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Wireless Networking Intel Hardware

Intel Wi-Fi Provides 6 Mbps Over 100 km 77

Posted by kdawson
from the talk-much-laugh-often-tip-well dept.
MIT Technology Review describes a new Wi-Fi router from Intel capable of sending a Wi-Fi signal tens of miles with 6-Mbps performance. This is perfect for rural areas without Internet service, and for less developed countries interested in building out their Internet infrastructure but no means to lay expensive cable or fiber optics. The routers cost about $500 each, and you need two of them for a point-to-point connection. Quoting: "Intel's RCP platform rewrites the communication rules of Wi-Fi radios. Galinvosky explains that the software creates specific time slots in which each of the two radios listens and talks, so there's no extra data being sent confirming transmissions. 'We're not taking up all the bandwidth waiting for acknowledgments,' he says. Since there is an inherent trade-off between the amount of available bandwidth and the distance that a signal can travel, the more bandwidth is available, the farther a signal can travel."
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Intel Wi-Fi Provides 6 Mbps Over 100 km

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  • still too expensive (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @08:13AM (#22793976) Homepage
    When a pair of linksys routers, 2 old and free Dish network dishes and $30.00 worth of parts can to the exact same thing.

    Even if they were available when I helped start a community wifi, we would not use them. they are too expensive. We are getting WRT54GL routers for $50.00 each, and tere is a never ending supply of free dish network dish assemblies with mounts.
    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @08:33AM (#22794098) Homepage Journal
      Yup. You can often get Dish network dishes from Freecycle [freecycle.org], and worse comes to worse, I've seen them at yard sales for as little as $5 or so. Throw DD-WRT on a pair of Linksys routers, get the dishes and then follow these or similar instructions [binarywolf.com] and there you go. The whole deal will cost you under $200.
      • by Jon_S (15368) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @10:44AM (#22795348)
        I know this is /. and you aren't supposed to RTFA, but I did anyway. It's not just the hardware. They redid the commnication protocols from scratch also that greatly increases the speed over these distances. Your Linksys routers will still be doing regular wi-fi.
        • As I said, install DD_WRT. In addition to adjusting transmitter power, it also allows you to tweak your wifi connection using stuff like packet aggregation, compression, channel bonding and so forth. Maybe the Intel RCP improves things greatly, maybe it doesn't. I'm not too optimistic.

    • by WebCowboy (196209)
      When a pair of linksys routers, 2 old and free Dish network dishes and $30.00 worth of parts can to the exact same thing.

      You don't even need to do such a hack job either. My parents receive 2 to 3 Mb/s rural internet service over a distance in excess of 10 km using off-the-shelf equipment provided by their ISP, purchased for much less than $500 about 5 years ago. I even think that the bandwidth is limited upstream of the wireless link (ie. the wireless technology is capable of more than the bandwidth they
  • There are so many areas within range of regional cities that only have dialup.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      Yes, but that's 6 mbps split between everybody who wants to use it. Let's say you have a small town with 400 computers. And lets say that 1/4 of them want to go online at the same time. So, we have 6 mbps / 100 users, and you have 60 kbps per user. Which ends up being not that much faster than your average dial-up service. Using wireless is like hooking everybody up to a single hub. The bandwidth gets shared between all the users. Works great when you have 4 people sharing a 10 mbit LAN connection to
      • by rmadmin (532701) <rmalek@homeco d e .org> on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @09:29AM (#22794522) Homepage
        Actually, bandwidth scales much better than this. I used to run 600~ Cable modems at 256Kbps on 4 T1s. That happens to work out to 6Mbit. Towards the end we were peaking often, but overall it worked ok. 400 Users at 200Kbps is reasonable in my experience. And 200Kbps is far better than dialup if it's your only choice. =)
        • by clarkn0va (807617)
          I worked for an ISP for a while that was reselling bandwidth at a ratio of approximately 30:1. In other words, selling 1mbps to their customers with a 3mbps uplink. We never saw that 3mbps peak out until we had about 90 customers online.

          db
      • by Dan541 (1032000)
        Its not going to be a replacement for ADSL and cable but it is an alternative for places where broadband is not available via cable.

        I know a few people on remote properties that could benefit from this, the furthest being 120KMs from town. While that's out of range it would be possible to link the routers to the other two properties forming a relay back to the town or even extend to the two road houses that are another 50 or KM from town. 6 Mbit between 3-5 properties still isn't bad and these arnt the sort
      • by kgwilliam (998911)
        In a rural area where broadband isn't available, how often do you think 1/4th of the people will be online at the same time? And when they are online, how often do you think they are using a significant amount of bandwidth? A rural area like this has far different computer users than even a small town where broadband is available. These are people who only have a computer to check for emails from their friends and relatives and occasionally look at some pictures of grandkids. They are generally online o
  • by transporter_ii (986545) * on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @08:18AM (#22794000) Homepage
    Didn't read TFA yet, but I know this will work fine with two units, you just set one to provide sync. But if you have four units in an area, they can interfere with each other. What you can do then is add a gps unit to the AP side, sync to that, and all four units Tx/Rx at the same time. So MIT really just created a Wi-Fi Canopy system...or what WiMax will be if it is ever released.

    The biggest issue is that 2.4, with only 3 non-overlaping channels, is it almost unusable for long distance shots. I'm working in a WISP that has some 2.4 and it will make you pull your hair out. At one tower, in somewhat of a rural area, we could see 121 different SSIDs from an omni antenna a couple of hundred feet off the ground.

    At 500.00 a unit, I doubt this will see high deployment, but if all of these things don't play nice with each other, it will be yet more interference.

    And last, 2.4 could already do ten miles easy already, and much cheaper. You could build a Mikrotik AP for 600.00ish and have 20 clients at 10 miles for 200ish a client unit, if they are all line of sight. But note that you have stretched 2.4 well beyound what it was designed for, and in no time you will understand exactly why WISPs startup and fold like crazy...and the only people who made ANY money are the ones who sold you the equipment.

    Transporter_ii
    • by transporter_ii (986545) * on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @08:52AM (#22794222) Homepage
      The problem with Canopy, as it is designed, is that the tower sites cost a fortune because the APs only have 60 degrees of coverage and, as designed, it would take 6 APs (900.00 to 1,500.00 each) to have 360 degree coverage. But it is possible to connectorize the APs and use far less APs by adding antennas with more coverage. If you can stomach that, you can get client units for less than 300.00. And add an aftermarket sync unit (200.00 - 300.00), and you can have multiple APs and clients not interfere with each other (just hope the other guy in town with Canopy syncs his equipment).

      Let me tell you, two to three times, I have been involved in a 2.4 build-out. Each time it went like this. You spend a lot of time and money going around and swapping out that "expensive" Canopy equipment for the much cheaper 2.4 equipment. Everything works fine for about four days to a week. You run back and swap a few people back to that "expensive" Canopy equipment for various reasons...but within six months, when the crap hits the fan for some reason, and you have to have help scrambling to find enough Canopy equipment to put everyone back on...because its the only thing that "just works." It may not be perfect, but it does work.

      After it saves your ass a few times, that Canopy equipment doesn't seem so expensive.

      Transporter_ii

      • by mrbcs (737902)
        If you have less than 200 clients on an ap, try the Cyclone ap's from lastmilegear.com They're way cheaper, don't need a cmm and are very durable.

        I've been running off of one for almost 3 years now with very few issues. 99.9% uptime.

      • by Feyr (449684)
        we have a whole deployment of expensive motorola canopy, and it's still a piece of shit that gets disturbed at the slighest sign of interference or the wind blows it 0.5 degree out of aligment and the signal drops to zero

        it's better in the 5.7 band, but even more expensive. you can't win with wireless
        • by adolf (21054)
          Weird.

          I've got many Canopy links at 5.7GHz which have been working at ranges averaging in the realm of 12 miles (the longest is 17 miles) for about four years without adjustment. These are mounted to things like the handrail on top of a grain elevator, or on non-penetrating mounts on the top of tall industrial buildings -- places I was sure that either vibration or ice accumulation would push things around in no time. It's been fine.

          I've also got a handful of 2.4GHz links which are not quite line-of-sight
          • by Feyr (449684)
            12 miles over 5.7? how the hell do you do that? we're lucky to get 4 with the reflector and even then the rssi drops to 600. we've heard of one trick to boost the signal but since it's illegal, no one wants to give it away :)
            • by adolf (21054)
              We just -- uh -- did it. :) Some more information:

              We've only got two wide-spread (read: county-wide) networks that we maintain. On one, the access points are mounted near the middle of a 90-foot tower which is atop a 12-story office building, which is by far the tallest structure in the vicinity, but it sits near the bottom of a natural valley within an otherwise-flat landscape. The APs are only up around 120 feet, with topology taken into consideration.

              The other network (which covers another entire coun
              • by Feyr (449684)
                that makes a lot of sense. you're right in that we're trying to cater to joe average. and also on the height: we're much lower in a county with lots of trees and hills so that cuts our range. unfortunately, 2.4 is totally unusable, or barely usable in the less dense counties (300-1000 persons). we'd need something like an ap every 2km to overcome the barrage of crap

                i certainly wouldn't have picked canopy since it's so expensive, but it was imposed to us by the boss (he had a friend who could get us realllll
    • by photon317 (208409)

      Syncing to GPS alone could be an issue for wide adopting as a last-mile technology though. It would really suck if intermittent GPS failure (due to extreme weather, military blackout, etc) caused everyone's last-mile links to malfunction due to bad timing. The situation could be remedied by ensuring the APs also have a very stable monotonic clock source to run from between GPS syncs, but it has to be stable enough to support your wireless timing at sufficient precision for hours or more. That will add co
  • Perfect..... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rolfwind (528248) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @08:19AM (#22794006)
    if you don't require privacy. Hopefully, they put in an extremely good encryption scheme with this and not one merely "good 'nough'. Still a good leap forward in many areas, our country is way behind as it is, and it has next to nothing to do with population density for the east and west coasts many areas of which has poor, overpriced service as well.

    I often wondered what is stopping a mesh network from spreading. It would be basically the type which the OLPC has, except essentially a router with an antenna could be put on top of your house and connect with others of its type, from spreading. Of course, there would have to be a central hub connected into a fat pipe every so often so the signal doesn't hop around like mad.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Agripa (139780)

      I often wondered what is stopping a mesh network from spreading. It would be basically the type which the OLPC has, except essentially a router with an antenna could be put on top of your house and connect with others of its type, from spreading.

      I have done a little work on this problem over the years and I suspect there is just a lack of all the necessary pieces for a good high performance mesh network solution. Here are some ideas off the top of my head while ignoring economic and political reasons:

      1. Cu

    • if you don't require privacy. Hopefully, they put in an extremely good encryption scheme with this and not one merely "good 'nough'.

      Don't rely on wireless encryption - they all seem to fall eventually.

      Use TLS/SSH/VPN as needed and taunt the script kiddies to thwart you. OK, maybe skip the taunting part.
  • The routers cost about $500 each, and you need two of them for a point-to-point connection.

    Well.. Duh.
  • The catch (Score:5, Funny)

    by A beautiful mind (821714) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @08:27AM (#22794052)
    The connection can only be established between two nuclear power stations.
  • It seems that discovering hot water goes a long way.

    While my friends enjoy 21km link using two 20Eur Atheros-based WiFi cards pluged in PC's (routers) running linux, I just don't see what's the big fuss. Not to mention that You can buy a pair of routers for 50Eur and do the same trick using DD-WRT firmware and two parabolic 19-24dBi antenas.

    You won't get my $500 for that box.
    • by IhuntCIA (1099827)
      I can't agree more.
      This [nswireless.org] works more than fine. It is not the first time long range have been achieved using WiFi equipment.
      I'm not saying that Intel's routers are bad. This one looks like it can survive the ice age. If they could get it under $200...
  • Bad article summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by j.a.mcguire (551738) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @08:52AM (#22794224)
    This is poorly summed up, the point of this is not the range or the speed, its the fact that it only uses 6Watts firing data at that range and speed and could use stand alone, solar powered units to maintain data links.
  • by ruin20 (1242396)
    I go back to the first poster alternative about cheaper alternatives, I've seen some extremely interesting work with mesh networks, and they provide a level of redundancy not present in this system. And that's important if your going to talk Canopy or WiMax or something because now your talking about infrastructure. If you have one tower covering this kind of range imagine the amount of customers a failure effects. We can create mesh networks with existing technology and for a lot less money.
  • Not New or News (Score:1, Informative)

    by BillyBob23 (1149813)
    There are dozens of companies (MikroTik) that has been selling technology like this for a very long time. This summer I worked in Mountain Home AR for VistaVox wireless. Using $250 worth of equipment (router, cable, dish, mounts, etc) we were able to provide 18Mbs/s connections up to 30 miles. If you check the MikroTik forum you will find people who have sent signals 150+ miles using similar equipment to what we used this summer.
  • "Galinvosky explains that the software creates specific time slots in which each of the two radios listens and talks, so there's no extra data being sent confirming transmissions. 'We're not taking up all the bandwidth waiting for acknowledgments,' he says."

    Doh .. Huge difference in the later early modem data transfer protocols was (1) variable packet size (if noise went up, packet size would drop down) and (most important): No ACK/NAK! Sender just sent as fast as its little chips could push the data out.
  • "Intel's RCP platform rewrites the communication rules of Wi-Fi radios. Galinvosky explains that the software creates specific time slots in which each of the two radios listens and talks, so there's no extra data being sent confirming transmissions."
    So they've re-invented TDMA?
  • Oh look, we've got Token Ring for wireless!
  • The summary says:

    'We're not taking up all the bandwidth waiting for acknowledgments,' he says. Since there is an inherent trade-off between the amount of available bandwidth and the distance that a signal can travel, the more bandwidth is available, the farther a signal can travel.

    I'm confused - in what way are bandwidth and the distance a signal can travel related?

    • I think it is a matter of that fact that your signal strength goes down with distance. The less the contrast is between the signal and the background noise the more often you'll have to resend things so your effective bandwidth goes down. I think you still can transmit at full speed, it just won't all get there which usually won't be useful to you (you might be better off skipping a frame if your streaming video rather than going back for the missing one but in most cases you want all the data to get to the
  • That's great, now stop being cheap and install the fibre optic lines we all want, we've paid enough in call charges, access charges and any other charges you can think of. We don't want over-the-air hacker bonanza, we want lines that don't encourage every script kiddie with a WiFi receiver to try their luck.
  • What would be the ping on these beauties?
  • I was on the road touring all week with my band "The LeperKhanz", and we really wanted to surf the web while we were driving, since you are usually stuck with nothing to do while you are in the car. I'd love it if technology like this allowed you to get a wifi connection while you were moving down the freeway.
  • BRAIN CANCER!
  • It's only a matter of time before the issues are resolved and these babies start popping up all over the place. Free Internet everywhere! W00t!

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