Novarum has just written an 8-page white paper titled “2010: Guidelines for Successful Large Scale Outdoor Wi-Fi Networks” which contains recommendations to service providers on what makes a successful large-scale outdoor Wi-Fi network today. These recommendations are based upon Novarum’s work between 2006 and 2009 testing over 175 wireless networks in 36 North American cities. Last April 2009, PC World published Novarum’s test results for 3G networks in the US. Earlier in February 2009, Ken Biba, one of Novarum’s founders, wrote an article on MuniWireless about how muni WiFi networks outperformed cellular and WiMAX networks.
According to the Novarum paper, service providers should deploy at least 2×2 MIMO 802.11n for both access and backhaul tiers, 60 nodes per square mile (at least), to ensure the best coverage and performance. Sufficient node density is critical. Measured radio frequency signals from Wi-Fi access points poorly predict performance an coverage:
“More bars does not necessarily mean better service. Rather it is the density of access nodes that is the best predictor of good performance since the uplink from client to base station is the limiting factor in performance, capacity and coverage . . . The improved coverage of 802.11n does NOT, however, replace node density. In combination with high access node density, 802.11n offers the promise of truly useable and high performance wireless networking with robust coverage . . . Citywide Wi-Fi networks should at the very least meet – and preferably exceed the performance of cellular.”
Here is a summary of the guidelines for wireless broadband success with Wi-Fi:
- Modern wireless broadband networks should deliver a useful service with more than 90% coverage for 802.11n laptops at a performance that exceeds cellular data performance expected in 2012.
- Deploy access network densely – more than 50 nodes per square mile for 2.4 GHz access. Novarum recommends 60 nodes per square mile based on our measurements of over 175 large scale networks.
- Deploy 802.11n technology for infrastructure – both 2.4 GHz access and 5 GHz backhaul.
- Different clients will have different coverage and different performance on the same network infrastructure. Base the network design and expectations on the typical client devices to be used in the next five years.
- Deploy 802.11n technology for clients if at all possible. Avoid 802.11b – these ancient Wi-Fi clients will degrade network performance and every other user’s experience.
- Expect very good networks to deliver outdoor 802.11n coverage between 90 and 95%.
- Expect very good (and affordable) 802.11n Wi-Fi networks to deliver outdoor coverage between 50-75% for smartphones.
- Expect legacy 802.11g based wireless broadband networks to deliver largely unacceptable service of 80% for laptops and below 50% for smartphones.
Download 2010: Guidelines For Successful Large Scale Outdoor Wi-Fi Networks
See also: Novarum Publications