In this time of distributed networks and digitization where greater amounts of data must be obtained from devices which received minimal monitoring, the case for creating an engineered network solution has never been stronger.
Offering full visibility over the grid in a cost-effective manner, a wireless multi-tier solution is designed to balance capacity, coverage and cost in a narrowband licensed spectrum.
Why choose a multi-tier solution/field area network?
Populating the whole of a Field Area Network (FAN) with high capacity radios, irrespective of the data capacity requirements at each location, would needlessly involve greater expense. The multi-tier solution, however, couples these higher capacity radios at the center of the network (where large amounts of data is aggregated) with lower cost, lower capacity radios at network endpoints.
The result is an engineered solution which provides the ability to better manage a) differing capacity requirements across the network and b) frequency reuse. This overall offers better value for money.
When to choose a multi-tier solution?
When you are constrained by spectrum availability. With spectrum becoming increasingly scarce and costly, it makes sense to only send the data you really need and to optimize that data throughput in the channels you own through use of MIMO technology and higher levels of modulation.
When your access to data is mission-critical. Relying on unlicensed spectrum and slow rates of data transfer may simply be too risky for certain aspects of your business. Where a lack of available data could result in either damage to equipment, service outages or a threat to human safety, it makes sense to choose a communications solution which can give you near-instant visibility of your grid.
When you have differing capacity requirements across your network. If you are connecting with a multitude of equipment across your network, your variable capacity requirements make the design of a multi-tier solution a practical option.
Where low cost of deployment is important. With end point locations requiring a less “engineered” approach during installation, a multi-tier solution allows for a lower overall cost to deploy the communications network.
How the multi-tier solution works
Tier 1 – this is the centralized base where data is aggregated, and latency and capacity are key issues. The capital outlay at this level is higher and deployment and coverage is engineered. The use of MIMO technology to maximise spectral efficiency at this level (where data capacity requirements are higher) will also allow additional applications to use the network, thereby improving return on investment.
Tier 2 – this is the network of endpoints where data transfer is typically low. As the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) takes off, vast numbers of intelligent industrial products will be required to communicate with each other, thereby generating data which would be transmitted at this Tier 2 level. The radios at this level are low cost, require less expertise during deployment and often also only require one employee to install.
Ultimately, the multi-tier solution is designed to balance coverage and data transfer rates with cost. It’s about developing a cleverly engineered solution which delivers the appropriate capacity, at the level required, for each location – thereby saving unnecessary costs while maximizing the delivery of data.