From the First Mile to the Last Inch: Understanding Connectivity Options

Frank Tulus
Pan Asia Networking IDRC Regional Office for South Asia New Delhi, India

Dr. Onno Purbo:
 Former university professor, now a selfproclaimed ICT activist  Help build self-financed community networks in Indonesia that led to
 5000+ WiFi outdoor installations  1500+ schools connected to the Internet  20+ publications and articles  Countless educational workshops on WiFi and VoIP

 Likes to spread his knowledge – his teaching materials are at:  Leads WiFi for Develoment discussion group at

What is Connectivity?
 Content: Voice vs Data  Transmission Coding: Analog vs Digital  Medium: Wired vs Wireless  Speed: Broadband vs Narrowband

Where am I in the Internet?

“last mile”
Global Network Operator National Exchange Point

2nd National ISP
c Ba k n bo e


o ec l


Local ISP To other local ISPs

ISP Backbone National ISP, Central Switch National ISP, Local Switch

International Gateway

Who do I Connect to?
 Internet Service Provider (local, small)  Internet Service Provider (major, national) – could be the incumbent telecom operator  Cellular Operator  Direct to Global Network Service Provider

Choosing Internet Service Providers
 Quality of connection (speed and reliability)
office as well as from your remote site
 Always conduct speed and reliability test from the ISP

 Service quality (range of services and customer support)  Network coverage  « Hidden Costs »

Pinging the Remote Server

Calculating Actual Bandwidth


Li = average round trip latency (in seconds)

Checking Bandwidth Throughput

Service Level Agreement (SLA)
 An agreement between ISP and client which stipulates the quality of service, installations, and level of support  Should always try to request the ISP to guarantee the “last mile” service  Can include such things as the minimum bandwidth, latency, etc.

What Are My Options at the Last Mile?
Narrowband Wired
Dial-up (v.90, v.92) ISDN (Single Band) Internet on Cable DSL/ADSL VHF/UHF Radio corDECT GPRS (2.5G)

Internet on Cable DSL/ADSL ISDN (dual leased circuit) Satellite (VSAT, DTH, DirecPC, RB-GAN) WiFi (802.11) LMDS/MMDS (802.16.3) WiMax (802.16) UMTS (3G)


Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT)
• Direct connectivity to a satellite – can be placed anywhere where there is a satellite coverage • Can have direct international connection – bypassing infrastructure bottleneck • Ample bandwidth – one connection can be used to serve many communities • At the ground station, outdoor and indoor units are required

Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT)
Downside: • Regulation – may disallow, allow only download but not upload, or may only allow domestic space segment • Latency – can be a problem depending on the number of signal “hop” • Equipment price – initial investment cost is still high even though the price continues to drop • Subscription price – can be very high depending on the regulations, competition and traffic routing • Complexity – maintenance requires specialized skills • Power – reliable power source needed

VSAT Frequency Band
Up Link C Ku Ka Down Link Dish Size

5.9253.7-4.2Ghz 7.8m 6.425Ghz 14-14.5Ghz 10.953.8m 11.7Ghz 25-31Ghz 18-25Ghz 0.5-1.8m

VSAT Topology – Star Configuration


Outdoor Unit Outdoor Unit

Hub Unit

VSAT Topology – Mesh Configuration


Outdoor Unit Outdoor Unit

Outdoor Unit

VSAT Access Method
        Pure and Slotted Aloha Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) Frequency Division Multiple Access (FDMA) Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) Demand Assigned Multiple Access (DAMA) Pre-assigned Multiple Access (PAMA) Single Channel per Carrier (SCPC) Frequency-time Division Multiple Access (FTDMA)

Where to Get More Information
    

Global VSAT Forum – Gilat – Asia-Pacific Satellite Communication Council -

DirecPC/Direct to Home (DTH)
 A service offered by Hughes Network Systems (DirecPC) a few other companies that provides Internet access through private satellite dishes  Requests for Web pages normally go through an analog modem connection, but pages are delivered through the satellite link at up to 400 Kbps (DirecPC). DTH can have both uplink and downlink via the satellite (if regulation permits)  Easier to install and much cheaper than conventional VSAT  Service not widely available at the moment

Wireless Fidelity (WiFi)
• Based on IEEE 802.11 wireless standard • 3 variants: • 802.11b – up to 11Mb/sec, 2.4Ghz, up to 200feet outdoors • 802.11a – up to 54Mb/sec, 5.8Ghz, up to 50feet outdoors • 802.11g – up to 54Mb/sec, 2.4Ghz, up to 200feet outdoors • 2.4Ghz is a “non-licensed” band • Spectrum allocation regulation not set in many countries

Main Advantages of WiFi
• Relatively low-cost, commercially available equipment • Easy to install and setup • High bandwidth available (enable sharing of resources) • Low power requirement (depending on distance) • No royalty charges for spectrum use • Allows greater mobility for the users

Using WiFi to Bypass the Telco Infrastructure

WiFi Connectivity
8k m
Comm. Tower

Comm. Tower Router Repeater

Comm. Tower


56k dial-up or leased telco line
Modem Modem

Terminal server

IBM Compatible

Using WiFi to Build a Wireless Community Area Network

Comm. Tower

Router Server at a Telecentre Hub




Modem Hospital

High School Primary School


Fire Department

Setting-up WiFi for Outdoor Use
Equipment Needed:
         Access Point/Router – (at client and host) Outdoor Antenna “Pigtail” Coaxial Cable UTP Ethernet Patch Cable UTP Hub for LAN Lightning Arrester Tower (optional) Wireless Adapters (optional) Alternate Power Supply (optional)

Setting-up WiFi for Outdoor Use
Pigtail Cable (coaxial) for connecting to outdoor antenna

Setting-up WiFi for Outdoor Use
Outdoor WiFi Antennae Omni Sectoral
Directional (Yagi) Directional (Parabolic)

Radiation Pattern of Various Antennae

1. 2. 3.

Omni Sectoral Directional

3 2

Making Your Own Antenna

2.6cm metal soldered to N-type male connector

Physical Setup of Antenna
1. Need to conduct radio link calculation
   

2. Need to conduct free space loss calculation 3. Line of sight determination

Onno’s tutorial on radio concepts Formula for online calculation is available at Onno’s excel template is also available

Again, Onno’s tutorial and template are available as well as from Optical line of sight and radio line of sight (fresnel zone)

4. Aiming the antenna and determining tilt angle 5. System operating margin calculation

Measuring margin for signal fade

Physical Setup of Antenna

How Much Does It Cost?
Professional Grade Equipment
At the Host Site:       Access Point - US$62-130 Pigtail - US$30 Coax - US$90-130 Sector Antenna - US$500-800 Omni Antenna - US$150-240 Total Investment US$330-1100 At the Client Site:      PCI Card- US$50-105 Pig Tail - US$30 Coax - US$90-130 Directional Ant - US$100-250 Total Investment - US$280480

Where to Buy Equipment?
Check the Internet First: For Pro Outdoor Equipment:

Where to Buy Equipment?

Radio Equipment: For WiFi Tower:

Up and Coming Connectivity Solution

corDECT Wireless

Satellite Modem - RBGAN
• Direct to satellite connection from your notebook computer • No need for expensive parabolic transponder/antenna • Coverage available in South Asia (as well as Europe, Middle East and Africa) • Service to be provided by Immarsat

RBGAN Coverage Area

WiMax (802.16)
 Similar to WiFi but has a larger coverage and bandwidth compared to WiFi  Resolves the line-of-sight problem – WiMax speed not affected by physical obstruction  Standard is still loosely defined (equipment tend to use proprietary technology)  Can be adapted for point-to-point communication (RedLine Communications or Wi-Lan Inc.)