The next step in the Evolution of Speed and Cost

By Sakid Ahmed

The need for speed. A reference not to the popular console game, but a phrase capturing the key challenge faced by many Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISP) in the industry today. Getting that super high-speed bandwidth to the tower is usually not the challenge because of fiber or microwave, but last mile access has been the bottleneck for years. It’s like driving a fast car on the Autobahn only to get off onto crawling traffic on the local roads.

For manufacturers in the wireless space, innovation has also been driven by the fundamental need to get more throughput out of less spectrum. The challenge is more complicated when one is trying to solve the problem in the unlicensed spectrum: what I like to call the wild, wild west spectrum environment. One meaningful approach naturally is to innovate solutions that can fight off unwanted interference. This starts with reducing self-interference in the network, which is often overlooked in favor of blaming that competitor operator down the street. Then, there is the challenge of fighting off external interference, in which case co-channel interference becomes one of the main culprits, especially when you are on a roof top with a multitude of other products where someone is on the same channel transmitting right towards your base station. Better filtering, beam steering technologies, narrower antenna beams are all tools in the tool box to tackle external interference.

Of course, interference fighting is about squeezing more out of what you have but what about that incremental jump in speed we are all looking for? How does that get achieved?

This is where we see innovation in better radios where higher modulations are achieved at somewhat reasonable SNR levels. Unfortunately, in the world of unlicensed spectrum achieving these higher modulations is practically impossible due to the unpredictability of interference. Fortunately, there is another way. The real innovation and opportunity for solving that need for speed comes in the form of multiple transmitters and receiver technology and the ability to transmit to multiple subscriber modules at the same time – and deliver it in a cost-effective package. An exponential jump in performance can be achieved with technologies such as Multi User MIMO and Massive MIMO. Innovation in this area is not easy but advances in wireless standards and supporting hardware can be leveraged to build affordable solutions for the outdoor market. Check out our latest solution in the ePMP 3000

Maybe getting off the Autobahn doesn’t have to be a crawl through neighborhood traffic after all.

Published October 10, 2018