Novel Techniques for Low Cost, Long Distance WiFi Networking

Omar Mohammed Bakr, Richard Edward Honicky, A. Richard Newton and Eric Brewer

National Science Foundation 0326582 and Intel

We are exploring two novel ways of using low cost WiFi devices for long distance, point-to-point and last mile connectivity, with an emphasis on rural regions in developing countries. First, we build on the Delay Tolerant Networking research done at UC Berkeley and elsewhere to design a low cost voice and data communication system that assumes that asynchronous communication is the common case. This assumption allows the system designer to optimize the expected usage patterns rather than worst case usage patterns, and results in a significant reduction in power provisioning, capacity provisioning and required coverage. Secondly, we are designing a programmable, low cost frequency adapter, built from low cost, discrete, off-the-shelf components that will allow WiFi equipment to operate in the UHF spectrum. This allows a network designer to use low cost WiFi equipment while taking advantage of the superior propagation characteristics of lower frequency UHF signals. In places, such as some developing countries, where spectrum can be obtained in these bands, we anticipate that our frequency adapter will significantly increase the coverage area of a radio, or alternatively allow a network designer to reduce the cost of a mast by an order of magnitude.

E. Brewer, M. Demmer, M. Ho, R. J. Honicky, J. Pal, M. Plauché, and S. Surana, "The Challenges of Technology Research for Developing Regions," IEEE Pervasive Computing, Vol. 5, No. 2, April-June 2006, pp. 15-23.
S. M. Mishra, J. Hwang, D. Filippini, T. Du, R. Moazzami, and L. Subramanian, "Economic Analysis of Networking Technologies for Rural Developing Regions," Workshop on Internet and Network Economics, December 2005.
M. Demmer, E. Brewer, K. Fall, S. Jain, M. Ho, and R. Patra, "Implementing Delay Tolerant Networking," IRB-TR-04-020, December 28, 2004.