Shedding Light on Fiber and its Alternatives

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The ubiquity and pervasiveness of smart mobile devices has resulted in exponential mobile data traffic. This in turn, has created a tremendous strain on existing mobile network infrastructure which is no longer able to transport the masses of data efficiently and reliably. Network operators are scrambling to upgrade their infrastructure with a wide range of solutions, to address the projected monthly exa-byte data tsunami.

Mobile access networks, including the RAN, are undergoing significant capacity improvements to keep pace as we enter the exa-byte era. Some  improvements in access networks include deployment  of new cell sites, small cells, het-nets, mixed cell sites i.e. any-G (2G/3G/4G) technology, multiple sectors and carriers, cloud RAN, etc. These capacity improved access networks ,in turn, demand higher capacity backhaul ranging from a few Mbps to 100s of Mbps over the last few years. This backhaul capacity demand is anticipated to grow  up to 1-2 Gbps within 2 years and into double digit  over a 5-10 year period.

Fiber is presumed to be the de-facto technology of choice for this growing demand of high capacity mobile backhaul due to key performance characteristics:

  • Highest capacity available
  • Constant non-adaptive data rates in all weather conditions
  • Error free (i.e. BER of 10^ -12 or higher) transmission over hundreds of miles
  • Five nines carrier grade availability

While highly desirable, fiber also has some practical challenges:

  • Fiber may not be available at the cell site or near-by
  • New fiber construction may not be feasible due to geographic situations
  • New fiber construction can be cost prohibitive
  • Fiber rollouts take a long time (permits, trenching, setup)

These challenges have opened up the doors for alternative high capacity transport solutions. Any fiber alternative solution needs to provide not only dependable, sustained, predictable connectivity but also all of above performance characteristics of fiber. The AOptix Intellimax product provides the industry first true alternative to fiber meeting all the above mentioned fiber alternative criteria, with the added bonus of significantly lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than fiber.

Looking Beyond FSO

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As the race for high capacity and higher bandwidth transport networks heats up, there is a strong desire to find a true alternative to fiber. One promising contender is a true hybrid solution, that fully integrates millimeter wave and Adaptive Optics (AO) technologies in a single system.

Before we discuss AO, some background information is warranted on the origins of AO Free Space Optics (FSO). FSO is a laser driven technology which uses light sources to send and receive information through the atmosphere, somewhat similar to fiber transmission which also uses light sources but transports them through a fiber optic cable. FSO has some key advantages, the obvious ones being high capacity wireless technology, exemption from spectrum regulation and quick installation cycles. On the negative side, FSO systems are impacted significantly by atmospheric scintillations in addition to weather conditions such as fog, dust, and others impacting visibility. Such atmospheric distortions have an adverse effect on traditional and most FSO systems limiting their reachability, i.e. distance, and more critically impacting the availability of the FSO link. These limitations have sidelined FSO from being a leading contender for mass commercial deployments.

Fast forward to Adaptive Optics . AO is a technology that not only improves the performance of standard FSO but also overcomes the key limitations described above. AO reduces the effects of wave-front distortions which are typically caused by atmospheric turbulence and scintillations. The atmospheric turbulence and scintillations occur on a daily basis due to the temperature gradients at various layers of the atmosphere. AO corrects the wave-front by sensing the distortion using a wave-front sensor and correcting it in real time. This results in a very tightly collimated optical beam that can travel almost 100 to 200 times the distance of a standard FSO.

This innovative AO technology, when coupled with another complementary wireless technology, overcomes all the major issues of standard FSO. The resulting hybrid wireless transport system enables high capacity date rates over long distances with 99.999 % availability.

A Fiber Alternative is on the Way

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Bernhard Warner presents an interesting perspective in his recent BusinessWeek article  After Boston Marathon Outages, a ‘Wireless Fiber’ Alternative Is Coming. In it he presents the current challenge mobile carriers have supporting massive mobile device usage with their current network infrastructure. Today, their customers expect voice, data, photo, video, games, work and social media outlets to operate on their mobile devices – and they expect it instantaneously. More importantly, they count on being able to communicate under all circumstances, especially emergency situations like the Boston marathon bombing on April 15.

In emergencies, traditional networks may get overloaded and in some cases, destroyed. AOptix has developed the first true alternative to fiber wireless transport solution that can be deployed and operational within 20 minutes and installs on any structure.  AOptix technology transports vast amounts of data and voice long distances through all weather conditions for overburdened mobile phone networks in emergency or disaster recovery scenarios, as well as everyday.

Excerpts from Bernhard Warner’s article:

“AOptix’s wireless technology can beam multiple gigabits of voice and data capacity over a mobile carrier’s existing network, providing extra “backhaul” capacity without having to erect new cell towers.” 

“Its first commercial deployment later this spring could keep mobile networks up and running when crisis hits. It could eventually pave the way for super-fast wireless broadband that approaches speeds of Google Fiber (GOOG).”

I encourage everyone to read what Warner says. We’d like to hear your comments.

Entering the Exabyte Era

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Recently, Wired magazine published an article called Entering the Exabyte Era, penned by AOptix’ own Dr. Chandra Pusarla, GM and VP Communications. Chandra presents the challenges with mobile backhaul congestion that network operators face today that cannot be addressed using current network transport technologies. 

Chandra writes:

“Before the introduction of the first Apple iPhone, about 80 terabytes of data was being sent across mobile networks globally every month, according to Cisco. Since then, data volumes have soared by a factor of more than 13,000: 2013, according to a recent Cisco report, will be the first time in history that more than an exabyte of data will travel across the global mobile network every month. An exabyte, if you were wondering, is more than a billion gigabytes or the equivalent of downloading the entire Star Wars series 130 million times.

This rapid growth has put the mobile network infrastructure under tremendous strain. The biggest bottleneck is occurring in the short distance between the cell tower and the core network – known as mobile backhaul. You experience this strain every time you encounter difficulty trying to connect your mobile device to the cellular network or endure agonizingly slow connection speeds. Network operators are aware of their system bottlenecks and they are working as fast as they can to upgrade their mobile networks.”

Read Entering the Exabyte Era for more description of AOptix’ new wireless solution to the enormous, and still growing, problem of mobile backhaul congestion.

Bordering on…elated!

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AOptix is elated to receive the Government Security News 2013 Border Security Platinum Award for Best Biometric Identification Solution!  

The GSN award recognizes AOptix Insight Duo which provides enterprises and government agencies a fast, easy to use and automated way to verify personal identities. Through the combination of iris recognition and other biometric techniques, AOptix Insight Duo delivers a High Throughput solution that is fast, highly accurate, and provides a positive end user experience. AOptix Insight Duo is being used at major airports throughout the world for aviation security and to support immigration control at international borders. The identities of over 50 million travelers a year are verified by AOptix systems.

The 2013 GSN Border Security Awards Program recognizes and salutes “The vendor companies that produce the most innovative and technologically advanced products and solutions used in border security.”  Thank you Government Security News for the recognition!

Mobile World Congress—All about Data

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AOptix spent four busy days in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress talking to customers and channel partners, hearing from industry thought leaders, and generally taking the pulse on the most important business issues facing mobile operators today.

Big data, cloud, the proliferation of smart mobile devices, Small cells, and SDN were among the biggest discussion topics. While the analytical aspects of big data have received much attention, mobile operators also focus on the challenge of transporting the exponentially growing amounts of data while maintaining service levels for businesses and consumers and containing costs.

Some astonishing stats on how mobile data traffic will grow by 2017:

  • Monthly global mobile data traffic will surpass 11 exabytes
  • The number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the world’s population in 2013
  • Monthly mobile tablet traffic will surpass 1 exabyte per month in 2017.

Humongous though it may be, mobile traffic is merely a subset of the data which service providers will be expected to transport. We now live in a world of the “internet of things.” Vast amounts of data are generated not only from smart mobile devices but from sensors and other machine-to-machine applications and are expected to be transported over mobile networks.

Massive amounts of data already present severe challenges to mobile operators. Backhaul is congested and transport networks are coming under strain. Mobile operators must invest in scaling their mobile backhaul systems or suffer delivery issues and customer attrition. However, existing transport technologies (e.g. fiber, leased lines, microwave, E-band) present cost and/or performance challenges. Mobile operators seek a low TCO alternative to fiber which could solve the myriad of challenges they face in mobile backhaul.

On the path to a ‘virtual’ identity credential

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“The smart phone is now poised to change identity and to provide the platform that will ultimately enable the identity credential to become fully digital, freed from the confines of a passport book or printed card.” Excerpt from On the path to a ‘virtual’ identity credential.

Director of Product Marketing for Identity Solutions at AOptix, Joey Pritikin, contributed an article to ThirdFactor, a highly regarded online publication providing news and insight into biometric identification and authentication. The article, which is currently featured on the home page of their website, discusses a new era in biometric verification leveraging the power of smart mobile devices. When identity credentials become virtual it will make biometric identity “more broadly useful, more portable and more secure.” Read all of Joey’s insightful piece on ThirdFactor.com here.

Biometric Identity Verification: The next big thing for Smart Phones

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According to Digitimes, 865 million smart mobile devices will be shipped in 2013. IDC says that number will increase to 1.16 billion smart mobile devices per year by 2016. These huge numbers not only indicate the large number of individuals using their smart devices to stay connected socially; these devices are proliferating into business applications in a variety of industries including: healthcare, financial services, banking, travel, and retail.

Now smart mobile devices are about to revolutionize the biometric industry as well. With Smart Mobile Identity (SMI) products from AOptix, biometric identity verification no longer is confined to fixed locations like immigration counters. SMI is a new class of biometrics-based hardware and software products and services that leverage the capabilities of leading smart mobile devices to ensure our identities are proven or verified.

SMI unlocks the true potential of biometric identity verification by opening the opportunities to a wide variety of new applications.

Read the Smart Mobile Identity white paper from AOptix to learn how SMI enables new ways of working that were never before possible.

Holiday Travel: The Gift of Biometrics (via: Wired)

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“Air travel, more than any other mode of transportation, is challenged by significant bottlenecks, many of which are caused by the need for manual identity checks.”

Director of Product Marketing for Identity Solutions, Joey Pritikin’s contributed article on Wired.com was featured on the front page of their website Wednesday, December 19. In the article he describes how our InSight Iris Recognition Systems are revolutionizing travel and improving the passenger experience. Automated identity verification is gaining attention as airports continue to trial iris recognition to automate every point where identity verification is required. To read more from Joey click here.

Dubai Airport Launches Biometric eGates, Powered by AOptix InSight Systems, for Special Needs Passengers

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On November 26 Dubai’s General Department for Residency and Foreigners Affairs launched a new biometric eGate service for special needs passengers. AOptix automated face and iris recognition systems are integrated and deployed by emaratech, a major regional systems integrator for government, border control, aviation security and electronic identification systems.

The Smart Gates are now open in Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport after a successful Grand Opening. The inaugural launch is part of a project including 100 total Smart Gates and smart counters for immigration in Terminal 3, the world’s largest airport terminal. Dubai International Airport plans to expand this project through all four terminals and process some 75 million passengers a year through immigration by 2014 .