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Replacing Fiber With 10 Gigabit/Second Wireless 107

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the beam-will-also-cook-your-tv-dinner dept.
Chicken_dinner writes "Engineers at Battelle have come up with a way to send data through the air at 10 Gigabits per second using point-to-point millimeter-wave technology. They used standard optical networking equipment and essentially combined two lower bandwidth signals to produce a 10Gb signal from the interference. They say the technology could replace fiber optics around large campuses or companies or even deliver high-bandwidth streaming within the home."
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Replacing Fiber With 10 Gigabit/Second Wireless

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 03, 2008 @01:04PM (#25248055)

    so KFC then when a bird flies through the beam

    • backbone, try Meta-muse-ul to restore regularity between bottlenecks and freely-flowing packets...

    • Remember that radiation is distributed over the area of the dish so it is not that "hot" between the dishes.
      We have wireless ethernet because our ground here is like swiss cheese due to all of the construction so our wired connection was down alot so went with this new wireless ethernet service which offered 10Mbits up and down. According to the ISP the energy between the two antennas are about 4-watts, hardly "hot" unless put it on a very small point. High power is relative term when they put a number I do

  • by MobileMrX (855797) on Friday October 03, 2008 @01:12PM (#25248143)

    There are a lot of wireless technologies in use today that simply aren't reliable enough to be permanent replacements for their wired counterparts.

    My wireless home network gets frazzled when the microwave runs and cant go 30ft through walls without significant signal loss. Wireless keyboards and mice and bluetooth can never transmit as far as spec, and god forbid someone else use the same model in a 90 foot radius.

    I can't get my computer 20 feet away to pick up a wireless keyboard signal, but a wireless keyboard signal 50 ft away screws with mine?

    Cell phones which are older and probably have had more money than wireless networking thrown at them still use coverage and dropped calls as major advertising points.

    For now, my wired ethernet is faster and never has a problem, my wired keyboard and mouse always work (and dont need batteries), and a land line never drops a call. I am sure this wireless technology is great and useful, but using it as a replacement for fiber is probably a mistake.

    • by blueg3 (192743) on Friday October 03, 2008 @01:15PM (#25248191)

      While there's certainly a engineering difference between a prototype and a consumer-ready model, most of the problems you mention probably won't apply to this. It's point-to-point (so, line-of-sight) communications, so it will require an unobstructed path. However, proper transmitters and receivers for line-of-sight communications won't have nearly the sort of interference problems you experience with something like a Bluetooth. Line-of-sight communications also means you can use quite efficient antennae, so should get quite good range.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MobileMrX (855797)

        All of my experience with wireless devices is in consumer based products, I don't know a whole lot about point-to-point/line-of-sight wireless transmission -- I just assumed (don't hurt me!) that they were very similar.

        Based on your comment it sounds like this type of implementation would be more reliable than the wireless I am familiar with; I'm interested enough to do some reading on point-to-point wireless transmission in general and in other specific applications.

        Thanks for the info!

        • by Amouth (879122) on Friday October 03, 2008 @01:43PM (#25248547)

          what would be considred consumer grade wireless equipment can't hold a stick to true enterprice level equipment.

          you talk about your wifi dropping out - hey i have the same thing with my WRT54G... but all of the aironet equipment i use never has issues.. but hey my 54g was 50$ compared to 800$

          • Enterprice (Score:5, Funny)

            by rsborg (111459) on Friday October 03, 2008 @02:37PM (#25249247) Homepage
            Nice freudian slip... but totally true. Adding the word Enterprise to your product, you can charge like 1000% more. That's the Enterprice.
            • Yeah, we have "enterprise" class WiFi that was just installed here in our warehouses not even a year ago and we have constant, brief outages.

              And they paid probably about 500x what I would have paid for units at BestBuy.

          • by michrech (468134) on Friday October 03, 2008 @03:34PM (#25249993)

            I had lots of dropouts with my WRT54G also, until I switched *away* from the shit Linksys firmware to Tomato (currently running 1.07). It's been rock-solid ever since.

            Just my two cents.. ;)

            • by Amouth (879122)

              yea i have been thinking about doing that.. but i'm just so tired when i get home.. i might have to play with that this weekend.. or sleep.. humm can i do this in my sleep? j/k

            • You better update to Tomato 1.21 which fixes (not only that but at least) the DNS poisoning stuff in dnsmasq everybody was talking about in the past 3 months... Nice firmware by the way, I prefer it over DD-WRT for what I do with the router. ;)
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by blueg3 (192743)

          They're very different beasts.

          Unfortunately, as point-to-point or line-of-sight sort of implies, they're also completely useless in most consumer applications. Both transmitter and receiver have to point directly at one another. So it doesn't work like cellular, 802.11, BlueTooth, etc.

          In fact, it'll probably never make it to consumer devices. We have a tough enough time with satellite television, which is sort of a sloppy line-of-sight transmission.

          • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday October 03, 2008 @01:50PM (#25248639) Journal
            Don't be so sure. There are lots of villages in the UK where most houses have line of sight to, for example, the top of the local church tower, or a nearby hill. If you can put one endpoint on top of this and then just aim a pringles can (or equivalent) at it from each house then it's likely to be a lot cheaper than digging up the street. The same is true of university buildings - all of the ones on my campus have line of site to at least one other building, you could connect them all together without having to dig up the ground (again) or, more importantly, work out where all of the existing wires go.
            • by bfizzle (836992)

              Most well established Universities have tunnels to support steam infrastructure, which just happen to also make great infrastructure for fiber.

              Point-to-point is nice for the outlying buildings outside traditional infrastructure, but it will be a very long time before physical medium is replaced with a different technology.

              Even with high end equipment we have problems with vegetation and weather causing issue with our point-to-point devices.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by blueg3 (192743)

              I wouldn't consider university deployment to be consumer-grade.

              There are some situations, like what you mentioned, where a consumer-level device might be useful. (However, currently it's line-of-sight on both ends using low-frequency lasers. That would require one transceiver for each connected house on top of that church tower!)

              • by Trepidity (597)

                (However, currently it's line-of-sight on both ends using low-frequency lasers. That would require one transceiver for each connected house on top of that church tower!)

                This sounds like the premise for a B-movie that results in a convergence of a village worth of lasers on a church tower summoning Jesus and/or Satan.

            • That would be great until in came a bad storm. Wonder what heavy snow would do to line of sight connections...
              • I remember when AAPT first started as an alternative to the sole gov telecommunications provider with microwave radios. Storms were a problem, even heavy rain was an issue but in particular a tree that had a preservation order. In high winds it intermittently interrupted the main link between the central city and the main datacentre. As flaky as wireless may have been, it completely changed the face of telecommunications in Australia.
            • I guess a bird passing by the line of sight would then block the 10Gbps signal, isn't it? DDoS by birds. :)
          • I agree. I don't know how this compares with Free Space Optical communications, but the latter can get screwed up just from the typical swaying the top of a building experiences. It requires a real-time alignment system to keep both sides pointing at each other. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

      • by orielbean (936271)
        so how much for a wireless PTP with a distance of 5-10 miles vs hard-wired fiber for 5-10??
      • by nahdude812 (88157) *

        If you have line of sight, couldn't you use a laser? It would be harder to snoop on, much more bandwidth (heck, run a bunch of them side by side) and if sufficiently covered, it should be worry free from things like snow accumulation, and shouldn't have nearly as much to worry about in terms of interference. Plus using sufficient quality lasers, you could get way more distance out of it too.

        • by blueg3 (192743)

          It is a laser -- just in the microwave spectrum instead of visible-light. Both are not trivial to snoop on. (Not like 802.11 wireless.)

      • by walt-sjc (145127)

        most of the problems you mention probably won't apply to this. It's point-to-point (so, line-of-sight) communications, so it will require an unobstructed path.

        Yes - it will work GREAT then in the snow, rain, swarms of locusts, etc.

        Not sure how it's going to be useful in a home environment either where very little is in a straight line / unobstructed.

        No, just like EVERY OTHER wireless technology that claims it will replace physical cables (and really can't,) this one too will only be useful in very few situa

        • by blueg3 (192743)

          Well, it won't be useful in a home environment. Why do you assume it will? The article doesn't suggest that. It even mentions particular situations where this technology is useful.

      • by Chas (5144)

        Even LOS wireless technologies have their problems. How do you keep the LOS during inclement weather and one end or another is getting the effects of wind shear?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bigjarom (950328)

      ...someone else use the same model in a 90 foot radius

      This made me laugh. I had to stop using a wireless mouse at school because I got so much 'noise' from the other 20 or 30 wireless mouses in the same classroom.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DeadManCoding (961283)
      Yes, interference from other devices suck. Yes, range on a lot of those wireless devices also sucks. But you also need to look at this from the reverse angle.

      I run a wireless network at home that goes through 4 walls before it hits my girlfriend's computer, and no problems there. Small house, yes, but it still works. I also have a wireless keyboard and mouse. Replacing batteries does suck, but when you're only replacing them once a month, it's really not that bad. Your experience with wireless has
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by MobileMrX (855797)

        Don't get me wrong, I still use a lot of wireless devices and they are a great tool! I use it at home for my network and I can browse easily and usually play online games without trouble. I still, and this is the key part here, don't replace my ethernet line to my web server or anything else I'd like to use with some sort of reliability.

        That's what they are talking about here (replacing what would have been a fiber network with wireless), which I was at first against. However, according to a reply to my

    • by timbck2 (233967)

      We have a similar problem in our house, which is a 1938 adobe (with 18" thick walls). Wireless signals have a hard time penetrating that!

      I solved the problem by adding a few Airport Express devices (as repeaters) to our Airport network.

    • by Sentry21 (8183)

      I haven't had any of the problems you've described, but I've got some input on them.

      1a) If your microwave is interfering with your wireless network, you need a new microwave, or you need to move your wireless router. A properly shielded microwave won't spew enough radiation far enough to interfere with a proper network (I used to use my laptop next to the microwave while reheating things, with no problems).
      1b) You could always upgrade to 802.11n and run on the 5 GHz band, which is less susceptible to interf

    • Wireless keyboards and mice and bluetooth can never transmit as far as spec, and god forbid someone else use the same model in a 90 foot radius.

      The way it is designed, bluetooth supposedly fixes the interference with other models problem.
      It has a lot of channels to hop between (and starting from version 1.2 of the standard is even able to reduce interferences to/from Wifi), and once two device are paired they know exactly to which each has to talk : you could have dozens in the same room each will correctly talk to the exact one to which it is paired.
      In my current work, there are at least a dozen of bluetooth enabled device around (including PDAs,

    • by evilviper (135110)

      and a land line never drops a call

      My wireless home network gets frazzled when the microwave runs and cant go 30ft through walls without significant signal loss.

      My satellite dish keeps dropping my TV signal. Clearly, satellite communications are a failed technology that will never catch on. That must explain why nobody, anywhere, wants to put up any satellites. It's wires across the globe for me!

    • and a land line never drops a call

      Yes, unless you're making any long-distance calls. Boy are they unreliable! What with being relayed between hundreds of microwave towers... Hence "MCI" WorldCom (formerly: Microwave Communications, Inc.).

      My wireless home network gets frazzled when the microwave runs and cant go 30ft through walls without significant signal loss.

      My satellite dish keeps dropping my TV signal. Clearly, satellite communications are a failed technology that will never catch on. That must expl

  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Friday October 03, 2008 @01:16PM (#25248199) Journal

    This sounds good, but it's definitely going to be a limited usage technology. Putting in backhauls to a remote telco might be a real option. The biggest concerns are:

    1. this seems to be line of sight only, so no broadcasting HDTV from a closet to the TV
    2. point to point means backhaul only, distribution would still be by copper/fiber/wifi
    3. mm waves are subject to attenuation by atmospherics, so "rain fade" might be a stumbling block
    4. line of sight limits maximum distance between receiver/transmitters due to earth curvature

    All in all it's a great leap to get higher bit density over wireless, but this is clearly a commercial-level component...us peons won't get to use it.

    • 1. this seems to be line of sight only, so no broadcasting HDTV from a closet to the TV

      How about keeping your HDTV in the closet, then? I'm sure Tom Cruise would love that!!

      • by adept89 (1375017)

        Ahahaha. And R. Kelly. I'm sure they both get bored every now and then, in that closet.

    • #3 was the first thing that came to my mind when i read it was a PTP wireless beam. the article doesn't really discuss the issue, but i would imagine snow/rain/fog/humidity/(hail?) could be potential problems.

      however, when people generally speak of mm-wave, aren't they talking about non-directional radio waves? since this is a directional beam produced by two lasers, couldn't it have different properties from conventional mm-waves? from what i can gather, mm-waves around the ~60 GHz range are the most prone

  • Its about time.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bobs666 (146801)

    Its about time.... 10 MegaBits would do.
    There are a lot of homes that the Broadband
    suppliers will not touch, the 12 people on
    my street are only a few 10/th of a mile from
    a main back bone... But There is noting but
    dial up here...

    So who is going to supply cheap hardware and
    backbone connections.. that should put the big
    Broadband suppliers out of business.

    • Not sure where you live, but keep an eye out for http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wimax [wikipedia.org] Won't put broadband suppliers out of business, but will provide broadband to remote areas where no DSL, Cable or Fiber is available.
      • by bobs666 (146801)
        I live 25 miles north east of Baltimore. Right off of I-95, next to Aberdeen. Not more then 3 miles from the Verizon City center switch. I am the same distance from the Cable Co head quarters. Sure I can get cable TV, but not cable broadband.

        So I expect there are many people that are not getting good service. Sure I can get cable TV, but not cable broadband.

        Yes I know about Wimax still waiting.

        The best thing would be if the FCC allowed a mesh of WiMax nodes and let the capitalist system provide ma
      • by dziban303 (540095)
        Wimax isn't all its cracked up to be. -fmr clearwire engineer
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by ethan0 (746390)

      I spent a minute try'n to figure out
      what meter this; if rhyming was your scheme
      perhaps a parody you'd done a song
      or some much-reforwarded meme.

      but, alas, at last occurred to me
      despite the sim'lar lengths of every line
      the layout had no deep and thoughtful cause;
      you randomly hit 'return' from time to time.

  • No, that's WiFi at 2.4GHz, shared with microwave ovens. This system operates at fifty times that frequency.

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      Infrared, which is above the frequency they're using, will cook your dinner too.

      In fact, many RF frequencies are converted to heat by solid matter. Just because it's less efficient than the microwave oven frequency doesn't mean it doesn't work.

  • Why? (Score:5, Funny)

    by kramer2718 (598033) on Friday October 03, 2008 @01:36PM (#25248461) Homepage

    Why replace fiber?

    Besides reducing the glycemic effect of meals and contributing to colon health, there is evidence that fiber may benefit us in other ways. It seems to help lower cholesterol and triglycerides, and also may help to prevent ulcers, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

    Can wireless really do all of that?

    • by Sentry21 (8183)

      As a sufferer of Crohn's Disease, I've been advised by my dietician to avoid foods that are high in fibre, as well as leafy greens and other similar foods, because they do not digest as thoroughly and can cause irritation in the lower intestines. For myself and as many as 600,000 individuals in North America alone, wireless technologies such as this will enable the living of healthy, normal lives by replacing networks that are high in fibre with networks more suited to the special diets our conditions requi

    • by xant (99438)

      Come on, we all know wireless causes cancer. So any idiot would realize that to cure cancer, you only have to invert the peaks and valleys of the wireless waves.

    • Can wireless really do all of that?

      Test it out by putting a constipated cat into a microwave.

      Then sue Panasonic*.

      * Obscure Weird Al reference.

  • Could you create a protocol that always operated at maximum bandwidth and which filled that extra bandwidth with bogus or random data to make intercepting and extracting useful information cost prohibative (money, resources, computation limits, etc)?

  • ... to provide line-of-sight for big high-speed meshes with fixed terrestrial components of the network at elevated ground locations? 10GB is a nice backbone to 1GB wired distribution points if the volume of traffic could be managed.

  • A worthy contender to the clack trunk!
  • Are the lasers that they are using in the microwave range? Shouldn't they be called Masers (I believe that's the correct term)? Then why the reference to "optical" networking gear? Really just curious.

    By the way (if anyone bothers reading this) I heard that the use of microwaves as a cooking method was discovered when technicians who climbed microwave towers reported hearing "popping" sounds while they worked. No microphones could pick it up and it was eventually determined that the rapid expansion and

    • by Nezer (92629)

      Are the lasers that they are using in the microwave range?

      I certainly hope not! I put aluminium foil in my microwave range once and that wasn't a pretty sight. I can't imagine the damage caused when lasers and microwave ranges meet.

      Who needs the LHC? Toss in some non-dairy creamer and I could easily see a black hole forming. under the above scenario.

    • They don't call it the radar range for nothing. I believe that it was a guy working on radar systems that found you could cook with them. I think this was long before microwave communication was in use.
    • The article doesn't really specify.

      They "modulated data on two low-frequency laser beams" to create a 100GHz (3mm) interference pattern, but doesn't specify what frequency those laser beams were at.

      It says they use "off-the-shelf optical telecommunication components" which normally operates from 850nm - 1550nm or 193THz - 352THz (IR). If that's truly the case, perhaps the article is mistaken and they used two higher frequency lasers to create a lower frequency wave/interference that can more easily trav

      • Sorry, I over-looked something. They're saying they used low-frequency laser beams, which would imply ~850nm technology. I misread low-frequency as lower-frequency, as in lower than 100GHz which would indeed be outside the range of a laser.
  • >using point-to-point millimeter-wave technology.

    "Radio" ?

    >and essentially combined two lower bandwidth signals to produce a 10Gb signal from the interference.

    "Mixer" ?

    Stop the presses!!! Well OK so they did it with lasers, neat-o, but I'm having trouble getting excited. And I don't really get why these days people would *rather* be bombarded with insane amounts of RF than string a few wires and be done with it. Well as long as they don't aim it at me or expect me to pay for it, good for them I gue

    • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Friday October 03, 2008 @02:54PM (#25249461)

      No, this is millimetre wave. It's NOT microwave. Millimetre wave is kind of a weird area that's not really radio as we know it, but isn't quite optical either. It's not used much because it's a real pain to generate a modulated signal in that region.

      From the article it sounds like what these guys did is used two HIGHER frequency off the shelf laser beams and mixed them (optically). The interference between the two produces a millimetre wave signal. That IS cool, when you think about it, and it means that a big, neglected region of the spectrum can now be utilized cheaply.

      Also, since it's high frequency point to point you don't get bombarded by significant amounts of radiation unless you stand directly between the transmitter and receiver. For high power, long distance applications both of those would tend to be on towers or high roofs.

      Canada has long used a system of microwave towers to carry telecommunications across the country. The radio system was much cheaper than laying (and maintaining) thousands of kilometres of cable.

  • "Line of sight" = "Won't work in rain, snow, ice, dust, or fog" for the high frequencies this is using. Granted, it's a lot faster and cheaper to install than fiber, but less reliable.
  • There's still something much more comforting about a physical media connection from point A to point B. My primary concern with replacing fiber with wireless would be security, or lack of viable security for securing my wireless.
  • Sit in the den with Daddy and let us all bask in radar's warm glowing warming glow.
  • If I remember my Physics correctly, (wavelength)x(frequency) = c (speed of light), for electromagnetic radiation, assuming a vacuum. So, for this field test, they used effectively 100 Gigahertz. The wavelength, therefore, was approximately 3mm, assuming the radiation wasn't slowed artificially. This still falls within the range which is referred to as "millimeter wave", but be aware that it's not exactly one millimeter. The band ranges from 1 millimeter (300 Ghz) to 10 millimeters (30 Ghz).
  • 10 Gigabits is not very high and you most likely can only get maybe 10 channels of that.

    Using propper fiberobtic wires you can easily do those kinds of bandwidth today, but have the option of using hundreds of wavelengths to simply multiply your capacity on a single fiber. Plus as nobody actually digs in single fibers, you nearly always have more than one pair of fibers.

    So this will not replace fiber, but maybe certain types of current microwave links. There are uses for it, but definitely not for bringing

  • "These waves can carry more data because they oscillate faster."

    *sigh*

  • Replacing Fiber With 10 Gigabit/Second Wireless but does it keep you regular ?? Sorry - I'm a pharmacist. When I see the word fiber, I don't think of cable/wireless

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