What is Wireless Connectivity?

Wireless as a technology has matured from a cutting-edge “only-to-be-used-in-an-emergency” technology into mainstream and in many cases, primary means of providing connectivity.

wireless connectivity

Within any given metropolitan, suburban or rural area, broadband wireless access is by far the easiest and most cost-effective way to implement your high-performance network. Whether you’re creating a network from scratch, or need to augment or replace your existing wireline links, wireless access is the most reliable and cost-effective, high-speed data networking alternative you should know more about.

Understanding Line of Sight in Wireless Networks

Find below the main differences between LoS, nLoS and NLoS.

 

 
 
 

As you can see, the wireless equipment radiates out wider than a visual LoS. Therefore, there is a greater chance that the signal can be obstructed by objects as it travels to the end destination. Each link requires its own evaluation to determine whether a clear LoS can be achieved.

 

By understanding and calculating what is known as the Fresnel Zone, you can decide if your proposed wireless link will have sufficient signal strength for a reliable connection.

Licensed vs. Unlicensed Bands

There are two broad subsections within the greater wireless access technology family, simply unlicensed products and licensed products. Both have a vital role to fulfill and are viable technologies but they must be applied to the correct requirement.

 

Unlicensed wireless circuits may be deployed by any ECNS license holder as long as the equipment is type approved and ICASA regulations such as EIRP power outputs are adhered to. This means that any ECNS holder may offer connectivity using unlicensed wireless technologies.

 

The biggest disadvantage of using unlicensed technologies is simply the risk of interference from other devices using the same unregulated piece of spectrum. The choice to use unlicensed spectrum is one the service providers need to make, in areas where the noise floor is low (number of other devices in the area using the same spectrum) this becomes a good option. In areas where the noise floor is currently high or is likely to become high in the near future, this becomes a poor option.

 

The biggest advantage of using unlicensed technology is the relatively low cost. The attractiveness of the low cost makes sense in the correct area but the short-term benefits of low cost are not worth the risk in areas with a high noise floor. Anywhere in Gauteng, an unlicensed link may be a perfect option for a very small business using data services only but certainly not for anything bigger than a very small business. In the middle of Burgersfort, it may make sense for a big company to make use of unlicensed technology.

 

These important choices need to be made by the service providers and need to be understood by their customers. In areas with a relatively high noise floor licensed technologies are the only viable option. The good news here is that the cost of licensed band hardware is dramatically decreasing and the cost of spectrum to run a licensed wireless link is also decreasing.

Type of Internet Packages and Services

Bandwidth / Speed

Bandwidth is the primary measure of computer network speed. Virtually everyone knows the bandwidth rating of their modem or their Internet service that is prominently advertised on network products sold today.

 

In networking, bandwidth represents the overall capacity of the connection. The greater the capacity, the more likely that better performance will result. Bandwidth is the amount of data that passes through a network connection over time as measured in bits per second (bps).

So the whole bandwidth thing (like many things “computerish”) boils down to time vs. money decision. You can either spend the extra amount per month for a faster connection and spend less time waiting for things to download.

 

Cap / Usage

bandwidth cap, also known as a band cap, limits the transfer of a specified amount of data over a period of time. Internet service providers commonly apply a cap when a channel intended to be shared by many users becomes overloaded, or may be overloaded, by a few users. Implementation of a bandwidth cap is sometimes termed a Fair Access PolicyFair Usage Policy or Usage-based billing.

 

Although broadband caps are often so large that most users never come close to hitting them, services such as streaming video, file sharing and Internet radio often have the ability to easily push users over the limit. Those who use their broadband connections at high rates over long periods of time can impair the service of others.

 

 As a result, companies that enforce broadband caps have been accused of supporting the cable television channels that compete with streaming multimedia services, by restricting their customers’ unlimited access to streaming data. An alternative to broadband caps is usage-based billing, in which customers sign up for a particular tier of service and are charged more if they exceed certain limits.

 

  • Soft Cap Limit – If you buy a monthly data bundle of 5 gigs, in theory, your connection should become degraded and slower once you reach 5 gigs of data usage or use up your bandwidth. In practise, once your 5 gigs are used – your soft cap has been reached. A Soft cap means that once your limit has been reached you may still be able to use the service with some reduced functionality.
  • Hard Cap – Once your hard cap is reached your bandwidth is cut-off and your connection becomes unusable until the following month, or until you top-up your service.

Who are some of the top Wireless companies in the market?

  • Comsol
  • Liquid Telecom
  • BitCo
  • SkyWire

 

There is an association for Wireless Internet Services Providers which lists all registered members. You can access the list of members here: https://wapa.org.za/members/list

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