By: Stephen Sedgwick-Williams
Tech-savy students are making waves as they work with a new wireless network at the college under the supervision of an Algonquin engineering professor.
Professor Wahab Almuhtadi and his students are working on WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) which is more powerful, faster and longer range signal than the current standard WiFi. The network is being developed so that it does not interfere with the school’s current WiFi network.
Algonquin worked with Carleton University on the network, as well as EION wireless and the Ontario Centres of Excellence. Both groups funded the project, allowing for students to be hired and work on the project.
At the moment, the school has three stations using the network – two subscriber stations (which send and receive data from a base location) inside the A and T-buildings and a base station in B-building. Each station is connected to an antenna located on top of the buildings, which allow the stations to communicate with each other.
“WiFi is, if you’re lucky, up to 400 meters,” Almuhtadi said of the advantages of WiMAX.
It is capable of reaching up to 40km, about a hundred times further than the range of WiFi, and it can reach a transfer speed dof up to a gigabyte a second. An hour long episode of a TV show in HD is about 1.3 gigabytes.
In order to monitor the network’s speed and stability, each station has a camera and a number of streaming videos that can be accessed from the other stations. The effect of streaming these videos can be observed through software that the stations have installed on them.
“WiMAX technology system offers a quality of service that can provide users a more reliable means of communication compared to conventional best efforts such as LTE, which is Long-Term Evolution, RF Communications, which is Radio Frequency, and other wireless connectivity,” Emmanuel JeanPierre, a student working on the network at its base location, said.
According to JeanPierre, WiMAX is similar to WiFi and LTE, the network used by 4G phones. WiMAX also provides better service quality, transmits messages successfully more often, drops less, has less delay, and provides more bandwidth, the amount of data that can be consumed on a network, compared to other network systems like WiFi.
WiMAX comes in two forms, mobile and fixed. Currently, the network installed in the school is a fixed version of WiMAX, meaning that there needs to be a clear, unobstructed line of sight between the signal sender, and the receiver. There can’t be anything between the antenna and the device using the WiMAX network.
Mobile WiMAX networks on the other hand, do not need an unobstructed line of sight between the signal sender and receiver. This version of WiMAX hasn’t been implemented at Algonquin, but the students working on the network have already begun working on making the network mobile.
“We have to focus on Traffic Engingeering in WiMAX Networks to improve media streaming,” Almuhtadi said.