Understanding the Wireless
A White Paper
Concerns and Safeguards *
WISP and ISP
Competitive Advantages *
Pyxis Broadband offers a wholesale
alternative to landline fiber via a carrier-grade, wireless
backbone operating in a secure, FCC licensed frequency
The ultimate goal of this service
is to provide the WISP, ISP and Broadband markets with a
primary or secondary communication backbone that provides
appropriate bandwidth in a reliable, secure, scaleable and
cost effective manner.
Pyxis Broadband (Pyxis) has gone to
great lengths to establish a technical and architectural
foundation to accomplish these goals. This includes taking the
necessary steps to license a private frequency directly from
the FCC in which to operate the backbone. This allows the
engineering team at Pyxis to establish near interference-free
links between towers, increase the broadcasting power to
strengths overcoming rain fade, dropout, etc. and ensure a
much higher level of transmission security. Operating in this
frequency, Pyxis engineers opted to deploy commercial-grade
gear capable of 100Mbps full-duplex transmission while
simultaneously providing built-in authentication and
encryption. Further, Pyxis engineers continue to place towers
at only 80% of the nominally accepted range of the antennas,
therefore reducing the variables potentially compromising
performance, reliability and availability.
Aside from the technical
architecture, Pyxis is committed to providing cost effective
solutions to wholesale customers only. Pyxis will not compete
with its customers by selling direct to their end-consumers as
is typically the case with traditional carriers. Pyxis has
invested considerably to tie into an extensive network of dark fiber to ensure
virtually limitless bandwidth availability, redundancy and to
provide a true alternative to common landline providers.
Additionally, as the Pyxis backbone grows, additional tie-ins
will be established utilizing an entirely separate fiber loop.
In this scenario, a near-Chicago Loop entity can tap into the
wireless backbone and not touch a landline connection to the
Internet for potentially 50 miles, establishing a
business-continuity oriented, redundant connection not
In combination with the wholesale
strategy, Pyxis offers additional benefits to be considered by
WISP’s and ISP’s. Specifically, the bandwidth offered by the
Pyxis backbone is scaleable. A provider may start with a 6Mbps
connection today and upgrade to a 8Mbps connection next month
with no additional gear or upfront expenses. Conversely, a
provider may wish to dial back its bandwidth for a period of
time or in exchange for another solution. In either case,
Pyxis has strategically built an infrastructure to allow for
ups and downs associated with the wireless market.
Another distinct benefit for a WISP
or ISP is co-locating on the same Pyxis towers, thereby
reducing overall equipment, labor and maintenance costs.
Providers are no longer bound to establishing points of access
where and when a landline becomes accessible in relationship
to a tower being constructed. Rather, a WISP or ISP can
establish a connection literally anywhere within a specified
number of miles with line of site access to a Pyxis
All told, Pyxis Broadband
represents a unique and cost effective solution with a
significant, carrier-grade technical infrastructure to address
the needs of the WISP and ISP markets.
In the past 18 to 36 months, the
WISP market in Chicagoland has seen significant adoption and
growth. Specifically, as you get further away from the city
limits, with the limited availability of DSL or digital cable
access, WISP’s offer a price-competitive Internet access
solution for businesses and homeowners. Often, the WISP
represents the only viable broadband solution next to
expensive and latency-affected satellite based
As the WISP market continues to
grow, a common dilemma is encountered by all who opt to wade
into the turbulent waters; where should we (or more often,
where can we) put towers to service the largest number
of customers? Where can the towers be physically located? What
access is available at the bottom of the tower? What kind of
access do we have to the facilities? Who else has access to
the tower? And so on...
It seemed ironic that the WISP’s,
whose main offering is to overcome physical and geographical
roadblocks, were now bound to the same limitations themselves!
What the industry needed is a solution based on the same
strategy they already believed in and were advocates of. Why
does each tower need to have landline access? Why can’t a WISP
tap into a larger, more powerful wireless backbone that, in
turn, tapped into the existing Internet infrastructure some
place off in a distant and non-obtrusive facility?
A solution started taking shape in
recent years and is now a viable solution for consideration by
WISP’s and ISP’s operating in the Chicago suburbs.
The solution soon became know as the Wireless Backbone, or
"Fiber in the Sky". A network of communication towers
interconnecting at fiber speeds (100Mbps, full-duplex), with
coverage in the Chicagoland suburbs, where most WISP’s were
targeting their services.
If a backbone were to be built, it needed to be as stable
and reliable as other connectivity options. "Five-nines"
(99.999% uptime) became the foundational goal and all gear,
architectural and service considerations would need to be
worthy enough to support this goal. Taken a step further, the
strategists at Pyxis agreed they needed more than just
reliable "fiber in the sky". They needed to alleviate various
issues that currently plagued the WISP’s options.
- A WISP, more often than not, ended up competing against
their supplier. If a WISP used the local Telco for their T1
access, they continually run up against the local Telco when
a business or homeowner compared DSL to wireless Internet
- Once a WISP made the investment in a line, they had very
limited options for expansion and no option to throttle back
their bandwidth without huge penalties.
- It is common to associate wireless with varying
performance and always with the potential of interference.
Every WISP knows what happens to their customers that are
"on the edge" when that once-a-year thunderstorm rolls
These three issues became the hallmark of the Pyxis
backbone to truly offer not only an alternative to landline
providers, but an attractive alternative with benefits above
First, Pyxis will only sell to the
wholesale market and will not compete with their customers,
plain and simple. Pyxis will not compete with its customers by
selling direct to their end-consumers as is typically the case
with traditional carriers. Second, Pyxis would establish a
pricing structure rivaling the best rates available and allow
scaleable bandwidth options, up and down. Third, Pyxis
would invest in licensing a private frequency directly from
the FCC in which to operate their backbone to ensure
high-performance, highly-reliable, interference-free
connections between towers
The first tower with a touch-point to
landlines is located in Naperville. Pyxis has three separate
lines running into this facility representing over a Gig of
primary, active bandwidth, a second equally fat pipe as a
backup and a third DS3 with a completely separate provider as
an extra failover. While this facility could represent as much
as 10Gbps of primary, active bandwidth, the Pyxis design calls
for adding additional touch-points in geographically disperse
locations, each providing their own bandwidth and inherent
redundancy. Current design considerations call for a ratio of
5:1 of towers to touch-points.
After extensive research and testing, the
engineers at Pyxis opted to go with DragonWave, an innovative
supplier of next-generation wireless gear, for the antennas,
radios and base stations. This gear, when deployed with 48"
antennas, is capable of 100Mbps, full-duplex transmissions at
the frequency licensed by the FCC at a nominal range of 10
miles. Pyxis engineers have opted to space the towers at just
under 8 miles, to ensure a stronger signal more impervious to
The radios themselves have two independent and
unique transmission paths from a frequency and
authentication/encryption viewpoint. Extrapolated, these links
will represent a ring or partial-mesh configuration where all
towers are always communicating in two separate directions.
Should a wireless communication link ever fail, traffic simply
travels the other direction on the "ring" until it finds a
touch-point to a landline.
Each facility has its own base station capable
of a wide variety of interfaces to connect with co-located
customer gear, thereby reducing the equipment necessary to
provide end-customer access. Additionally, Pyxis customers are
in the unique position to offer unlicensed frequencies
and to resell licensed bandwidth to their customers
demanding a higher level of transmission confidentiality,
integrity and availability.
SECURITY CONCERNS AND
The layered security approach of the Pyxis
engineers starts at the towers themselves. Several security
safeguards are fundamental characteristics of the gear from
- The radios operate at a FCC licensed
frequency with proprietary synchronization and framing
techniques. Any intruder would need the same, carrier-grade
gear from DragonWave to capture the data stream.
- The radios broadcast in a narrow,
directional beam requiring a paired antenna to be within 1°
of beam center. An intruder would need to place their
DragonWave gear in the direct path of the beam to
even see the data stream in order to capture it.
- DragonWave modems, at either end-point,
encrypt each transmitted packet using a unique key.
Additionally, the data is further masked when the modems
fill idle air time with random data patterns.
- The DragonWave modems employ unique,
point-to-point authentication which happens out-of-band so
as to not affect the performance of the primary link. This
particular authentication means an intruder would not be
able to authenticate to a tower if another tower had already
The combination of these security safeguards
ensures a safe and predictable backbone rivaling the inherent
security aspects of landline fiber. However, as with any major
backbone, there will be a huge number of unknown users within
the same data space. None of these safeguards preclude the
advantages of providers or end-customers deploying their own
safeguards including traditional firewalls, VPN’s or intrusion
WISP and ISP COMPETITIVE
The architecture and deployment
characteristics of the Pyxis backbone represent unique
advantages to traditional landline carriers.
- Scaleable. Pyxis
customers enjoy the flexibility of adjusting bandwidth on a
monthly basis without the expense of additional gear. This
allows WISP’s and ISP’s to add bandwidth incrementally in
much smaller steps as their requirements grow. Additionally,
Pyxis will allow a customer to reduce their bandwidth at the
same interval. In this scenario, a provider can more easily
move into a larger pipe without the fear of committing to a
huge capital outlay, either one-time or ongoing without the
option to scale back should the unexpected occur. To
facilitate this process of right-sizing, Pyxis will
continually make available bandwidth reports showing each
customer their exact monthly bandwidth usage and trends over
a designated period.
- Licensed or Unlicensed. Pyxis has invested considerable time and dollars to
license a private frequency from the FCC and will provide
the use of frequency to their customers, not only for
backbone use, but for private, appropriately sanctioned
links as well. This opens a potentially untapped market of
providing wireless links that are more reliable, more secure
and meet end customers specific requirements.
- Boundless Deployment. WISP’s and ISP’s now have considerably more options
in terms of where they place towers and what areas they can
service. Additionally, expansion and territorial growth is
limited only to how fast gear can be deployed within line of
site of the Pyxis backbone, and not tied to towers that have
landline access in predetermined and fixed locations.
- Disaster Recovery/Business
Continuity. The fundamental nature
of a wireless backbone represents a unique strategy in terms
of backup or alternative communications. There are many
scenarios where a natural and/or man-made disturbance will
affect landlines, but not typically wireless communications
as in construction mishaps or even phone company "issues".
Once on the Pyxis backbone, data can travel over these
disturbances to find one of, potentially several,
touch-points back into the Internet or private
As an advocate and purveyor of wireless
technologies, the Pyxis customer already understands the
numerous advantages associated with the various services and
offerings in the wireless market. The Pyxis backbone
introduces the next generation of advancement to replicate
these services more quickly, more cost-effectively and to the
advantage of all end customers.
The Pyxis engineers stand ready to work with
customers to help:
- Capitalize on the advantages of the
backbone and incorporate these advantages into their service
offerings to end customers
- Design a deployment strategy, both short
and long term
- Examine the most cost effective options in
terms of gear, bandwidth and services
- Further explore and educate on the
intricate aspects of the licensed market
- Discuss various security safeguards, both
inherent to the architectural nature of the backbone, and
those that may be added by the provider or end
offers a wholesale alternative to landline fiber via
carrier-grade, wireless backbone operating in a secure,
FCC licensed frequency.
Call or write us
today at 630- 443- 8201 or [email protected]