Speaking to Telecom Review ahead of Mobile World Congress 2017, Dmitry Okorokov, CEO, InfiNet Wireless, one of the largest privately owned broadband wireless access (BWA) development and manufacturing companies in the world, said the company has "significantly enhanced" its product range this year. Dmitry spoke about what to expect from InfiNet Wireless at MWC this year, as well as some of the recent success stories the company has enjoyed.
Can you share insights about what you're showcasing at Mobile World Congress this year?
First of all, we are very pleased to be exhibiting at MWC for the third year running. We will be showcasing InfiLINK XG 1000, our 1Gb/s carrier-class wireless point-to-point solution which has just been enhanced with even more features and benefits. We strongly believe that the XG 1000 family of products will generate significant interest from service providers of all types.
Additionally, InfiNet will be introducing its extended InfiLINK XG portfolio with new frequency bands in the 2.X, 3.X and 4.X GHz spectrum. These award-winning models are able to deliver throughputs of up to 130Mb/s in just 10 MHz of available spectrum. They are ideal wireless solutions for WISPs mobile operator backhauls and high capacity transmission and/or access layers, as well as in-band small-cell LTE backhaul and public safety networks. At MWC-2017, we will also showcase our new generation InfiMAN 2x2 point-to-multipoint product family, complemented by a brand new smart antenna basestation, known as the Qmxb, and a new range of subscriber terminals fitted with 300 mW (25 dBm) radio transmit modules. These latest additions to our point-to-multipoint family were designed specifically for high density WISP applications, video surveillance deployments in areas where unlicensed 5 GHz spectrum is already congested and for non-line-of-sight (NLOS) wireless connectivity in urban environments.
One of InfiNet's success stories is implementing fast and reliable broadband access in major seaports. What details can you share about these projects, and why do you think they've been such a success?
We have thousands of success stories from all corners of the world, with our wireless solutions deployed in all sectors of the industry. A strength we have developed over the years is the provision of complete wireless infrastructures for major seaports. The most challenging part of this sector is to ensure seamless and reliable communications to fixed assets in the port itself as well as moving vessels out at sea. For example, the service provider Any-Port, operating in the south of France, deployed an advanced broadband wireless access network, incorporating cutting-edge equipment from InfiNet, to connect visiting boats and yachts with all services usually enjoyed by on-shore customers, such as IPTV, internet access, voice communication, etc.
Another example can be found in the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland, where we have deployed our infrastructure to provide wireless coverage over an area of more than 10,000 m2 of territorial land and water, including the ports of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad regions of Kronstadt, Ust-Luga, Vysotsk and Primorsk. The main objective of this wireless network is to provide all vessels, whatever their origin or destination, safe navigation through sometimes harsh and demanding environments, and to ensure special seaborne vessels such as icebreakers and merchant ships are constantly connected to shore. We have also deployed wireless platforms in major locations such as the Distrik Navigasi Kelasi I Port in Surabaya, Indonesia, the second busiest shipping port and city in the East Java Island. This network ensures that the main commodities (e.g. tobacco, sugar and coffee) exported to all parts of the world are delivered safely and on time. One of the greatest challenges we faced in this project was the distances that needed to be covered, and ensuring that the operators were able to adequately transmit over 60% line of sight (LOS) conditions caused by the difficult ground topology and transmission across water bodies.
Can you discuss some of InfiNet's other interesting success stories?
In 2016, we secured a strategic long-term contract with the Kazakhstan railway company, and have already completed the first phase and provided internet access across its railway infrastructure. The InfiNet R&D team developed a brand new train-to-ground solution that took into consideration the train operator's exact requirements which included guaranteeing uninterrupted data transfer rates of at least 80 Mbps when the trains were moving at high speeds, all delivered with very low latency targets. Even when the trains reached speeds of 200 km/hr or entered mountain tunnels, data transfers remained unaffected and stable. This first phase ultimately allowed all train passengers to enjoy seamless high speed internet connectivity while also supporting high quality voice communication. This same platform was also used to create an interactive and automatic system for monitoring and registering passenger tickets, as well as connecting every train to the operator's corporate data network. Additionally, the train's on-board access control and camera systems were upgraded to provide future-proof passenger safety, now comprising of full video surveillance and alarm buttons, all connected to a centralized monitoring center.
Which of InfiNet's range of products and solutions for carriers and mobile operators have seen the most success the past year?
Last year during MWC 2016, we showcased our InfiLINK XG family of products, one of the most advanced solutions for building wireless transmission networks. This family fits perfectly into a large array of applications such as backhaul for service providers of all types, LAN-to-LAN connectivity, WAN extensions, etc.
After gaining significant field experience with these solutions and listening to feedback from our various customers in all corners of the world, we have further enhanced this product family and this year, we will be announcing a range of new frequencies, improving spectral efficiency to deliver more Mbps in even smaller channel sizes, reducing latency figures to sub 3ms, etc. We are constantly monitoring our most relevant markets to ensure we continue to develop what our customers need from us.
Infinet's video surveillance and traffic management solutions tie in to the growing smart cities trend. Is smart cities an area of focus for InfiNet Wireless?
One of the most promising applications of our next generation wireless solutions is indeed directly related to the implementation of smart cities across the globe. Video surveillance and traffic management are just two common examples, but we are also providing solutions to the real estate and construction industry in all emerging smart cities. We strongly believe that these new cities will need to rely very heavily on a comprehensive ecosystem of connectivity, starting with WiFi and its associated backhauls, LANs, WANs, VPNs, all supported by a multitude of software tools and analytics, and aimed at automating many routine tasks and activities. This is indeed a major area of focus for our R&D team and we aim to enable seamless distribution and transport of content and applications in smart cities of all sizes. We are investing heavily in such bespoke wireless platforms with the sole objective of making cities even smarter and allowing their operators to tailor our solutions to each of their individual needs.
A good example of a project we were heavily involved with can be found in the city of Atlanta, Georgia, in the USA. We worked as part of a consortium in the Regional Traffic Operations Program (RTOP) to improve the signal timing between traffic lights in order to aid traffic flow and cut vehicle emissions. The results were very impressive - the total time spent waiting at traffic signals was reduced by 1.4 million hours and drivers saved in excess of 639,000 gallons of fuel, to name but a few benefits.
What challenges has InfiNet Wireless faced the past year?
One of the most challenging goals set by service and internet providers is the improvement of system capacity and spectral efficiency. Given this, we see tremendous potential in InfiLINK XG and the brand new InfiLINK XG 1000 products which are cost efficient alternatives to optic fiber networks with the real capacity of up to 1 Gbs. These solutions allow further modifications which unlock a golden opportunity for us to service more and more clients, providing them with higher speed of internet connection within the given frequency band.
In an effort to support it’s exponential growth, Tamer Group, a leading healthcare, beauty care, prestige products, and fast moving consumer goods company, based in Saudi Arabia, has recently partnered with InfiNet Wireless to ensure seamless connectivity and high bandwidth across several new facilities in Jeddah. The InfiNet solution has allowed Tamer Group to deploy and support several business-critical applications with far less management and maintenance, all at a significantly lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
Explaining the reasons for deciding to upgrade their wireless network infrastructure and work with InfiNet, Mr. Mohannad Al Jammal, Head of IT Operations & Network Infrastructure at Tamer Group said, “One of the big challenges we faced was the topography and the distance between our head office and the remote branches; many of the locations are about 30-40 km apart. So deploying a wireless network that was reliable and stable in these harsh conditions was at the top of our priority list. In parallel, we needed to ensure that the new wireless network could provide high bandwidth that would not only support the existing business needs but also be future-proofed for demand over the next few years. Given our unique requirements, InfiNet was the only viable solution on the market.”
Working with United Horizons, InfiNet’s partner in Saudi Arabia, Tamer Group deployed InfiNet’s InfiLINK 2x2 5GHz PRO & LITE family of products across all 20 locations in Jeddah. For the critical connection between their data center and head office, Tamer Group deployed the R5000-Omx model as it could support speeds of up to 300 Mbps over the 50 km distance. For connections between all other sites, Tamer Group deployed the R5000-Smn and the R5000-Lmn products.
One of the biggest benefits of the InfiNet solution has been the ability for Tamer Group to transmit significant volumes of business-critical data between their various sites. They currently depend on the InfiNet solution for exchange synchronization of their Storage Area Networks (SANs) in their data center and disaster recovery sites.
Another benefit has been the long-term cost savings. As Mr. Al Jammal explains, “The upfront investment for the InfiNet solution, when compared to other technologies, is slightly higher as obviously, there are a lot of hardware costs. But over the long term, the TCO is much lower. Implementing the InfiNet solution has also saved our IT resources a lot of time, as it has significantly reduced the amount of effort required to manage and maintain the network. While we do have the ability to monitor several parameters like performance, availability, bandwidth and transmission on a day-to-day basis, we have a service contract in place with United Horizons to take care of any problems with the network.”
“I am extremely pleased with the InfiNet solutions – the reliability and stability of the network has allowed us to deploy and support several business-critical processes. Based on our experience with InfiNet, I am confident that as we expand our operations, we will rely on InfiNet solutions for our wireless network infrastructure,” concluded Mr. Al Jammal.
Connectivity, collaboration, sustainability and inclusiveness were the key themes of the opening session of the high-level Leadership Summit, sponsored by TRA, UAE and moderated by Jeremy Wilks of Euronews, media partner of the Leadership Summit.
Extending connectivity - and the tremendous potential for social, economic and human development it brings - is critical. "The digital divide is very much still with us, a divide of geography and gender, of education and resources. It is imperative that we continue to work to close that digital divide," urged ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.
Summarizing the challenges involved in tackling digital exclusion, Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand and Acting Minister of Digital Economy and Society, focused on four key pillars of acitivity, which resonated throughout the discussion: the digital economy, connectivity, cybersecurity and capacity building.
"Governments must create policies that focus on citizen empowerment, digital skills and the creation of a business environment that allows business to grow by leveraging technology," he said, citing the example of Thailand's dynamic SME and entrepreneurship ecosystem.
What extending connectivity means in practice may vary greatly. The European Commission's Digital Single Market strategy, explained Fátima Barros, Chair of Portuguese regulator ANACOM, puts digital centre stage to grow the economy within and across the region. Its ambitious new broadband targets aim for at least 100 Mbps download speed for all households, 1 Gigabit for institutions such as hospitals and universities, and full 5G wireless broadband coverage in urban areas and major transport routes by 2025.
In India, the scale and nature is somewhat different - as R. S. Sharma, Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), pointed out, "45% of the unconnected are in India", and supplying basic power is often the first priority, rather than top broadband speeds. But both Europe and India face the challenges of uniting different states with different languages and at different stages of development; and the need for large-scale investment, a technology-neutral hybrid approach to networks and regulatory reform are universal.
The government's Digital India initiative will digitally empower society and transform the country, explained Sharma, through three parallel strands of development: infrastructure, including digital identity data in the cloud; software; and the services riding on top. Providing those services, whether in education, agriculture, health or any other sector, will only be possible through collaboration and partnership.
New regulatory approaches must enable open standards, software and systems to break down silos, encourage multiple technologies and ensure growth. For Barros, it is a balancing act: "The big challenge to achieving connectivity is keeping the goal of building the single market whilst sustaining competition."
Sparkle announces that it will provide GÉANT with a 2,5 Gbps circuit from Marseille (France) to Annaba (Algeria), boosting the existing connectivity currently dedicated to Algeria's scientists, academics and students community. Sparkle has historically provided network solutions for GÉANT since 2002 to reinforce connectivity among education and research centers located in different countries including India, Tunisia, Malta, Morocco, Egypt, Cyprus, Greece. Currently Sparkle also provides GÉANT with 5Gbps connectivity to Brazil.
CERIST (Research Centre on Scientific and Technical Information), the organization that manages Algeria's national Research & Education network, ARN, has been part of GÉANT's network since 2004. ARN currently interconnects over 800,000 users at 124 research and academic institutions across Algeria. Through its interconnection to GÉANT's pan-European network, ARN enables researchers, academics and students in Algeria to participate in world-class international research and educational activities in areas such as high-energy physics and earth observation.
Today Sparkle owns and operates one of the largest global and technologically advanced network of about 570.000 km of fiber. Sparkle's global backbone also leverages on an extensive ownership in the main international submarine cables connecting Europe with South-East Asia (e.g.: SEA-ME-WE 3, SEA-ME-WE 4, IMEWE and the upcoming SEA-ME-WE 5) as well as in consortia and bilateral submarine cables in the Mediterranean basin (e.g. to Malta, Tunisia, Libya, Israel, Turkey). Sparkle's open ecosystem and rich marketplace Sicily Hub in Palermo, located in the middle of the Mediterranean basin, reinforces Sparkle's strategic role in serving the growing capacity demand between Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific.
Sicily Hub provides lowest latency to customers located in North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Middle East than any other European peering point because of its geographical position and it is connected to all cable landing stations in Sicily.
In the Americas Sparkle manages a state-of the-art regional proprietary fiber optic network which is part of its global backbone and that connects Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Peru, Venezuela and USA with the rest of the world. Sparkle is also the main investor in Seabras-1, the only submarine cable system to directly connect Sao Paulo, Brazil, to New York, USA, that will go in full operation by 2017.