy broadband communications networks. Difficult geography combined with a low population density tends to limit the options for providing broadband access at rates that are attractive to both consumers and to service providers. The picturesque Wenatchee Valley located next to the rugged, snow capped Cascade Mountains and the mighty Columbia River in Central Washington State offers just such a challenge.
The quality of life available in Central Washington State attracts many entrepreneurs and high tech professionals whose activities require significant bandwidth. Despite having a population of only 40,000 in an area that measures about 7 miles by 10 miles, Washington’s Wenatchee Valley is home to 8 WISPs. All of them use the unlicensed 2.4 GHz radio band. Beginning in 1997, Northwest Telephone (NWT), a wholesale provider to ISPs in Washington State, has combined fibre optic cable with unlicensed wireless solutions to build a network covering about 1,500 square miles in Central and Eastern Washington State including the Wenatchee Valley. NWT’s business model is to build the network, provide the connection to the home or business and sell the bandwidth to ISPs. In turn, ISPs that use the NWT network provide sales and marketing functions as well as first level support.
With 8 ISPs all using the same signal band in a relatively small area, NWT must frequently take steps to try and mitigate radio interference. NWT is the largest carrier in the region and as a result it is also the one with the most to lose due to radio interference problems. Short-term solutions have included using attenuators to knock down the signal strength, employing signal polarization and redirecting antennas to catch side loads. Medium term solutions have included migrating the older areas of the wireless network to the 5.8 GHz band and then transferring the 2.4 GHz equipment to less congested regions. The longterm solution will be to form a consortium of service providers in order to coordinate radio deployments and so reduce radio interference. The end result will be happier customers and less effort expended retuning networks.
NWT currently uses about 200 Wi-LAN legacy radios as CPEs and for backbone transport in order to serve a mix of residential and small business end customers. The typical site consists of 3 sectors fed with a radio, providing an average throughput of about 3.2 Mbps per sector. NWT runs up to 30 CPEs per sector with the typical configuration being about 15 CPEs per sector.
In the future NWT’s strategy for dealing with radio interference will be to build overlapping 2.4 and 5.8 networks. Then, as interference becomes a problem, transition existing customers from 2.4 to 5.8.
The 2.4 radios will eventually be redeployed to cities with populations of less than 10,000 people. The more metropolitan areas will be converted to a 5.8 GHz platform such as EION’s Ultima 3. One of the benefits of EION’s Ultima 3 platform is its all- in-one design, which makes the deployment process fast and simple. The Ultima 3 combines the antenna and radio together eliminating the need to run a large coaxial cable into a customer’s premise.
Whenever possible, NWT tries to keep its installation to the outside of the customer premises. The ideal arrangement is to put a CAT 5 box mounted on the outside, terminate the NWT connection there and have the ISP complete the internal wiring. If NWT needs to, it can unplug the indoor from the outdoor and insert NWT’s own test unit powered by a battery.
NWT’s president Andrew Metcalfe explains, “From our standpoint we need a place to be able to break the connection from the customer’s house and have a remote power system that can plug directly into the radio to do the trouble shooting without ever going into the customer’s premises.” NWT typically puts all base station components into an environmental, airconditioned cabinet. They usually put routers into each base station with typical base station cabinet costs ranging from about 10 to 15 thousand US dollars. NWT typically puts all base station components into an environmental, airconditioned cabinet. They usually put routers into each base station with typical base station cabinet costs ranging from about 10 to 15 thousand US dollars.
While DSL can often be deployed more cheaply than wireless, it suffers from latency much more than wireless does. NWT has found that many people that play games on the Internet prefer wireless connections because of the low latency. Andrew says that NWT’s next move will be to provide VoIP, to any broadband connection in the ecosystem. The most “bang for the buck” for VoIP is expected to come from the wireless system because for the people that are typically outside the core telephone network system, getting extra lines etc. is sometimes impossible or if it is possible it is a lot more expensive than merely adding another telephone VoIP line.
The NWT wireless network is not 100% redundant to thesubscriber. Therefore, radio reliability is extremely important in order ensure maximum customer up time. NWT makes use of Washington State’s extensive fibre optic network wherever possible, utilizing the fibre network to drive Ethernet connections out to base stations so that communities that didn’t have any kind of broadband network before can now get access very quickly for a minimal amount of money.
NWT selected EION radios after a comprehensive comparison of all equipment vendors. As Andrew Metcalfe explains, “We gathered together all the radios available when NWT started up, four vendors in total, and ran a series of tests. Basically, we turned all of the systems on at once and did some interference testing and the Wi-LAN* system was the only system that could maintain a connection through pretty much everything that NWT threw at it while the other systems failed on a regular basis. We also liked the fact that the Wi-LAN product isn’t 802.11b but instead is a proprietary product.”
Andrew feels that proprietary technology makes for a more secure network, something that many businesses are seeking. Andrew also commented that, “The Wi-LAN* error interface seems to be more rugged than other equipment. This along with Wi-LAN’s* excellent customer support and easy access to the engineering department were more than enough reasons to select equipment of this company.”
GSWAN Case Study
Gujarat State government implements an extensive wireless network to link government offices.
Gujarat state covers 196 thousand square kilometers and its government provides administration and services to over 48 million people.
This daunting task has been made easier with the recent implementation of a wireless communications system that provides voice, video conferencing and WAN data services between government offices.
The Gujarat State Wide Area Network, or GSWAN was initiated to enhance communications between various offices located in major centers throughout the state. The objective was to provide voice, video and data services to and between State, District and ultimately Taluka level offices.
After a through engineering investigation, EION’s VIP 110-24 Broadband Wireless System was chosen for this project. The high performance and versatility of the system was a significant factor. “Perhaps the decisive factor in the selection of the VIP 110-24 was its VINE technology”, said Terry Wasson of EION Inc. “The structured NLOS capabilities coupled with the repeater functionality made this radio very attractive in this application.” The network diagram for Ahmedabad is shown below. It is one of 25 cities in the fully deployed network. It consists of 19 nodes and connects Police, Courts, and many other government offices together. This type of communications abilities greatly enhances the Government’s ability to carry out it’s duties and responsibilities.
Damascus University Private WAN
Damascus University is the largest university in Syria with twenty four campuses spreading across the City of Damascus, the capital of Syria. Dating back to the beginning of the last century, Damascus University is one of the most important centres of Arab culture in the Middle East. The Ministry of Higher Education (MHE) is the ministry in Syria, who is the governing body of all universities in Syria, including the Damascus University.
Damascus University has twenty-four campuses scattered throughout the City of Damascus. The university required a private network between all the sites to share information as well as provide Internet access together with the MHE in Damascus. The large distances between all the sites meant that connecting all the sites with the conventional wire infrastructure would be prohibitively expensive.
Delivering up to 12 Mbps, EION’s Ultima 3 can provide broadband coverage up to 16 km (10 miles) to 1000 Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) from a single Access Point (AP), or up to 75km (45 miles) in point to point operation. The products offer network features such as VLAN, CIR and MBR. The Ultima 3 radios simplify installation and management even further with the unique PDA quick start operation and GUI interface.
EION’s products were chosen for this project as a result of their security, range, reliability and cost-effectiveness. Syrian Data Systems (SDS) was asked to provide the complete network solution. A backhaul link from a local Internet Service Provider (ISP) to the MHE was established. Then a Point-to-Multipoint system connected all campus sites to the MHE. The Ultima 3 MP was the ideal multipoint solution as some of the sites are as far as 16 kilometers (or 10 miles).
EION’s innovative wireless solution ensured rapid deployment of the network needed by both the Ministry of Higher Education and the University of Damascus. Within their private WAN network, the MHE and all campuses can exchange information quickly and easily. In addition both the MHE and the University of Damascus now enjoy the connectivity to the world through EION’s Ultima 3.
EION StarPlus Beats the Competition in Co-location Interference Tests
EION had the opportunity to demonstrate the superior abilities of TrustLink Technology to combat interference in direct head-to-head tests against the competition. These tests were performed by one of our customers in a live deployment scenario in a densely populated area. As much as possible this test re-created real life conditions where multiple products from different vendors could be co-located on the same tower. In the testing, EION StarPlus products were pitted against products we will call “Competitor-A” and “Competitor-B” in a series of interference tests.
TrustLink is a technology developed by EION Wireless for the delivery of high throughput, outdoor, multimedia rich applications in the unlicensed band. TrustLink Technology provides interference mitigation, increased system performance, low latency and Quality of Experience. EION’s StarPlus family of products use TrustLink exclusively to deliver highly reliable broadband communications.
The main objective of these tests was for our customer to observe the link stability of EION Wireless products when contending with interference from competitor radios.
For the head-to-head testing, EION base stations were co-located alongside the competitor base station products on the same pole. Similarly all the CPEs were mounted at the same location at the other side of the link, also on the same pole.
The link distance between the base stations and CPEs was 1000 meters, and the EIRP was set to a maximum of +36 dBm on all equipment. For these tests, the operating channel chosen was 5845 MHz.
For each test, the radios were made operational on the same channel so that they would intentionally interfere with each other. The initial test was to verify if a link could be established with both radios operational in standby mode. Then once a link was made operational, traffic was passed between the base station and the CPE in order to test the performance of the link under interference conditions.
Based on the results of the head-to-head testing, EION was able to clearly demonstrate the superior interference handling capabilities of StarPlus with TrustLink technology when faced with interference from competing technologies. This capability enables customers to be confident of the reliability and performance of EION products when deployed in densely populated urban environments where multiple sources of destructive interference are present.
Secure Wireless Backhaul
The Wireless Networking Landscape
A department in the Canadian Federal Government had a security requirement for a large amount of data to be networked as part of a new surveillance and monitoring system. Engineers working on the project were tasked with finding a solution that was cost effective, provided adequate throughput, and met the strict security requirements of the federal government. This paper tells the story of how the right combination of experience and equipment led to the successful deployment of several wireless backhaul links in a city environment.
The Canadian Government is a large and experienced purchaser. In 2004 they issued more than 42,000 contract documents worth a total of $16.8 billion. Of that budget, over $500 million was devoted to IT services such as; messaging services handling some two million messages per month, mobile and fixed satellite services to 30 departments across Canada, and telecommunications network services to virtually all departments and agencies in the government. The Canadian government lists security and privacy as key priorities in all of their IT services.
A large amount of data for a security system covering multiple branch locations needed to be linked to a central command centre. The high-bandwidth data consisted of the following applications:
Live feed from high-resolution video cameras
Pan, Zoom, Tilt control for video cameras
Motion Sensor reporting
Smoke Detector and Fire Protection System feedback
The primary requirement for this project was a solution that had the required security to handle a large amount of sensitive data. In addition to the security requirement, the solution needed to guarantee the required real-time throughput for all applications, during all environmental conditions - even a Canadian Winter. The engineering team working on this project had to find a solution that was:
Along with the installed network, the customer requested a detailed system performance report clearly demonstrating that the system capacity was met.
Easy to Install
The team working on this project first compared the cost of leasing a line from a telecom carrier with the cost of purchasing wireless backhaul equipment. Examining the primary requirement - security- the wireless solution presented many advantages over a leased line. By purchasing a wireless system, the government would have complete control over the network and would be able to achieve 100% isolation from; other government departments, public carriers, the Internet, and even their own internal network. Although wireless backhaul systems operate on the unlicensed spectrum, proprietary transport protocols make the unwanted interception of data almost impossible. For increased security the data can be further encrypted using AES or other encryption methods. Taking cost into consideration the team determined that a leased line would cost approximately twice as much per month as the entire wireless system would cost to purchase. Purchasing the equipment would be a one time expenditure and would give the user complete end-to-end control of their network. Since broadband wireless equipment operates in the unlicensed radio spectrum, no registration is required to operate, and radio deployment can be completed in hours. Comparing the wired vs. wireless options, it was easy for the team to see that the best solution, taking into account; total cost, ease of installation and security, would be a wireless backhaul system operating in the unlicensed band.
EION Wireless was selected as the equipment provider for the backhaul requirement of the surveillance and monitoring network in cooperation with partner, FirstComm Wireless. EION Wireless is a global provider of broadband wireless equipment and has a strong reputation for supplying rugged wireless solutions. EION has a deep knowledge of wireless networks and possesses the technical competency required by the government to provide and qualify the network. The network would need to backhaul data from three branch sites to one central command centre located in the downtown core. Detailed site surveying confirmed that it would be impossible to transmit data directly point-to-point to each branch site, since high-rise office buildings in the downtown core were blocking the line of sight. A plan was developed placing the radio links avoiding this area. This plan, shown in Figure 1, routes the data from sites 1 and 2 through site 3. Two products from the EION Rugged Wireless Communications
Solution were selected to accomplish the communications tasks; two pairs of EION Ranger 5110 for the lower bandwidth links and two pairs of EION Ranger 5050 for the high capacity links. The EION Ranger 5110 is a complete and robust wireless 5.8 GHz Pointto- Point system that provides a transparent Layer-2 bridge to link two points. Each unit consists of a high-gain antenna and radio integrated into a rugged outdoor enclosure delivering 23 dBm of power to the antenna. Because the radio is located next to the antenna, extending the Ethernet cable does not affect the operating range - simplifying deployment options. EION’s Ranger 5050 Wireless Bridge is capable of delivering up to 28 Mbps of throughput with a range of up to 15 km. This range can be further extended by the use of external antennas. Multiple security mechanisms built in to the unit protect enterprise privacy. The Ranger 5050 incorporates hardware and software features that reduce labour costs associated with initial deployment and post-sales maintenance. Temperatures in the installed region can regularly fall below -30° C in the winter, making a robust solution very important in this project. The Ranger 5050 and Ranger 5110 are both engineered for rugged and reliable outdoor operation.
Prior to installation EION performed extensive testing in order to be confident that the customer would be presented with a complete working solution that satisfied all the requirements of the project. The results of these tests have been published in a separate EION report titled ‘Performance Study: Ranger Wireless Bridges.’ Before delivery, all equipment was pre-configured in EION labs to allow for straightforward installation on-site by FirstComm Wireless.
FirstComm Wireless prepared the sites with pole mounts for the radios using different configurations, including non-penetrating roof mounts depending on the building requirements. Special permission had to be obtained by the installation team to access the roof of each building. This approval process ended up being the most time consuming portion of the installation and the limiting factor in the installation timeline.Once the sites had been prepared, it took approximately two hours to install each Ranger unit, fine-tune the frequency, channels and antenna alignment for optimum operating efficiency. During the installation the Ranger 5050 links encountered some initial interference due to existing 5.8 GHz equipment operating in the area. This issue was easily resolved by configuring the Ranger 5050 links to transmit at a frequency not occupied by the interference.
In qualifying the network for the customer, EION exceeded the specifications, delivering 24 Mbps TCP/IP throughput for each Ranger 5050 link and 13 Mbps TCP/IP throughput for each Ranger 5110 link.
EION equipment was able to fully satisfy the security, bandwidth and reliability requirements of this project; with the flexibility for future expansion of the network. The Canadian Government was provided with a secure, rugged wireless network that is fully operational in all environmental conditions. EION provided the professional services required to prepare a detailed performance report that confirmed all of the project requirements were met. The expertise that EION brought to the project meant that the right equipment was selected and pre-configured for straightforward on-site deployment.
Ranger 5050 and Ranger 5110 met the needs of the project
System is fully scalable for future growth
EION Professional Services provided key information and support
FirstComm & EION partnership resulted in customer satisfaction