Wireless Networking the bush

Thinking more about connectivity methods available in rural areas..

.. actually, let me clarify what I define as a rural area..

I define a rural area as a area of land where the population density is very light, so much so that in any 50 KM area, there might be a maximum of 40 residential properties.

.. Now it’s known the sort of surroundings I refer to rural, I wanted to mention here, that I was thinking of the different ways rural users could be connected to the internet, in a manner that delivered speeds which were future proof for at least 10 years, where they might degrade to the position where an upgrade might be needed again.

It’s a continuous cycle for the bush area, for sometime, until population density rises and big business find them feasible, the bush will continuously end up in a cycle like:

1. Services Degraded / Non – Existent
2. Services Improved to a Significant Scale for the future.
3. 5 – 10 years later, services are either below metro, but still “fair”, or below demand.
4. Services Degraded
5. Services Improved
6. Go to 1.

As you can see, the cycle for the bush will inevitably continue, the kicker here is investing in the right technology will at least mean that the improvements cost less in the form of upgrades to any network, rather than rolling out new infrastructure.

So, looking at my example, and the cycle that is believed to continue, we can see that the best solution for bush users is Wireless in some way, shape or form.

Running direct cables to these people, capable of carrying fast services are simply too expensive that they won’t be viable for some time.

The counter argument here is running fibre to their farm sheds, but that costs a packet. It’s one big plus is that it will be future proof for a long time (as long as the nation uses fibre optic cables undersea to get its data from the US).

So, back to wireless technologies, which are affordable for the density required to be serviced, the technologies used are all a key part of the decision.

WiMAX is a good choice, when you compare alternative wireless technologies, such as standard WiFi, and other technologies for a few reasons.

WiMAX can extend distances over 50KM, according to the only reliable source of information, WikiPedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WiMAX#Limitations, but behaves like DSL, with speeds dropping as a result of long distances.

Improvements to the WiMAX technology could see that improve.

The other ideal is doing exactly that in WikiPedia (ie. Providing 70Mbps data services) in a WDS(Wireless Distribution System) type of roll out, where the backhaul is simply the WiMAX network talking back to other WiMAX towers until it reaches a point of interconnect.

The bonus here is that should one unit drop out, the other is still available to offer an alternative backhaul path.

Futher to this, directional antennas and proper site survey can see the technology deployed to significant coverage benefits for the network.

Such improvements can be directional antennas targetting specific troublesome points, and even extending the technology to take on WiFi’s MIMO technology, which uses multiple antennas on a unit to find the best point of connection.

Carefully planned and deployed, WiMAX can indeed be a winning technology for rural australia, no matter who decides to call it sub par.

Until they have actually done it themselves and proven it to be of an inferior standard, or come to the table with better plans, those that claim a technology is inferior are talking out of their asses.

I’m keen to at least see a good worthwhile rollout of WiMAX take place to provide services to those that need it, and I would assume they would take advantage of all possible coverage extending options to save on any tower duplication.

It will indeed be good to see the speeds they will be pulling over such long range networks.

It’s been seen that many wireless based MESH groups of done links on standard wireless channels extending some 2KM+ or more, and receiving signal equivilent to what many call broadband in metro areas right now.

WiMAX is a more stable technology to do exactly what those mesh groups are doing, and with a Wireless Distribution System setup correctly as both the provider of services and the redundant backhaul, I doubt the technology will be a failure at all. I do see it as being a big success, if deployed correctly.

I have no idea why OPEL chose a conservative 20KM for the WiMAX network they are rolling out, as is stated in many areas, the networks are capable of 50KM, so they are somewhat cutting themselves off 30KM for some unknown reason, or perhaps this is where they expect the speeds to drop below a certain level (like 5Mbps?).

Hopefully they investigate all options with rolling this network out, it would be great to see the end results of such a large network.


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