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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Using wireless backhaul to improve communications

    Today I would like to talk about few of the wireless systems which have caught my fancy in a big way. You must be wondering what I am going to talk about and I will not hold you in suspense much longer. You see wireless systems have a very important place in our lives as they add convenience and sometimes enhance the safety factor. The three things which are crucial in todays life are: wireless backhaul, microwave backhaul and point to point wireless. I will try to explain them below one by one and I hope you find the explanation helpful.

    A wireless backhaul is the use of wireless communications systems to get data from an end user to a node in a major network such as the Internet or the proprietary network of a large business, academic institution or government agency. The term can also refer to the transmission of network data over an alternative wireless route when the normal route is unavailable or overtaxed. The most common method of wireless backhaul involves microwave. Manufacturers of network switching equipment use the term backhaul to refer to the process of getting data to the network backbone. In satellite communication, backhaul means getting data to a point from which it can be transmitted to the satellite. Backhaul is also used to get non-live audio and video material to distribution points at major broadcast news organizations. The term is occasionally used in reference to the use of the back channel on a bidirectional communications line.

    The microwave backhaul comes into the picture when wireless carriers enable higher speed data services with new and evolving technologies, they are faced with the challenge of backhauling that data from the cell sites to their core network elements. The cost of providing these connections is becoming an increasingly significant portion of carrier operating expenses. The challenge will become even more pressing as high-speed data technologies like LTE and WiMax are scheduled to roll out across the country in the coming months and years. Like the access side of the network, microwave radio systems have evolved to become increasingly data centric with many radios designed to operate as Ethernet-based transport devices. Using these devices for the backhaul, enables carriers to lower their total cost of network ownership which provides them with a competitive edge as they go through the transition to 4G networks.

    A point to point wireless is a device that allows wireless devices to connect to a wired network using wi-fi, bluetooth or related standards. The WAP usually connects to a router (via a wired network), and can relay data between the wireless devices (such as computers or printers) and wired devices on the network. Prior to wireless networks, setting up a computer network in a business, home, or school often required running many cables through walls and ceilings in order to deliver network access to all of the network-enabled devices in the building. With the creation of the Wireless Access Point, network users are now able to add devices that access the network with few or no cables. Today's WAPs are built to support a standard for sending and receiving data using radio frequencies rather than cabling. A typical corporate use involves attaching several WAPs to a wired network and then providing wireless access to the office LAN. The wireless access points are managed by a WLAN Controller which handles automatic adjustments to RF power, channels, authentication, and security. Further, controllers can be combined to form a wireless mobility group to allow inter-controller roaming. The controllers can be part of a mobility domain to allow clients access throughout large or regional office locations. This saves the clients time and administrators overhead because it can automatically re-associate or re-authenticate. A hotspot is a common public application of WAPs, where wireless clients can connect to the Internet without regard for the particular networks to which they have attached for the moment. The concept has become common in large cities, where a combination of coffeehouses, libraries, as well as privately owned open access points, allow clients to stay more or less continuously connected to the Internet, while moving around. A collection of connected hotspots can be referred to as a lily-pad network.