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A Brief Guide to Wireless Networking Solutions

Brief Guide to Point-to-Point Wireless Networking Solutions

Wireless, Point-to-Point Ethernet Bridges can connect two remote locations together to create a network link allowing large organisations to single users to share valuable data where it is required without the costly infrastructure issues involving cabling. With the evolution of Point-to-Point backhaul technology, it has become a viable way of creating network links in competition with leased lines, being easier and quicker to deploy.

Offering speeds from a couple of Mbps to more than a Gbps over ranges up to, typically, 10km, Point-to-Point links can give bandwidth intensive businesses and operations a way to transfer network data. Listed below are a few examples of how Point-to-Point Ethernet Bridges can be utilised:

  • Bridge between LAN-to-LAN connections in a city between buildings that need to have reliable, high throughput networks
  • Bridge between WLAN-to-WLAN connections on campuses at Fast Ethernet or Gigabit Ethernet speeds to cater for many subscribers simultaneously
  • Create a wireless link across an area in which you do not have physical access to
  • Service Provider backhaul to carry large amounts of data between the client network areas and the core network
  • Quickly re-establish high-speed network connections after incidents (i.e. disaster recovery)
  • Redundancy systems to provide fall back, fail safes for critical operations that require network access

Popular Point-to-Point Technology Comparisons

Technology

Maximum Data Rates

Typical Ranges

Security

Cost

2.4GHz RF Signal 2 - 600mbps Up to 250m Low £
5.8GHz RF Signal 2 - 600mbps Up to 250m Low ££
Millimetre Wave RF Signal 100Mbps - 1.25Gbps Up to 10km Very High £££££
Free Space Optics 100Mbps - 1.25Gbps Up to 2km High ££££

Brief Guide to Point-to-Multipoint Wireless Networking Solutions

Wireless, Point-to-Multipoint links can create scalable, interference-resistant networks that have the capacity to work with many static or mobile end points whilst offering high bandwidth speeds allowing subscribers to connect to the same network across varying locations.

From small building WLANs to large, bandwidth intensive Metro Networks, Point-to-Multipoint solutions come in all sizes catering for a multitude of situations including:

  • Campus networks allowing connectivity to the computer network from all around the location area indoors or outdoors, in computer labs to a Wi-Fi access spot in a café
  • Government, operators and ISPs that are deploying large hotspots and citywide wireless networks to access internet services
  • Businesses connecting remote office buildings to a main office hub with network and internet access
  • Last-mile broadband extension for Wireless Internet Service Provision in areas where broadband is not available through conventional means

The 5GHz frequency band is popular for Point-to-Multipoint applications as it is industry proven, has good range and bandwidth characteristics in indoor and outdoor environments but there are also other frequencies that are used such as 900MHz, 3GHz and 6GHz, to name a few, that can be used to suit more specific situations.

Example: 5.8GHz Point-to-Multipoint Transmitter - 100+Mbps, 10+km range, connect to up to 300 subscriber units.

Brief Guide to Indoor Wi-Fi Wireless Networking Solutions

Essentially a small scale Point-to-Multipoint system, an Indoor Wi-Fi network allows users to access WLAN networks and wireless broadband coverage throughout an indoor environment such as an enterprise business, an industrial space such as a warehouse or a medical facility or a Small-Office-Home-Office building.

By connecting through a central access point, subscribers can gain access to the network from any location within the coverage area of the access point when static or mobile at real world throughput speeds of up to around 150Mbps at ranges up to 100m. Speeds and range depends heavily on the interior structure and layout of the building as signal has to propagate through walls and other objects. Common applications include:

  • Business WLANs that can offer network connectivity throughout the building to give employees the ability to access shared data
  • Indoor Hotspots in cafés, shopping centres, event halls and cinemas etc.
  • Industrial WLANs to allow devices to communicate with each other in warehouse environments
  • Home WLANs to provide internet access in every room

Popular Indoor Wi-Fi Technology Comparison

Technology

Maximum Data Rates

Typical Ranges

Security

Cost

2.4GHz RF Signal Up to 600Mbps Up to 70m Low £
5.8GHz RF Signal Up to 600Mbps Up to 70m Low ££

5GHz signal diminishes quicker with increased range and thus 2.4GHz networks should have better range, however, 5GHz equipment has much higher permitted transmitter power levels to combat this issue and in some cases 5GHz may even have better range.

Brief Guide to Outdoor Wi-Fi Wireless Networking Solutions

Outdoor Wi-Fi networks are very similar to their Indoor counterparts but with a few differences that validate their outdoor branding, these can be:

  • Weather proof construction
  • Higher power built-in amplifiers in their radios
  • Support for WDS
  • Support for proprietary wireless bridging protocols that use frame aggregation schemes to make more efficient use of long range wireless links
  • Support for Power over Ethernet so you don't have to run AC cabling on outdoor mountings

These common differences in the outdoor Access Point devices allow wireless networks to be offered in outdoor environments over long ranges. The can provide wireless connectivity to the following popular applications:

  • Campus Hotspots providing connectivity outdoors for subscribers to access the campus networks and internet services
  • Small building to building Wi-Fi bridge to offer short range Point-to-Point network connectivity
  • Outdoor Ethernet extensions for business areas such as construction sites, container ports and loading bays or recreation areas such as golf courses, marinas and camp sites.

Popular Outdoor Wi-Fi Technology Comparison

Technology

Maximum Data Rates

Typical Ranges

Security

Cost

2.4GHz RF Signal Up to 600Mbps Up to 250m Low £
5.8GHz RF Signal Up to 600Mbps Up to 250m Low ££

Outdoor Wi-Fi networks can work in tandem with Indoor Wi-Fi networks to provide coverage and connectivity over very large areas both inside and outside buildings. These are evident in places such as universities.

Brief Guide to Mesh Wireless Networking Solutions

Wireless Mesh Networking is a cost effective way of providing wireless connectivity easily over a large area using wireless mesh “nodes” to communicate between each other to spread the network. Traditional Wi-Fi networks rely on a small number of wired access points to provide Hotspots for users to connect to whereas with Mesh Networks, there only has be at least one node connected to a wired, Ethernet connection with the other nodes connecting to it through neighbouring nodes.

Data travels across the network from one point to another by hopping wirelessly from one mesh node to the other. The nodes automatically determine the quickest and most reliable path in the process known as dynamic routing, switching paths and re-providing connectivity if one fails.

Popular applications of Mesh Networks include:

  • City wide, Government owned network allows emergency and public services to remain connected to their respective networks at all times in all locations
  • College and University wide mesh networks offer contiguous connectivity throughout campus, providing internet access and intranet outdoors and also indoors
  • Hospitality and Healthcare mesh networks can be installed throughout large buildings providing internet and network access to staff and clients when conventional Wi-Fi networks would have trouble navigating complex structure layouts
  • Temporary mesh networks can be created at events or at construction sites to provide network connectivity for staff and security workers

Some mesh devices can act as repeaters and access points at the same time allowing subscribers gain internet and network access whilst the connection is also being sent to other mesh nodes on a different frequency to allow more clients to connect elsewhere. This means that these specific mesh devices operate with two radios, one to controller the data traffic flow and one to provide the network service to other node branches. These two radios operate on different frequencies, usually either 900MHz, 2.4GHz and 5GHz.

Brief Guide to 3G Cellular Wireless Networking Solutions

3G is a cellular based networking service that transmits data to a receiver by RF signal from large transmitter towers managed by telecommunications providers. This provides very long range, mobile broadband capabilities when a device can access the 3G service, either via an in-built module or through the use of an external 3G router or modem. Much like a conventional router, multiple devices can connect to higher end 3G routers that can give bandwidth speeds, currently, up to 56Mbps.

Internet access is reliant on your provider’s 3G coverage and VPN (Virtual Private Networks) can be set up to create remote networks between multiple computers. Common applications include:

  • Mobile Broadband access for devices that need connectivity in remote areas
  • Network access in vehicles that need to communicate between each other and a central location
  • Network creation via a VPN between multiple users when there is no conventional internet access

3G devices need a SIM card with a valid subscription to operate and services are usually charged on a pay-as-you-surf basis where the more you use (download or upload) the more it will cost.

Brief Guide to Cloud Computing Wireless Networking Solutions

Cloud Computing is a concept whereby instead of purchasing hardware and networking infrastructure at a high capital expenditure, you simply outsource your computing resources to another company by renting the hardware and/or software from a service provider and gain access to them via the internet. This gives the added benefit of not having to deal with the maintenance and management technicalities of looking after network servers etc. but instead connect to and open software and networked files through your internet browser. The secure network servers that host these services are referred to as, "The Cloud."

The main users of cloud computing are businesses who want to outsource their networking infrastructure either for expenditure reasons, ease of maintenance or for reliability.

There are various benefits when using a Cloud network rather than a conventional, in-house network. These include:

  • Expenditure can be reduced expenditure which can lower barriers for large scale network creation, as infrastructure and remote hardware is typically provided by the service provider and does not need to be purchased
  • The management of cloud computing applications is easier because they do not have to be installed on every computer using the network as they are hosted on the cloud servers
  • No in-house technical knowledge is required as all hardware maintenance is dealt with by your provider

Brief Guide to Custom Wi-Fi Wireless Networking Solutions

4Gon also supplies the individual components necessary for you to build your own, custom Wireless Networking hardware. Depending on the components and software used, you can build units that can function in exactly the same way as pre-built Point-to-Point links, Access Points, Mesh Nodes and more but with the ability to choose specific hardware that suits your every need. Most of the components operate on the 802.11 a/b/g/n standards at either 2.4GHz or 5GHz but there are also a range of those that operate on other more specialist frequencies such as 700MHz, 900MHz, 3GHz and 4GHz, just to name a few, that may be more suited to your application.

By building your own Custom Wireless Networking hardware, you get a product that is tailor made to your needs and in some cases can cost less than a similar, pre-built option.

A common build would consist of:

  • Router board
  • At least 1 radio card if router board does not have integrated radio module
  • Pigtail cable with socket attached to each radio card or integrated module if needed
  • External Antenna if required
  • PoE (Power over Ethernet) Injector
  • Enclosure (weatherproof if outdoors)
  • Mounting kit (pole mount, rack mount etc.)
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