Microwave Internet Solution: Do a Watmos

Not A Small Cooking Apparatus – A Powerful Internet Solution

Microwave Internet Solution is sometimes known as WiMAX, Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access. What a mouthful. This is an internet connection delivered over the ‘last mile’ by a high capacity microwave radio link. While microwave internet was once considered a leading form of internet communication and an alternative to cable and DSL options, its adoption has been limited.

Mostly, this is down to its much higher cost than other internet alternatives. However, it can be cheaper in the long run to implement instead of standard wired hardware because it’s a one-off cost with no monthly fees. It also has the advantage of not requiring any infrastructure (other than power) at the client end. So no cables, ducts or phone line required.

How does it work?

Microwave Internet always starts with a fibre connection which is connected to the national fibre network and therefore the internet. From here it is connected to a radio which transmits the internet access over the air. It is converted back into a cable at the customer end by way of a router. This uses high frequency radio waves (undetectable by WiFi devices) to transmit an encrypted signal which is decrypted and converted back to a copper or fibre connection at either end of the radio link.

In practical terms, microwave internet operates in a similar way to WiFi but at higher speeds, over greater distances and for a greater number of users. It could potentially help in suburban and rural areas that currently have no broadband internet access because phone and cable companies have not yet run the necessary wires to those remote locations.

Not your standard internet solution

A microwave internet connection is quite a sophisticated option. It consists of two parts:

1. A WiMAX Tower
Similar in concept to a phone tower. A single tower can provide coverage to a very large area as big as 3,000 square miles.

2. A WiMAX Receiver
The receiver and antenna could be a small box or card, or they could be built into a laptop the way WiFi access is today.

The tower station can connect directly to the Internet using a high-bandwidth, wired connection. It can also connect to another tower using a line-of-sight, microwave link. This connection to a second tower, along with the ability of a single tower to cover up to 3,000 square miles, is what allows WiMAX to provide coverage to remote rural areas.

Two is better than One

Microwave internet technology offers more than just one wireless service. It offers two. This means that it can better serve a wider range of clients, without requiring multiple solutions.

Non-line-of-sight
A copycat WiFi service, where a small antenna on your computer connects to the tower. In this mode, WiMAX uses a lower frequency range — 2 GHz to 11 GHz (similar to WiFi). Lower-wavelength transmissions are not as easily disrupted by physical obstructions — they are better able to diffract, or bend, around obstacles.

Line-of-sight service
This is where a fixed dish antenna points straight at the WiMAX tower from a rooftop or pole. The line-of-sight connection is stronger and more stable, so it’s able to send a lot of data with fewer errors. Line-of-sight transmissions use higher frequencies, with ranges reaching a possible 66 GHz. At higher frequencies, there is less interference and lots more bandwidth.

A working solution for Watmos …

Watmos are a multi-site organisation, all within the Walsall area, except for the London offices. They had a business need to connect all sites into the single corporate network that was located at one of their locations.

At the time, this would have been costly to install dedicated internet connections at each site and have networking hardware to connect and manage the sites accordingly. The wireless point to point microwave link was the best option for Watmos as this ticked all the right boxes for them that included budget and requirement at the time.

What we did 

Watmos have multiple, high rise residential blocks all within the Walsall area. Each of the blocks are more than 10 stories high. During the first stages of the project, we went through a thorough planning process to decide the best locations for the equipment to achieve the best operation.

Health and safety was a massive part in this project, given the environment we were installing. We had chosen the highest point (17 floors) and made this the ‘hub’ of the operations. Due to the size of the heavy equipment, none it fit into the lift! Therefore we had to manually handle 100+ Kg up 17 floors. This was the same for the other sites. Once this metal work was installed, the easy part was getting the network configured.

From the Hub, we installed wireless links to each of the other residential blocks around Walsall. Some of which were 3-4 km away. You could see this as the A end and the B end. The A end being the hub and the B end being the Tennant Office that needed the network link, a bit like transmit and receive.

They required a network controller to do this and it’s this that handles all the traffic. This is known as a transparent data connection from one side to the other. This included the installation of the metal work (cable tray, steel fixings and poles for the wireless radios etc) and the radio devices for the wireless transmission and incoming data.

 The connections we installed at Watmos are all 100mbps. This gave them 100 mbps, uncontended full duplex connection between multiple sites as if they were one network/site. This would never have been an option with alternative solutions and has been instrumental in the way they operate today.

Benefits of Microwave Internet for Watmos

100 mbps full duplex connections between sites
This is super quick, far quicker than could be achieved with fibre or WIFI alone

Uncontended bandwidth
You get a dedicated link just for you, it’s not shared with anyone else. Plus it comes with a service level agreement much the same as a fibre leased line.

Low latency
This solution is often lower latency than a fibre cable owing to the fact it doesn’t have to pass through an exchange, its directly into the national fibre network.

Fast installation
A new microwave Internet connection sits at less than one working day. This contrasts with many other solutions such as fibre broadband which may take several weeks to provision effectively.

Encrypted data over the air
Everything you do is much more secure, which is great for those that handle sensitive data like Watmos.

Interconnected sites
Rather than having separate internet connections for multiple sites, you all share the same connection making it easier to manage. Plus it can cover a huge distance of up to 30 miles.

1 ethernet connection
You’re only paying out for one great service. Then you can share it out between multiple sites, like Watmos have done with their 5 sites. All of this via intelligent routing to get the most for your money.

Fancy Giving Microwave A Go?

Microwave internet is a creative business broadband solution that allows you to make the most of your money. Still unsure if it could work for you? Our impartial experts are always on hand to offer advice around solutions you’re interested in. Do a Watmos and get in touch to see if it’s something you could benefit from.

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