Ruckus Wireless and Globalstar announced the successful results of new Wi-Fi testing this week (10 June 2013) that used a combination of unlicensed spectrum in the industrial scientific medical (ISM) band and Globalstar’s licensed mobile satellite services (MSS) spectrum.
ISM radio bands, where most public Wi-Fi traffic operates, are portions of the radio spectrum that have been reserved internationally for the use of radio frequency (RF) energy for purposes other than communications.
All tests were performed within the 2.4GHz band, using carrier-grade smart Wi-Fi equipment manufactured by Ruckus Wireless, and existing smartphones that were enabled to operate over the new channel via a remote firmware upgrade.
This new testing provides compelling proof of how quickly and dramatically terrestrial low power service (TLPS) can expand the nation’s wireless capacity to address the looming exhaustion of existing Wi-Fi spectrum.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the USA is currently freeing up satellite spectrum for terrestrial mobile broadband services to meet the ambitious goals of the country’s National Broadband Plan.
Former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has identified the ‘Wi-Fi Traffic Jam’ as a critical problem that should be solved, saying: ‘As consumer adoption of wireless devices continues to soar, Wi-Fi congestion is becoming a critical problem for consumers and innovators.’
‘There’s an insatiable demand for wireless capacity, whether in the licensed or unlicensed band,” said Bart Burstein, senior VP of field operations and business development for Ruckus Wireless. ‘The technical advances we have made in managing Wi-Fi signals to maximise performance enable us to support industry efforts, like those of Globalstar, to creatively help solve the wireless capacity crunch.’
What is Terrestrial Low Power Service?
Globalstar’s terrestrial low power service (TLPS) has been proposed to the FCC as a new 802.11-based service in the 2.4GHz band that enables a privately managed extension to the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band using adjacent licensed spectrum to support mobile broadband applications throughout the United States.
TLPS is expected to be a licensed service that is readily compatible with existing 802.11-compliant Wi-Fi devices, offering data speeds and distances that are far superior to those currently existing on public Wi-Fi channels.
TLPS represents an opportunity for suppliers of carrier-grade access points capable of supporting channel 14 within the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi frequency band to help eliminate the ‘critical problem’ that former chairman Genachowski identified. TLPS will be part of a Globalstar’s managed services offering, coordinated with its satellite services, and will utilize custom, carrier-grade access points to provide substantial ‘Wi-Fi offload’ capacity and a superior end user experience.
The Wi-Fi/TLPS testing, performed by Jarvinian, showed that combining Globalstar’s unlicensed ISM bands with 802.11-compliant, adaptive antenna array technology from Ruckus results in a carrier-grade service that vastly exceeds the performance of conventional public Wi-Fi.
According to Jarvinian, Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi technology helped to significantly increase Wi-Fi performance and signal range within the managed channel (14) while providing a better method of managing co-channel interference between access points.
‘We appreciate the work of the Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Engineering and Technology in issuing the experimental licenses that we needed to test and prove the tremendous potential that this service holds for a mobile-driven public,’ said Jay Monroe, chairman and CEO of Globalstar. ‘The testing builds a robust measurable technical foundation for discussions with prospective equipment providers and service partners.’
Ruckus Wireless played a key role in the success of the experiment. ‘The combination of the Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi equipment and TLPS exceeded expectations for distance and capacity while not interfering or degrading the existing traffic on traditional Wi-Fi channels,’ said John Dooley, managing partner and founder of Jarvinian.
‘Even in an indoor urban environment made difficult or otherwise unusable by spectral congestion, usable connections were established at 3-5 x the distance of public Wi-Fi. More critically, very high-speed connections were maintained much more uniformly and over significantly longer distances.’