Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi bridges digital divide in Mongolia

Internet service provider Nomsys chooses Ruckus Wi-Fi equipment to brings wireless connectivity to 70% of Ulaanbaatar’s one million residents in poor, rural areas

Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi bridges digital divide in Mongolia

Nomsys LLC, an Internet service provider based in Mongolia, has selected Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi products and technology to create the largest Wi-Fi access network in Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaanbaatar.

The Wi-Fi network, known as the Community Involved Nomad Wi-Fi project, is currently being deployed by Nomsys throughout Ulaanbaatar, bringing Wi-Fi service to consumers and businesses via hundreds of Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the rural countryside where 70% of the city’s one million residents live. 

Limited fixed line cabling coupled with erratic cellular coverage and performance has made it nearly impossible to provide reliable electronic communication in places such as Mongolia. The goal of the Nomad Wi-Fi project is to make Wi-Fi access easy and ubiquitous within underdeveloped rural areas of the city’s capital, for people who barely have essentials others take for granted, such as electricity, within their tents and houses.

To build out its network footprint with wireless points of presence, Nomsys is deploying Ruckus indoor and outdoor access points (APs) in the city’s suburbs as well as providing free Wi-Fi access points to select families that will, in turn, use that device to provide paid wireless access to others within a given area.

Delivering broadband wireless access in Mongolia

Because Mongolia is sparsely populated and a significant portion of the population still lives a nomadic lifestyle, it has been extremely difficult for many traditional information technologies to make headway into Mongolian society. Wireless technologies have had greater success and are becoming increasingly common, even in rural areas. 

According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), penetration of fixed line broadband reached 2.6 inhabitants per capita within Mongolia. Wi-Fi is a key technology that is helping Mongolia increase accessibility to telecommunications and bypass fixed-line infrastructure.

In the outer areas of Ulaanbaatar, Wi-Fi connectivity has become a necessity as 3G and WIMAX networks have proven to be cost-prohibitive – both for carriers needing to install the required infrastructure, and for users who must purchase special receivers to get connectivity.

‘The rural areas of Ulaanbaatar are very densely populated, and people who live there have very low income,’ said Nomsys founder and CEO, Bat-Erdene Gankhuyag G.Bat-Erdene. ‘For a majority of households there is no running water, central heating, and no sewage system. To require them to purchase costly equipment in order to gain cellular connectivity is just not plausible, which is why Wi-Fi is the ideal solution. Also, the involvement of the community itself is the key to success.’

Ruckus equipment

Over 250 indoor and outdoor Ruckus ZoneFlex 7762 and ZoneFlex 7762-AC outdoor APs are being deployed throughout the countryside, as well as ZoneFlex 7962 indoor APs in various hotels and other city centre locations in Ulaanbaatar. Point-to-multipoint wireless bridges enable broadband capacity to be injected in areas far away from city centers.

ZoneDirector 3000 wireless LAN (WLAN) controllers are being used to control individual hotspots, and Nomsys manages the entire network through the Ruckus FlexMaster platform, which G.Bat-Erdene says makes overseeing the network extremely easy.

The root APs are connected to a fibre optic network, developed in the city by Nomsys, and then meshed to five or six APs, all within a single hop. ‘So far we’re seeing really solid performance. We’re supporting upwards of 50,000 devices connected, and at peak usage times as many as 600 concurrent users have accessed the network,’ said G.Bat-Erdene.

Ulaanbaatar is the coldest capital in the world, where temperatures in the winter can reach -45 degrees Celsius. Ruckus ZoneFlex outdoor APs have internal heaters and a hard exterior coating to keep them and the network protected from these kinds of extreme, harsh weather conditions.

G.Bat-Erdene said that as Nomsys expands the network, it is testing the performance and reliability of Ruckus ZoneFlex outdoor APs in downtown areas, and also plan to install more Ruckus APs at additional commercial businesses and implement at G-PON technology this year.

Written by Wireless magazine
Wireless magazine

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