John M Lund Photography Inc / Stone
Wireless City

Wake up to Wireless Ways

March 11, 2020
Wireless network ways provide a future-proofed, AI-driven self-discovery schema.

Are our existing wired networked solutions at risk in the near future? Can wireless ways greatly enhance wired networks? The answer is "yes.” 

Wireless network ways provide a future-proofed, AI-driven self-discovery schema with off-site ease of update for operating systems, collection devices, and sensors.

Think of the ease of updating your phone and how it floats effortlessly through a jungle of wireless networks and ever-evolving operating systems while presenting your personally-focused applications that you can easily control and change.

This all builds on our chapter (from back in November), Building Wireless Inside Out. Key quote:

You will see in all these articles a shift from carrier-owned obsolete wired backbones in buildings to new, in-building owned fiber backbones to the street; all necessary to feed the fourth utility, wireless, which is mandatory for today's space. 

A new strategy for cleaning up our networking mess is mesh. If you're unfamiliar, here’s a brief rundown from Wikkipedia:

A mesh network (or simply meshnet) is a local network topology in which the infrastructure nodes (i.e. bridges, switches, and other infrastructure devices) connect directly, dynamically and non-hierarchically to as many other nodes as possible and cooperate with one another to efficiently route data from/to clients. This lack of dependency on one node allows for every node to participate in the relay of information. Mesh networks dynamically self-organize and self-configure, which can reduce installation overhead. The ability to self-configure enables dynamic distribution of workloads, particularly in the event a few nodes should fail. This in turn contributes to fault-tolerance and reduced maintenance costs

Our contributing editor, Nicolas Waern, presents a convincing case for a wireless future with AI at the heart of solving our complex wired network configuration problems in this article, Wireless-First Strategy:

I am advising clients all over the world on what their Connectivity-Strategy should look like in order to get the most bang for the buck. It could be Digital-twin companies needing data from buildings and existing systems. It's General Contractors that want to be the next APPLE of the building automation industry. New entrants to the smart building industry wanting the know-how what the perfect edge gateway should look like. It's Real Estate owners, wanting to see more of a return from buildings and to challenge the status quo.

It's all about trying to offer the pros and cons with any strategy, choosing the technology based on what the customer wants to do right now, but also in the future.

How important is the total cost of ownership, flexibility, security, ease of install, recurring costs, how often to send the data, to where, how much data, battery-powered, location, firmware updates, usability, scalability and a lot of other factors?

Looking at the future projections, it seems that the volumes in the long-run (2025 the earliest) between licensed and unlicensed solutions are 50/50 but in totally different use cases, thus more complementary.

This LinkedIn post from Nicholas adds to the conversation:

We need to move towards an open industry, leveraging advanced technology in an interoperable way. The World Depends on it.

Fitting tools:

Place and play Wireless mesh sensors, robust and scalable, creating a private digital space in the property with very low Total Cost of Ownership.

And here’s another: Which connectivity-horse to bet on? 

Open Source Wireless Radio Access Networks "RAN" Edge Devices will combine embedded intelligence to deliver more agile services and advanced capabilities. 

These edge devices would not need a separate gateway, because technically, the “gateway” is built into their on board software. They have the horsepower to run a small Node.js server or MQTT server, or REST server next to their existing firmware and do it all. It has a ton more system resources so you could run that, plus a RESTful server, Haystack server, JSON data server plus XML if needed, etc. 

What we are talking about here is mostly software-defined, because once you have a powerful hardware platform you can run more things on it. The next next-generation wireless infrastructure will work this way as part of powerful new breed truly open edge devices.

Here are two brief quotes about a group committed to evolving radio access networks around the world:

The O-RAN Alliance was created to accelerate the delivery of products that support a common, open architecture and standardized interfaces that we, as operators, view as the foundation of our next-generation wireless infrastructure, while ensuring a broad community of suppliers driven by innovation and open market competition.

— Alex Jinsung Choi, SVP Research and Technology Innovation, Deutsche Telekom

Our industry is approaching an inflection point, where increasing infrastructure virtualization will combine with embedded intelligence to deliver more agile services and advanced capabilities to our customers. The O-RAN Alliance is at the forefront of defining the next generation RAN architecture for this transformation.

— Andre Fuetsch, CTO and President AT&T Labs

This YouTube video looks at the concept of #OpenRAN. From the introduction:

This presentation looks at the concept of OpenRan, White Box RAN and Virtualized RAN (vRAN). It looks at the motivation to move away from traditional architectures where the vendor supplies their own proprietary hardware and software to the new Open RAN architecture movement. Business case from an MNO / SP point of view is discussed and the results from joint Open RAN RFI by Telefonica and Vodafone is discussed.

And this from, the homepage of the O-Ran software community:

The O-RAN Software Community (SC) is a collaboration between the O-RAN Alliance and Linux Foundation with the mission to support the creation of software for the Radio Access Network (RAN). The RAN is the next challenge for the open source community. The O-RAN SC plans to leverage other LF network projects, while addressing the challenges in performance, scale, and 3GPP alignment.

From the NXP web site, Stuart Forbes discusses Private 5G Networks and the Future of Industry 4.0:

Modernizing an industrial operation to support Industry 4.0 applications can be a remarkably complex hallenge. This is especially true where a facility uses legacy fixed Ethernet to connect machines to a central office location. Transition may be easier where a facility has already transitioned to wireless, but evolving to next-generation capabilities can expose the limits of commercially-supplied Wi-Fi and LTE cellular networks. That’s because Industry 4.0 makes use of highly automated, intelligent, and collaborative cyber-physical systems which require highly stable, low-latency wireless connections. 

As a result, a growing number of enterprises in manufacturing, energy, mining, power distribution, logistics, and other sectors are going private. They’re moving away from established network operators, and bringing their wireless networks in-house.

Our contributing editor Marc Petock of Lynxspring, Inc., speaks to using wireless to get information to and from our legacy systems in this article, The Expanding Role of Wireless Sensors in the Built Environment: 

Sensors for smart buildings will grow from $313.2 million in 2013 to $3.7 billion by 2020, according to a recent study by NAVIGANT RESEARCH. As information and operational technologies converge, sensors play a crucial role in facilitating intelligent building solutions. They can provide actionable insight through data-driven tools. Wireless sensors serve a great purpose. They may be small, sometimes almost invisible, but are becoming essential ingredients within the built environment. They are creating new efficiencies that positively impact how buildings and facilities are managed and operated. Wireless sensors offer clear value and are leading us to evolve new practices for using them to enhance building performance and efficiency, occupant wellness and satisfaction, meet compliance requirements and manage risk.

Here are a few resources to help us all improve our wireless ways —

An example of a wireless mesh solution From the Conectric website. Key Quote:

Our ultra-scalable wireless networking infrastructure allows self-installation and no maintenance real-time wireless sensor networks. We are fueling the worlds best software, analytics and artificial intelligence platforms for SMB's and Enterprise companies to embrace the Digital Journey. Bring your own gateway or use one of ours. Wireless mesh networks scale up to 500 nodes and 50,000 sensors using our Plug-and-Play Routers. Cloud or SaaS  We offer data hosting and sensor management on the world’s most secure, scalable and reliable Google Cloud Platform. If you’d like to pay for your sensors as a monthly, let's talk.

And check out this video, also from Concentric Networks, From unboxing to a functional mesh network with wireless sensors deployed in a matter of minutes.

DINGO software is a complete software stack, and according to the company web site it is:

Capable of dealing with low-level sensors and actuators, through to our high-level BACnet/IoT implementation. A DINGO BACKBONE is ready to communicate with any other BACnet device on the network. Communicating with DINGO BACKBONEs over the Internet is done with open and secure standards like BACnet/WS or MQTT.

Also from Dingo comes this overview of their solutions, Wireless communication is one of the most important part of IoT:

Devices, sensors and actuator communication with each other is a requirement in the world of IoT. However, there are many wireless technologies out there. IoT projects are very different, when it comes to inter-device communication. Sometimes only short-range communication is needed. Other times range of many kilometers is required. Bandwidth and security requirements are also very different from project to project.

From Contemporary Controls comes Convenient Wireless Network Setup Using the BAScontrol22 for Training and Education:

The BAScontrol22 is a 22-point BACnet/IP compliant, Function Block Diagram (FBD) programmable Sedona unitary controller with a built-in 2-port Ethernet switch – one port for direct connection to an IP network, and one port to attach a secondary IP device, continue the Ethernet network in a multi-drop manner, or use it for direct PC/laptop connection for programming, configuration or diagnostics on the controller. The controller is fully web-page configurable using a common web browser and freely programmable using Contemporary Controls’ free BAScontrol Toolset. BACnet compliance ensures connectivity to any BACnet/IP network with supervision. With the help of any standard Wi-Fi router, BAScontrol22 units can be conveniently accessed over the Wi-Fi network, giving students and teachers the convenience and flexibility of wireless networking.

From their web site comes this brief introduction to the EnOcean Alliance: Welcome to EnOcean Alliance - Building Smarter Connectivity 

As an international association of leading companies in the building and IT industries, the EnOcean Alliance has been committed since 2008 to enabling and promoting interoperable, maintenance-free and proven eco-systems based on the wireless EnOcean radio standard (ISO/IEC 14543-3-10/11). With their decades of experience, EnOcean Alliance members strive to co-create a healthy, safe and sustainable environment in smart homes, intelligent buildings and smart spaces for the benefit of all.

Working in much the same spirit is the LoRa Alliance. From their site:

The LoRa Alliance is an open, nonprofit association that has become one of the largest and fastest-growing alliances in the technology sector since its inception in 2015. 

The LoRa Alliance® is the fastest growing technology alliance. A non-profit association of more than 500 member companies, committed to enabling large scale deployment of Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) IoT through the development and promotion of the LoRaWAN® open standard. Members benefit from a vibrant ecosystem of active contributors offering solutions, products & services, which create new and sustainable business opportunities. contributor Byron BeMiller, Vertical Lead for Smart Buildings at Semtech, calls LoRa  The Backbone to Smart Building Solutions.

And here is my own take on G5-6 WiFi6 & CBRS:

This alphabet soup is destined to shape your future - Learning about WiFi 6 (802.11ax)–a new wireless standard for indoor networks; a WPA3 Standard–added security for WiFi networks; the new 6 GHz WiFi spectrum coming in 2020 was very interesting see phone pictures of Alan's presentation.

From the Aruba Networks web site:

IoT can change the experience we have interacting with our workspaces, people and even machines. By leveraging data – like temperature, speed, location, or applications in use – Aruba’s IoT solutions help deliver meaningful experiences using context-aware network generated content.

And last, this from Lynxspring’s systems integrator page:

Lynxspring’s technology portfolio of hardware and software solutions, services and expert support enables system integrators to provide their clients an efficient means of controlling and managing all aspects of the built environment and create cost-effective controls solutions for managing all aspects of buildings' environmental systems.  

Wow! Lots of information on how complex ideas will make things simpler by allowing meshed AI to help us sort out and simplify complex networks automatically.

Wireless ways will dominate and we need to take control of building wireless infrastructure and work together to build a future-proof open tent. That tent will require software upgradeable open devices, and perhaps even replaceable wireless devices, all connected to our building-owned fiber backbones. We need to carefully justify our hardwire and hard network investments because in the near future they will be jumped over by wireless. If you do not believe this go to most condo units built in the last 10 years with a $10,000 structured cable box. Now? They all have a wireless WiFi router resting on top of that box, replacing all of that intended functionality.

Wires will get shorter, wireless reach will get longer.

We need to Wake up to Wireless Ways.  

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