Last Mile, Fixed Wireless PoC

Challenge: Internet access is a present-day essential. Businesses in rural areas starve for high-speeds, but it is typically out of reach since service providers can’t justify a business case to run fiber everywhere. Fixed wireless provides a cost-effective option to establish the link, and creates revenue opportunities through the often overlooked rural businesses and residents. The project objective was to prototype a Fixed Wireless last mile access solution and evaluate technical viability to support the business case.

Solution: As a Network Systems Architect, our SME helped the employing company by developing typical use cases of the installation. This includes voice calls, video streaming, collaboration, and file transfer. Test tools such as JPERF and xiaChariot were set up to enable UDP and TCP testing between the user endpoint client through the wireless backhaul to the data center server. The mobile test station included a Customer Premise Equipment (CPE), where the wireless antenna terminates. A switch behind it enabled connectivity of multiple portable computers to emulate multiple users operations of a small business, to examine overall users experience when working simultaneously.  The CPE had a POTS phone connection as well. A Cradle Point device provided cellular VPN tunnel to remotely connect to the test server. It also provided a backup connection for voice data to ensure that business deploying such system are not completely isolated in case the fixed wireless link is down.

A series of towers provided wireless backhaul to a base tower with redundant transport carrier back to the datacenter. Wherein, the core routers which were configured to provide internet access to the end user. The farthest test tower from the base tower, in the wireless transport backhaul, is expected to have the least speed. Test points were chosen at a mile distance, in most cases, on three sectors from the test tower. Speed tests were run against a specific public server. All test cases showed excellent user experience, along with voice quality scores for landline and mobile phones.