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Joe Abraham

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Understanding WAN Network Types in Remote Areas

Joe Abraham

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  • Dec 10, 2018
  • 10 Min read
  • 78 Views
  • Dec 10, 2018
  • 10 Min read
  • 78 Views
IT Ops
Pluralsight One

Introduction

Internet for everyone is such an interesting concept, isn’t it? The hope that everybody in the world can experience this phenomenon is truly a remarkable wish and, eventually, it will happen. Right now, many areas have the ability to access the Internet, but there are still many remote locations that cannot. Without access to high-speed cable or DSL links, without the ability to provide gigabit links to places far away and isolated, how could we then provide Internet access to all? There is a need for wide area network (WAN) links to be provided in remote areas, but which ones should be used? What are the benefits of each type? I’ll give you an overview of each type to better clarify when each one could and should be used.

What are Some Challenges of Remote Internet Connectivity?

So, when thinking about a remote location, what type of conditions typically stand out to you? Isolated? Little access to power or technology? No running water? There are many different ways that we can think to describe a “remote area,” and, when it comes to accessing the Internet, we need to think about what is required to gain access. Typically, a remote area would be without at least one of these.

Power

Power is essential to any (or mostly any) technology that we have in today’s world. Whether you’re using hard power lines, battery power, or some sort of renewable energy source, a lack of power will stop you from being able to access the Internet. Remote areas may not have a consistent power source, if they have one at all. So, in these areas, if no power is available, how can they use the devices that require power to access the Internet? Renewable power, like solar, is a very good way to go about doing so.

A Link

Some sort of access to an ISP is necessary to be able to access the Internet. This would be in what’s called a link. In most major cities and towns, this link is established through a cable or DSL line. Maybe you’re lucky and have a fiber connection. But remote areas probably won’t have cable TV or high-speed DSL lines running into their location. What options are available then, if you can’t get access through a hard-lined ISP?

Devices

We need devices! Devices are what we see and hear the Internet through. That sounds like an interesting thing, “hearing” the Internet. But seriously, Siri, Alexa, Google, Cortana…these are all connected to the Internet and, in a way, we hear the responses from our queries to the Internet through them. Super cool. But, the point is, that they are in devices. Phones, tablets, computers, home automation. It’s all included in this category of how we experience the Internet.

With regards to devices though, not only do we need to have the cool gadgets that translate the Internet into terms we can understand, but we need the devices that connect us. The modems that translate the signal from analog to digital and digital to analog. The devices that actually shoot the signal into the sky or into the cable that connects us to the other side. The devices on the other side to receive us.

What Are the Types of WAN Links for Remote Areas?

Cables

This is still an internet access category and COULD be available in some remote areas. If a remote area is lucky to be able to have a hardline Internet connection, they probably have some other benefits like cable tv, phone service, power, etc.

Satellite

There are so many examples in this category, as many technologies exist today that take advantage of satellites in some fashion. These choices in rural areas are becoming much more popular than they used to. Hughes Net is one of the mainstream satellite Internet providers. Others include mobile communications teams in the Militaries around the world, as well as cruise ships and other traveling entities. Low orbit satellites are being proposed to be used to provide broadband access to the globe (([SpaceX]), which is also super cool. Imagine a blanket of satellites covering the globe in low-earth orbit giving Internet access and knowledge to all!

Point to Point Antenna

These antennas can be close range or long range and use a multitude of frequencies to connect each other at varying speeds. Some use microwaves, some use lower frequencies. Two antennas can connect each other, either with a line of sight link or by bouncing off of the atmosphere, and link two locations together. This way, one location can share their access with others.

Mobile

Hotspots. Smartphones. 3G antennas with routers built in. Despite its slower speeds, the 3G networks have been around long enough to be accessible in some remote locations now. 4G/LTE might get like that someday (if it doesn’t get overshadowed by another way one of the many innovators provides to give global access). In many countries, mobile phones are the main sources of internet access. We have the knowledge at our fingertips! Hotspots too, if you want to share with your friends and family.

Conclusion

Getting Internet access to remote areas is a tough thing to do at times. Limited resources definitely constrain our ability to do so, but, regardless of the setbacks, this should be something that’s a goal for all capable countries. Sharing knowledge and providing a way to communicate is something that is essential to our growth as human beings. There are many ways to do so as discussed here. If there are capabilities available, when will Internet for all exist?

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