Mike, 802.11 defines a protocol that is limited in range. There is a licensed version at 3.7GHz. Is that the one you are referring to?
WiMax can be, and is, used for longer distance backhaul in many situations. The issue with all of these is that the spectrum is unlicensed. This can cause lots of unwanted interference that may not be anticipated.
Range is everything. Receiving signals is far easier than transmitting them. Base stations can be powerful. But, if the data is bundled and can be sent quickly, then you only have to be in range with your weak transmitter for a moment (one moment = .0123ms) to transfer the needed data.
We have done a lot with brief contact in the past, so I can see this being standard operating procedure in the future. Plus, we are using the grid to handle signals in limited areas, rooms, buildings, etc. We can look for other means to handle data over short distance, such as ceiling tile hangers, concrete rebars, metal wall studs, etc. Find me metal, and I can send a signal.
When metal's not available, that's when it gets interesting. Eventually (hopefully sooner rather than later), we're going to have to worry about Ethernet Connectivity over interplanetary ranges. The lag time for lunar transmissions is almost usable, but when we talk about further out, some unique things will have to be done to keep probes and habitats connected.
I always like reading about how older technologies find a home in new applications. As a test engineer we were always incorporating new customer requirements into our designs - and we never wanted to discount our exisiting technology as an option. It was always critical to understand what type of environment our test sets were going into, as well as the sensor and data collection requirements. It sounds like there are several great possibilities with ethernet technology and obviously each application will need to be evaluated individually to determine which solution makes the best sense.
Mike, Thanks for the interesting post. You guys are doing interesting work on how to incorporate powerful intelligent sensors and it's obvious the impact of the technology will be far reaching. Thanks for the excellent overview of options going forward to incorporate intelligent sensors via Ethernet.
With respect to wireless range, small games with the 802.11 stack can enable long range wireless bridge connections with outstanding bandwidth. Antenna design and installation then become the crux of the issue. Search on long range WiFi and you'll find documenation of tens and even hundreds of km. Slightly outside the protocol, but an excellent application of off-the-shelf technology.
My crystal ball is hinting strongly that WiFi and cellular are going to carry the bits and bytes of the lions share wireless machine to machine communications - on this planet anyway.
I was very intrigued by these wireless Ethernet bridges as they will make a great fit for many of my clients applications pushing Ethernet data past 100m. It is amazing how quickly technology evolves and forms to our everyday business, commerical, and household needs.
In regards to pairing these devices with Ethernet extenders, this strikes me as one of the better routes to pursue rather than using fiber which can be extremely costly when trenching or acquiring permits. Of course, each application and infrastructure varies but I have discovered an excellent, made in the U.S.A., brand of Ethernet extenders pioneered by a company called Enable-IT, or better known as "The Ethernet Extension Experts." I have had hands-on experience installing these devices with my customer's projects and I, along with my clients, have been more than thrilled with the ease-of-installation, versatility, and performance of these extenders on their existing networks. Many instances include WiFi AP's, Ethernet switches, and even PoE powered IP cameras which are all run off the RJ-45 LAN ports on the extenders.
Anyways, I just wanted to share my experience using extenders and offer any advice for anyone that may wish to follow the same route.
These wireless bridges look very slick. Wireless signals reaching out to a few kilometers is excellent.
In regards to James, I have actually used extenders from Enable-IT before, in particular, their PoE extenders were a perfect solution for extending power and data to remote IP cameras almost 2,000ft away from my network switch. I had tried other extenders before but the performance and throughput were very poor and a few of the units I bought burned out after a month of use. When I tried to call and get tech support I could never get someone on hte phone to talk to, this was very frustrating. Turns out they were a Chinese manufacturer and that's probably why the devices were so cheap compared to others on the market. I guess you get what you pay for.
On another note, I read an article about Chinese manufacturers and technical products that they were producing have back-entry security where they can download and access all your personal information stored on the device. Apparently, the U.S. gov't purchased numerous products with these back-door breeches installed for military applications; there have even been cases where major U.S. infrastructures were breached such as: power facilities, water treatment plants, petroleum sites, and manufacturing sectors. Pretty scary to think these products are installed all over our country and we are just finding out this information. Makes us think twice before buying overseas products and instead purchase home-grown products from U.S. manufacturers which there aren't enough of anymore.
It won't be too much longer and hardware design, as we used to know it, will be remembered alongside the slide rule and the Karnaugh map. You will need to move beyond those familiar bits and bytes into the new world of software centric design.
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