Magazine Article | December 1, 2005


Source: Field Technologies Magazine

This Internet service provider (ISP) increased its service area up to 5,000 square miles by adopting a non-line-of-sight wireless solution.

Integrated Solutions, December 2005

Rioplex Wireless Ltd., a 3-year-old wireless ISP specializing in wireless bandwidth for businesses, home offices, and municipal customers, realized that to remain competitive, it needed to expand its product line and offer its customers higher-capacity service. In addition to Internet connections, Rioplex Wireless provides services such as e-mail and Web hosting, as well as the equipment subscribers need to connect to its network services. Drew Lentz, network engineer at Rioplex Wireless, was charged with researching and testing possible service expansions.

Lentz wanted a system that was easy to deploy, provided non-line-of-sight or near-line-of-sight installations, was reliable, and included increased capacity. Non-line-of-sight, for Rioplex Wireless' purposes, is defined as a receiver that allows for a self-installation at the customer level. The unit can be plugged into a wall and a signal is acquired almost anywhere, without restrictions such as the direction of an antenna or a clear path to the transmission tower. On the other hand, near-line-of-sight requires the installation of an antenna pointed in the direction of the transmission tower. In this case, buildings or trees cannot obstruct the path to the tower.

While Rioplex Wireless had an existing non-line-of-sight broadband wireless system, it needed to complement that service to market to larger customers in a wider geographic area. Lentz met with several manufacturers to determine which equipment met Rioplex Wireless' criteria. That equipment was then tested on a small base station and subscriber units. It was then deployed to preferred customers. Based on customer feedback and system performance, Rioplex Wireless purchased the Alvarion BreezeACCESS VL system from distributor TESSCO Technologies. The BreezeACCESS VL system, comprised of customer premises equipment and subscriber units, enables high-speed wireless connections in non-line-of-sight conditions like congested urban areas.

"We chose the Alvarion product over others because of its effortless installation process, non-line-of-sight characteristics, and the reliability of the equipment," says Lentz. In this case, reliability was based on the number of outages experienced, stability of the link, and maintenance requests for the equipment. The solution included 21 base stations and took only two weeks to install, because Rioplex Wireless owns and operates its own tower erection and maintenance company.

"We went from offering services in approximately 4,000 square miles to covering 4 counties and over 5,000 square miles with distances up to 25 miles from our broadcast locations," says Lentz. Rioplex Wireless' antennae are now placed higher on its towers than any competing carrier in the area. This height and increased capacity of bandwidth give Rioplex Wireless the ability to offer services to an area that was previously unavailable or too expensive. It can now target customers having higher bandwidth requirements, such as large businesses, municipalities, and general subscribers looking for a dedicated higher-class service. The new equipment allows Rioplex Wireless to supply up to eight times the bandwidth it could previously offer. By adding this service, the ISP can reach many markets with speeds ranging up to 54 Mbps (megabits per second).