If you own an iPhone, you already know what wireless data congestion looks like. It's when your phone tells you that you have a strong signal, but you can't connect to the 3G network, or you can get only a very weak, very slow connection.
The reason is because the cell site you're using has reached its capacity, or perhaps the backhaul is at capacity. Either way, you can't get your data through the pipe that's available to you.
As high speed data networking demands grow, the iPhone problem is going to hit more and more carriers. This will happen because people are buying tablet devices that can show movies, devices with video conferencing, music downloads or data for voice services such as Skype. But whatever the reason, the demand will grow, and today's seemingly vast LTE and WiMax networks will begin to seem very limited indeed.
Part of the problem is that 4G doesn't lend itself all that well to very dense environments, so as data demand grows in the urban core of cities, the problem won't get better just by adding more LTE or WiMax sites. Fortunately, there's WiFi. It's also fortunate that most of the current crop of smart phones support WiFi in addition to 3G/4G. Ruckus Wireless, a company that has been involved in delivering outdoor and last mile WiFi data solutions for years, has announced that it has a solution to this impending problem.
The idea is a new crop of 802.11n access points and other devices that can provide reliable communications in tightly packed environments and provide high-speed backhaul and point-to-multipoint delivery solutions. The Ruckus Mobile Internet products have the ability to provide reliable WiFi wireless communications to users equipped with compatible products whether they're inside or outside. The new product line includes access points designed for exterior use as well as features such as a wireless backhaul that can handle more than 80M bps at distances as great as 8 kilometers.
According to David Callisch, marketing vice president for Ruckus, this wireless backhaul is dramatically less expensive than the existing microwave or fiber optic links used by carriers, but it still provides carrier-grade reliability and manageability. Ruckus has also released a WiFi management system, its Flexmaster 9.0, that can manage the thousands of self-configuring meshed access points necessary to cover a large urban area. Such products are already in use in India and Chile where the existing carrier infrastructure won't support the bandwidth demands of wireless networking.