GoingWiMAX.com recently interviewed Robb Henshaw, GoingWiMAX.com expert and Senior Director for Global Marketing and Communications for Proxim Wireless. He highlighted Sunrise Wireless deployment of Proxim equipment in San Francisco Bay. He also hinted about the future of the technology along with the current WiMAX developments.
Sunrise deployed two types of networks in the Bay. One networks is for commercial vessels in the Bay, used for live video, emergency services using unlicensed WiMAX equipment. The other network provides Wi-Fi access to recreational boaters in areas of the Bay.
1. How does the install in the San Francisco Bay showcase the versatility of Proxim’s solutions?
The San Francisco Bay installation showcases the versatility of the Proxim solutions because it utilizes multiple wireless broadband technologies from across our end-to-end wireless portfolio. In this case, they utilize a combination of our high-performance outdoor Wi-Fi solutions, our point-to-multipoint products, as well as our
point-to-point wireless backhaul products. The outdoor Wi-Fi products are used to provide the publically-accessible Wi-Fi network for recreational boaters. The point-to-multipoint products are positioned along the shore to provide long-distance, high-performance wireless connectivity from commercial ships (ferries, cruise ships, cargo ships, etc.) back to the shore. And the point-to-point wireless backhaul aggregates and backhauls all of the Wi-Fi and point-to-multipoint traffic back to the network operations center across the city.
Proxim is the only company that provides the ability to deploy this kind of integrated, end-to-end broadband wireless ecosystem. Other companies provide one or two pieces of the puzzle (Wi-Fi, WiMAX, or wireless backhaul), but then you have to find another vendor for the other pieces. Or worse, a vendor without all the pieces will convince you that you can use one technology for the entire deployment. Like the saying goes — if all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.
At Proxim, our complete wireless broadband portfolio gives our customers the freedom to pick and choose the right technologies (or mix of technologies) for any given application, rather than forcing them to compromise. And because all of our products — across the entire portfolio — were designed from the ground up to work together, they can rest assured that the system will integrate and work together seamlessly with one single management console.
2. How can operators learn and expand on the deployment?
Because of the interoperability and scalability of Proxim’s solutions, at any time the network can easily be expanded to meet new and greater application performance demands. For now, the deployment is sufficient to provide Wi-Fi access to recreational boaters as well as point-to-point connectivity to commercial ships. The connectivity to the commercial ships is enough to support Wi-Fi to passengers, stream video, and handle VoIP calls. If at any time the usage of all of these services
increased beyond the capacity of the existing networks, additional Proxim point-to-multipoint radios could be deployed along the shoreline to provide additional capacity.
3. What does this type of deployment show to operators, with regards to the integration of both a smart grid application and end-user applications?
This isn’t really a smart grid deployment/application. In terms of end-user applications, though, it provides a clear illustration of the performance and cost benefits of point-to-point, unlicensed WiMAX over satellite services (which is what vessels have traditionally used to stay connected while on the water). Satellite services can cost up to 10x the amount of point-to-point wireless solutions, while providing far less performance. With point-to-multipoint, operators are free to offer
a full line of services to commercial ships including Wi-Fi connectivity, the ability to stream video to their passengers (i.e., a ferry being able to stream the news for commuter passengers), and VoIP calls (which is important, because many areas of the Bay have poor cell reception). Satellite service can provide basic connectivity for ships, but will not support the additional services, therefore limiting vessels to what they can offer their passengers.
4. What other applications can Proxim equipment be used for?
The end-to-end nature of Proxim’s product portfolio enable us to provide the perfect wireless broadband for a wide variety of applications, including last mile and rural broadband connectivity, wireless video surveillance and security applications, wireless for intelligent transportation systems (ITS), public safety applications, cellular/4G wireless backhaul, indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi and much more.
5. What does the future hold for Proxim in the WiMAX space?
At Proxim, we provide both WiMAX and unlicensed point-to-multipoint solutions, which gives us the ability to provide both mobile
connectivity (like constantly moving ships in the SF Bay deployment, all the way to high-speed trains and emergency responder vehicles) as well
as fixed wireless applications. While the mobile connectivity aspect of WiMAX is extremely cool, there are also a ton of interesting fixed WiMAX and point-to-multipoint deployment scenarios as well. In fact, the fixed WiMAX market continues to be larger than the mobile WiMAX market, though it tends to get less attention because the deployments are not as sexy.
Popular fixed WiMAX applications include wireless video surveillance (using WiMAX or unlicensed point-to-multipoint to backhaul video
surveillance traffic), last mile and rural broadband connectivity (using a combination of unlicensed or licensed WiMAX and point-to-point
wireless backhaul to provide cost-effective broadband to rural areas), intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and more. Moving forward, we will continue to enable both fixed and mobile WiMAX applications. And in the near future, we will be expanding our fixed, unlicensed WiMAX solutions for WISPs, which will further empower them to deploy cost-effective rural broadband networks and help fulfill the National Broadband Plan’s goal of connecting rural America.
6. What will Proxim’s market position be once LTE becomes readily available?
Just as with today’s mobile WiMAX networks, Proxim’s 4G wireless backhaul products are ideally suited for backhauling tomorrow’s LTE networks. We continue to believe that WiMAX and LTE is not an either/or proposition, and that neither of the technologies will “win” over the other. In fact, both WiMAX and LTE can and likely will play equally important roles in the future of wireless networks. Today, it seems as though both technologies will become viable 4G access technologies,
while WiMAX still maintains its position as an ideal backhaul technology as well.
In some locations, people will only have access to WiMAX for 4G access. In others, they will only have the option of LTE for 4G access. And insome locations, (in 2012-2013), consumers will be lucky enough to have the option to chose either WiMAX or LTE networks. In those cases, just as we see with today’s 3G networks, people will make their choices based on which provider they trust most or which service they’ve received the best recommendations for – but it is highly unlikely that either will displace each other. And the fact of the matter is, even if WiMAX does not become the next wireless access technology of choice, it would still has a very important role to play as a backhaul technology for both 4G and Wi-Fi networks worldwide. WiMAX was originally designed as a wireless backhaul technology to begin with, and it is especially well suited for that task. So, as LTE networks begin to roll out, it is extremely likely that WiMAX technologies will also be used as the wireless backhaul for those networks, while LTE provides the access. And as advances are made in high-performance outdoor Wi-Fi, again, WiMAX will play a key role as the