Managed WIFI / Wireless Technology Deep Dive – Nexigen Managed Wifi, Wireless Security, Wireless Technologies, WIFI Standards, LPWAN,
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Managed WIFI / Wireless Technology Deep Dive

Wireless to Managed WIFI to Smart City Kiosks

History of Wireless Communication

When you are talking about the history of wireless communication I believe Tesla has to be front and center.  Tesla was not deemed the first to introduce wireless but he sure was in the field around the time of introduction in its early stages.   Tesla is also a personal favorite of this period.

tesla wireless innovator

tesla wireless innovator

When you talk wireless you are talking about communications and it brings up one of my favorite people in history.   Nikola Tesla is now popularized by current invention great Elon Musk.  Tesla now has the world’s finest electric car named after him.   In the past, Tesla has been rarely discussed and or accredited with major technological advancements. In America, we are taught about the most famous of all inventors such as Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Guglielmo Marconi and Benjamin Franklin, but unfortunately, a lot of our population still have no clue as to why Nikola Tesla is just as important as the other investors.

You cannot really say enough about that mustache or his work!   While working on his many technologies Tesla touched the field of wireless communications.  Early examples of Tesla’s work would be wireless telegraphy for transmission of Morse code by radio and wireless telephony which is when voice or music signals is sent. These two wireless technologies helped to satisfy an increasing need and desire for communication improvements.

original wifi

WIFI wireless

Definition of Wireless Communication – Source Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless

“Wireless communication is the transfer of information or power between two or more points that are not connected by an electrical conductor. The most common wireless technologies use the radio. With radio waves, distances can be short, such as a few meters for television or as far as thousands or even millions of kilometers for deep-space radio communications. It encompasses various types of fixed, mobile, and portable applications, including two-way radios, cellular telephones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and wireless networking. Other examples of applications of radio wireless technology include GPS units, garage door openers, wireless computer mice, keyboards and headsets, headphones, radio receivers, satellite television, broadcast television and cordless telephones.”

One of the first wireless technologies to be patented is the photophone.  The photophone (later given the alternate name radiophone) was a telecommunications device which allowed for the transmission of voice on a beam of light. This original wireless device was invented jointly by Alexander Graham Bell and his assistant Charles Sumner Tainter in 1880 at one of Bell’s laboratories.

Introduction of the (Wireless) Radio

The term “wireless” came into public use to refer to a radio receiver or transceiver (a dual purpose receiver and transmitter device), It then was established for use in the field of wireless telegraphy early on.  Today this the term is used to describe modern wireless connections such as in cellular networks and wireless as well as WIFI broadband Internet. Wireless can also be thought of in a general sense to refer to any operation that is implemented without the use of wires, such as “wireless remote control” or “wireless energy transfer”, regardless of the specific technology (e.g. radio, infrared, ultrasonic) used.  Radio has been used since with standards of FM and AM radio.   AM radio uses a lower frequency band allowing for very long distances.  Many types of wireless signals exist across a huge spectrum.  This history and timeline can be found here: https://www.electronics-notes.com/articles/history/radio-receivers/radio-history-timeline.php

 

Snippet of distances of achieved in the early history of wireless communications:

  • 1888 – Wireless Travel distance 50 Meters
  • 1894 – Wireless Travel distance 2 kilometers
  • 1897 – Wireless Travel distance 14 kilometers
  • 1899  – Wireless Travel distance 130 Kilometers
  • From here it exploded to communications around the globe.  The best and brightest pushed this technology out extremely fast.

 

Radio could be deemed the first managed wireless service and a precursor to managed WIFI type services.    We will be getting into WIFI and then lead into managed WIFI services.   Radio has been in constant operation by major providers for many years and paved the way for managed WIFI, Cellular and LPWAN services.

Invention of WIFI

WIFI is a technology that allows electronic devices to connect to a wireless Local area network (WLAN), mainly using the 2.4 gigahertz (12 cm) UHF and 5 gigahertz (6 cm) SHF ISM radio bands.  Managed WIFI providers know all of these technologies extremely well.

 

Timeline of invention of WIFI:  (Black Holes appear or not)

  • In 1971 ALOHAnet connected the Hawaiian Islands with a UHF wireless packet network.
  • A 1985 ruling by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission released the ISM band for unlicensed use. These frequency bands are the same ones used by equipment such as microwave ovens and are subject to interference.
  • In 1991, NCR Corporation with AT&T Corporation invented the precursor to 802.11 for point of sale systems. The first wireless products were under the name WaveLAN. These 2 groups are credited with inventing Wi-Fi.
  • (Black Holes) The Australian radio-astronomer Dr John O’Sullivan with his colleagues Dr Terrence Percival AM, Mr Graham Daniels, Mr Diet Ostry, Mr John Deane developed a key patent used in Wi-Fi as a by-product of a Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) research project, “a failed experiment to detect exploding mini black holes the size of an atomic particle”. In 1992 and 1996, CSIRO obtained patents. for a method later used in Wi-Fi to “un-smear” the signal.
  • In 1997 the first version of the 802.11 protocol was released.  These first WIFI products provided up to 2 Mbit/s link speeds. This was updated in 1999 with 802.11b to permit 11 Mbit/s link speeds, and this proved to be popular.
  • In 1999, the Wi-Fi Alliance formed as a trade association to hold the Wi-Fi trademark under which most products are sold.
  • Today WIFI routers exist in almost every home and business.  With speeds matching that of cable solutions and obvious cost reductions the use is increasing.
  • Today is it estimated that well over 1 billion Wireless / WIFI devices are running.  This is where managed WIFI makes a lot of sense as you consolidate the management of these devices globally.

High Speed – Wifi Standards

  • Introduction – 1999 – 11 B – 2.4Ghz – Speed – 11Mbps – Coverage – 330ft
802.11B channel to frequency map
Channel  Center Frequency  Frequency delta Channel Width Overlaps Channels
1 2.412 GHz 5 MHz 2.401–2.423 GHz 2-5
2 2.417 GHz 5 MHz 2.406–2.428 GHz 1,3-6
3 2.422 GHz 5 MHz 2.411–2.433 GHz 1-2,4-7
4 2.427 GHz 5 MHz 2.416–2.438 GHz 1-3,5-8
5 2.432 GHz 5 MHz 2.421–2.443 GHz 1-4,6-9
6 2.437 GHz 5 MHz 2.426–2.448 GHz 2-5,7-10
7 2.442 GHz 5 MHz 2.431–2.453 GHz 3-6,8-11
8 2.447 GHz 5 MHz 2.436–2.458 GHz 4-7,9-12
9 2.452 GHz 5 MHz 2.441–2.463 GHz 5-8,10-13
10 2.457 GHz 5 MHz 2.446–2.468 GHz 6-9,11-13
11 2.462 GHz 5 MHz 2.451–2.473 GHz 7-10,12-13
12 2.467 GHz 5 MHz 2.456–2.478 GHz 8-11,13-14
13 2.472 GHz 5 MHz 2.461–2.483 GHz 9-12, 14
14 2.484 GHz 12 MHz 2.473–2.495 GHz 12-13
  • Introduction 2003 – 11 G – 2.4Ghz – Speed – 54Mbps – Coverage – 330ft
IEEE 802.11g channel to frequency map
Channel Center frequency Channel width Overlapping channels
1 2.412 GHz 2.401 GHz – 2.423 GHz 2,3,4,5
2 2.417 GHz 2.406 GHz – 2.428 GHz 1,3,4,5,6
3 2.422 GHz 2.411 GHz – 2.433 GHz 1,2,4,5,6,7
4 2.427 GHz 2.416 GHz – 2.438 GHz 1,2,3,5,6,7,8
5 2.432 GHz 2.421 GHz – 2.443 GHz 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9
6 2.437 GHz 2.426 GHz – 2.448 GHz 2,3,4,5,7,8,9,10
7 2.442 GHz 2.431 GHz – 2.453 GHz 3,4,5,6,8,9,10,11
8 2.447 GHz 2.436 GHz – 2.458 GHz 4,5,6,7,9,10,11,12
9 2.452 GHz 2.441 GHz – 2.463 GHz 5,6,7,8,10,11,12,13
10 2.457 GHz 2.446 GHz – 2.468 GHz 6,7,8,9,11,12,13
11 2.462 GHz 2.451 GHz – 2.473 GHz 7,8,9,10,12,13
12 2.467 GHz 2.456 GHz – 2.478 GHz 8,9,10,11,13,14
13 2.472 GHz 2.461 GHz – 2.483 GHz 9,10,11,12,14
14 2.484 GHz 2.473 GHz – 2.495 GHz 12,13
  • Introduction 2009 – 11 N – 2.4 & 5Ghz – Speed – 450Mbps – Coverage – 300ft
Primary
channel
20 MHz 40 MHz above 40 MHz below
Blocks 2nd ch. Center Blocks 2nd ch. Center Blocks
1 1–3 5 3 1–7 N/A
2 1–4 6 4 1–8 N/A
3 1–5 7 5 1–9 N/A
4 2–6 8 6 2–10 N/A
5 3–7 9 7 3–11 1 3 1–7
6 4–8 10 8 4–12 2 4 1–8
7 5–9 11 9 5–13 3 5 1–9
8 6–10 12 10 6–13 4 6 2–10
9 7–11 13 11 7–13 5 7 3–11
10 8–12 N/A 6 8 4–12
11 9–13 N/A 7 9 5–13
12 10–13 N/A 8 10 6–13
13 11–13 N/A 9 11 7–13
  • Introduction 2013-2014 – 11 AC – 2.4Ghz / 5Ghz – Speed – 1gbps + Coverage 300ft
Type 2.4 GHz band[c]
(Mbit/s)
5 GHz band
(Mbit/s)
AC600 150 433
AC750 300 433
AC1200 300 867
AC1300 400 867
AC1300 1,300
AC1450 450 975
AC1600 300 1,300
AC1750 450 1,300
AC1900 600 1,300
AC2200 450 1,733
AC2350 600 1,733
AC2600 800 1,733
AC3000 450 1,300 + 1,300
AC3100 1000 2,167
AC3150 1000 2,167
AC3200 600 1,300 + 1,300
AC5300 1000 2,166 + 2,166

 

The Future of Managed WIFI – Technology

Managed WIFI Levels

 

  • Introduction 2011 – 2015  – Coming soon – 11 AD – (2.4Ghz / 5Ghz) 60Ghz – Speed –7Gbps + Coverage 300ft
Channel Center (GHz) Min. (GHz) Max. (GHz) BW (GHz)
1 58.32 57.24 59.4 2.16
2 60.48 59.4 61.56 2.16
3 62.64 61.56 63.72 2.16
4 64.8 63.72 65.88 2.16
MCS
index
Modulation
type
Coding
rate
Phy rate
(Mbit/s)
Sensitivity
(dBm)
EVM
(dB)
13 SQPSK 1/2 693 −66 −7
14 SQPSK 5/8 866.25 −64 −9
15 QPSK 1/2 1386 −63 −10
16 QPSK 5/8 1732.5 −62 −11
17 QPSK 3/4 2079 −60 −13
18 16-QAM 1/2 2772 −58 −15
19 16-QAM 5/8 3465 −56 −17
20 16-QAM 3/4 4158 −54 −19
21 16-QAM 13/16 4504.5 −53 −20
22 64-QAM 5/8 5197.5 −51 −22
23 64-QAM 3/4 6237 −49 −24
24 64-QAM 13/16 6756.75 −47 −26

Another couple future standards include AH, and AF as well as AX.   The below image highlights all the standards and spectrums.

Managed Wireless first started with Radio and Cellular

 

Invention of Cellular – One could consider the cellular networks the first form of managed wireless technology

The first Public mobile phone systems were introduced in the years after the Second World War and made use of technology developed before and during the conflict. The first system opened in St Louis, Missouri in 1946 with other countries following in the following decades.

Public mobile phone systems were first introduced in the years after the Second World War and made use of technology developed before and during the conflict. The first system opened in St Louis, Missouri in 1946 whilst other countries followed in the succeeding decades

What is a cellular network?

In a cellular radio system, a land area to be supplied with radio service is divided into regularly shaped cells, which can be hexagonal, square, circular or some other regular shapes, although hexagonal cells are conventional. Each of these cells is assigned with multiple frequencies (f1f6) which have corresponding radio base stations. The group of frequencies can be reused in other cells, provided that the same frequencies are not reused in adjacent close by cells as that would cause co-channel interference.

Comparison Chart for Cellular Standards

Cellular technology has had an impact on human society in such a HUGE way.  We have felt its presence everywhere and it helps us stay connected.  Cellular evolution has been a product of demand by the consumer.  The demand started with call availability.  Around 2000 it started changing to data availability and then in the coming years it changed to data speed.  People care less about the calling and more about data.  Even the pricing changes from per minute to per GB transfer charging.   Cellular technology is great but has a place and in some cases, it is not the best for future technologies specifically in the SMART CITY space.   Blow you will see the list of cellular standards over the years.

 

Comparison chart of cellular standards

 

Feature NMT GSM UMTS (3GSM) IS-95 (CDMA one) IS-2000 (CDMA 2000) LTE
Technology FDMA TDMA and FDMA W-CDMA CDMA CDMA OFDMA
Generation 1G 2G 3G 2G 3G 4G
Encoding Analog Digital Digital Digital Digital Digital
Year of First Use 1981 1991 2001 1995 2000 / 2002 2009
Roaming Nordics and several other European countries Worldwide, all countries except Japan and South Korea Worldwide Limited Limited Limited
Handset interoperability None SIM card SIM card None RUIM (rarely used) SIM card
Common Interference None Some electronics, e.g. amplifiers None None None None
Signal quality/coverage area Good coverage due to low frequencies Good coverage indoors on 850/900 MHz. Repeaters possible. 35 km hard limit. Smaller cells and lower indoors coverage on 2100 MHz; equivalent coverage indoors and superior range to GSM on 850/900 MHz. Unlimited cell size, low transmitter power permits large cells Unlimited cell size, low transmitter power permits large cells
Frequency utilization/Call density Very low density 0.2 MHz = 8 timeslots. Each timeslot can hold up to 2 calls (4 calls with VAMOS) through interleaving. 5 MHz = 2 Mbit/s. 42Mbit/s for HSPA+. Each call uses 1.8-12 kbit/s depending on chosen quality and audio complexity. Lower than CDMA-2000? 1.228  MHz = 3Mbit/s
Handoff Hard Hard Soft Soft Soft Hard
Voice and Data at the same time No Yes GPRS Class A Yes[2] No No EVDO / Yes SVDO[3] No (data only)
Voice possible though VoLTE or fallback to 2G/3G

The future of cellular

Now we move into the 5th generation of mobile / wireless networks.  This new system is abbreviated 5G, are the proposed as the next mobile / wireless telecommunications standards beyond the current 4G/IMT-Advanced standards. In addition to faster peak Internet connection speeds, 5G will be planning to take on higher capacity than current 4G.  This will allow a higher number of mobile broadband users per area unit.  We are seeing consumption of higher or unlimited data quantities in gigabyte per month and an increase in user qty. With a 5G type system it would make it feasible for a large portion of the population to stream high-definition media many hours per day with their mobile devices, when out of reach of managed WIFI hotspots. 5G is trying to simultaneously improve support for machine to machine communication.  Machine to Machine is what the Internet of things is also labeled and what smart cities run on.   5g will be aiming at lower cost, lower battery consumption, and lower latency than 4G equipment.

As of this writing (11/13/2016), There is currently no standard for 5G deployments. The Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance defines the following requirements that a 5G standard should fulfill

  • Data rates of 100 megabits per second for metropolitan areas
  • 1 Gb per second simultaneously to many workers on the same office floor
  • Several hundreds of thousands of simultaneous connections for massive wireless sensor network
  • Spectral efficiency significantly enhanced compared to 4G
  • Coverage improved
  • Signaling efficiency enhanced
  • 1ms Latency
  • Latency reduced significantly compared to LTE.

SMART CITY Managed WIFI / Wireless networks – Low Power / Low-Speed Wireless Standards:

First let’s figure out what problem, this technology is trying to solve. The first thing it is trying to solve for is DEEP reach with each access point.  Think 30 miles instead of kilometers.   The second is multi-tenant secure access.  Thing 10’s of thousands of simultaneous connections to a single access point. The third thing this is trying to solve for is battery life hence the low power moniker.  With these technologies, batteries in the field can last up to 20 YEARS.  That is absolutely shocking in reach and allows for low-speed communication penetrating deeply with maximum accessibility.  This all leads to a massive cost reduction over cellular which is a key element to enabling a smart city initiative.

Smart Cities require many types of wireless transmission and will require a managed WIFI provider to perform many steps including.

  • Discovering the city geography and topography
  • Assessing needs from possible application requirements
  • Locate power and wired assets
  • Understand Cellular and LPWAN assets
  • Deploy WAP’s at strategic locations
  • Provide Robust cyber security options
  • Update the technology with newer standards as they arise

www.nexigen.com and www.smartlink.city both provide managed WIFI services across the country.

Low Power WAN (LPWAN( Options

INGENU – The Leader in the smart city LPWAN space

Ingenu (Formerly known as on-ramp) utilizes a technology which it owns called RPMA.  This technology is fascinating and I have had hands on experience with it.  We have used an access point at our office and driven over 15 miles away and still maintained coverage.   We will be using this as our primary smart city canopy technology.

Features:

  • Data Rate – uplink is 624 kbit/s and downlink is 156 kbit/s
  • Licensed across the globe for maximum adoption from manufacturers
  • Large supplier network featuring companies such as GE
  • 30 Major metro markets covered entirely by the end of 2016
  • 300 Square mile coverage per tower
  • Utilizes the 2.4Ghz spectrum
  • Long battery life capable
  • Up to 64 k devices simultaneous connections per tower (Multi-Tenant)
  • Enterprise security
  • 1 Ingenu Tower compares to 18 LORA towers, 30 Cellular towers, and 70 for Sigfox.
  • Advanced API engine
  • Extremely low cost


LORA Alliance – OPEN SOURCE PRIVATE LPWAN NETWORK

LoRaWAN™ is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) specification intended for wireless battery operated Things in a regional, national or global network. LoRaWAN targets key requirements of Internet of Things such as secure bi-directional communication, mobility, and localization services. The LoRaWAN specification provides seamless interoperability among smart Things without the need of complex local installations and gives back the freedom to the user, developer, businesses enabling the rollout of Internet of Things.

Features:

  • Data Rates – from 0.3 kbps to 50 kbp
  • Licensed across globe
  • 62 square mile coverage
  • Enterprise security
  • Long Battery life
  • Advanced API Engine
  • Not created for multi-tenancy
  • Large manufacturer adoption
  • Extremely low cost
  • Large adoption across globe

 

Sigfox – Player in the LPWAN Space

Sigfox is a French company which builds wireless networks to connect low per devices such as IoT devices. This company has some great technology for the smart city and IOT space.  SIGFOX employs “a cellular style system that enables remote devices to connect using ultra narrow band (UNB) technology”, the same used for submarine communications during World War I. As one expert explains, “M2M and IoT will give rise to billions of nodes that require connecting. Most of these will require only low bandwidth to transfer small amounts of data. Some will also require this to be connected over distances greater than those achievable simply by a transmitter on its own. For many of these applications, the traditional cellular phone systems are too complex to allow for very low power operation and too costly to be feasible for many small low-cost nodes…The SIGFOX network and technology is aimed at the low-cost machine to machine application areas where wide area coverage is required

Features:

  • Data Rate – uplink is 100 kbit/s and downlink is 100 kbit/s
  • Licensed across the globe for maximum adoption from manufacturers
  • Large global adoption with the entire country of France deployed
  • 300 Square mile coverage per tower
  • Long battery life capable
  • They claim 1 million devices supported per base station but simultaneous usage could not be found (Multi-Tenant)
  • Enterprise security
  • Advanced API engine
  • Extremely low cost

 

Problems with LP WAN that will need to be resolved

Since we have 3 competing standards we are seeing intricate problems in ensuring that the devices / application we chose will work with the low power WAN we choose (canopy).

  • Device manufacturers are scattered across the 3 standards
    • You can use a dongle of sorts to bridge this gap
  • API’s will need to be written
    • Your application provider most likely has not thought of this and will need you to write the API or convince them to create based on your order size.
  • Sizing, placement and integration
    • Deeply understanding the total solution landscape and integration scopes are not properly vetted. Understanding the locations for each tower, AP and AP types have to be defined prior to implementation for maximum efficiency.

Managed WIFI, Cellular, and Low Power WAN canopy

So if I’m a city where in the world do I begin in trying to figure out which technology should be used and why?

Well, my personal conclusion is as follows:

  • You need to create value where it exists and you need to utilize the best technologies that offer the most value / cost ratio.
  • Deploying these types of systems without a systems based mindset and understanding the entire picture can lead to very inefficient and expensive designs.
  • Know the technologies and understand the strengths, requirements, current capabilities, and future capabilities.
  • Find strong strategic partners who understand all the solutions available.
  • Think creatively and understand the public-private mindset needed to deliver a managed WIFI or smart city kiosk solution.

 

Managed WIFI

 

With a managed WIFI solution the city gets managed WIFI for its citizens but does not get monetary value.  With a SMART CITY KIOSK like those  from www.smartlink.city you will access get inbound revenue from the WIFI access points meaning a check every month.  Make sure when deploying you are deploying what benefits you the most in the managed WIFI solution.   Many service providers exist which offer managed WIFI and if they can introduce a SMART CITY KIOSK solution you are in a better position.  I do not recommend taking this on by yourself.

With Cellular you need to take a tactical approach and only utilize it where absolutely needed.  Cellular could come into play should you have a need for fast speed where a managed WIFI access point or smart city kiosk does not exist.  This will result in a higher cost but with strategic thinking, it can be managed and reduced during negotiation with the carrier reseller.  NEVER BUY CELLULAR service at the store.  Many third parties are set up to resell bulk cellular service at lower rates.

With canopy,  I am pretty sure the above shows that www.ingenu.com is hands down the best LPWAN provider based on coverage, efficiency, and capability.  You will need to perform a deep analysis of your wants and tie that back to application, device and third-party tools such as www.thingworx.com (IOT Visualization) or www.predix.io (Analytics as a Service by GE).    Most likely you will find gaps where connections need to be created such as API’s / Hooks.

Once you have your perfect wireless system setup you will be providing high-speed coverage to your citizens with a strong managed WIFI solution with SMART CITY KIOSKS driving revenue for the city and offering more value to citizens.  You will then be able to select and implement your LPWAN provider for coverage to all those smart devices coming.  Hopefully, this can be paid for by your managed WIFI smart city Kiosks fund which will be filled about 1 year after you sign your contract.

Deployment environments for managed WIFI include cities, businesses, universities, event centers, parks, and many other places.  With the right managed WIFI partner who performs the proper due diligence these projects will go smoothly.

Conclusion

Wow, this was fun to write and I learned a ton along the way.  I have been working with wireless since 2000 but you always learn something new during discovery.  Today I think we need to look at managed WIFI solutions that utilize smart city kiosks as more than just WIFI.  This is more of a street lab scenario where we are offering maximum value to citizens and gathering important real-time census data for the city.  This helps drive the rest of the projects.  Ultimately none of this would be possible without all the brilliant minds that have come before to create this wonderfully connected world we live in today.  Wireless communication is now more than 100 years worth of our history and will be leading us well into the future.

I hope that you found some segment of this article helpful and enjoyable.

If you would like to learn more about smart city kiosks which utilize managed WIFI you can find @ Cincinnati Based Company smartLINK: http://smartlink.city/blog/2016/11/13/wireless-history-managed-wifi-smart-city-kiosks

Author Info

Jon Salisbury – Chief Technology Officer @ Nexigen Chief Strategy Officer @ Smartlink

  • For more information about managed WIFI please email Cincinnati based Nexigen @ info@nexigen.com
  • For more information about SMART CITY KIOSKS or IOT please Cincinnati based smartLINK @ info@smartlink.com
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