Porting Wireless ISP Services To More Than 1,900 Marinas
Global Wireless Services opens up a new market by bringing Internet access to boaters via wireless networking.
In 2000, Global Yachts International (Miami), a nationwide reseller of luxury yachts, decided to expand its product offerings. More specifically, Global wanted to develop a service to offer wireless high-speed Internet access to marinas. What resulted was a new branch of Global Yachts called Global Wireless Services.
After an investigation of the technology needed for such an endeavor, representatives at Global Yachts decided to use Agere Systems' (Allentown, PA) ORiNOCO wireless network products. (Agere Systems was formerly known as the microelectronics group of Lucent Technologies.) Next, Global contacted Agere value-added distributor Winncom Technologies (Solon, OH). A subsidiary of ARC Wireless Solutions, Inc., Winncom provides wireless network solutions for data, voice, and telemetry applications.
Several Miles Of Wireless Internet Access
SeaLine, a 20,000-square-foot marina in Miami, was the first site selected for the Global Wireless service. Winncom supplied the equipment and helped with the installation. According to Winncom President and CEO Gregory Raskin, "The ISP (Internet service provider) connection comes to the marina via T1 lines that feed into the ORiNOCO wireless equipment. Basically, three products were needed in different quantities and combinations to service the marina." Those products included:
- The ORiNOCO AS-2000 is used as the access server that routes the signal to the individual customers. A single AS-2000 can service approximately 200 client hookups. Some large marinas require the installation of up to four additional AS-2000 units.
- To distribute the AS-2000 signal to the computers aboard the yachts, Winncom installed an antenna on top of a building in the middle of the marina. The AS-2000 connects to the T1 connections through wireless ORiNOCO remote office routers (RORs). Two RORs are needed to form a bridge between any two points.
- Aboard the yachts, the customer's connection is completed via an ORiNOCO fixed wireless PC card. The AS-2000 can directly service laptops, onboard computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), or any other 802.11b-compatible devices containing this card. The marina service provides ORiNOCO Silver PC cards to any customer who needs one.
As soon as the customer's computer is turned on, the wireless modem detects the Global Wireless signal and starts providing Internet access. Just as at home, users must enter an assigned name and password. Each participating marina is networked to Global's customer database, so that passwords will be recognized as soon as users key them in. The wireless signal is normally strong enough for good service up to two miles from the marina. Although geography and weather affect the signal's radius, customers can normally use the system well before they get to the dock.
What About Wireless Network Security?
Direct sequence spread spectrum (DSSS) technology allows the broadcast signal to be partitioned. This allows multiple users to share the same band of frequency without interference. In terms of security, "The AS-2000 uses the RADIUS (remote authentication dial-in user service) protocol," Raskin explained. "This protocol manages authentication between the access server and ISP user database. It authenticates users before they can access the network and maintains a billing record for each user."
Further security is provided by a 128-bit per-user/per-session encryption algorithm. This algorithm automatically generates unique encryption keys for user assignment without the need for user or IT manager intervention. Once the key is set and assigned to a boat, a boater can make an Internet connection anywhere Global Wireless Services network connections are available. "The key makes eavesdropping or any other form of unauthorized network access almost impossible," Raskin said. "The key is not only needed when connecting to an access point, it's needed by anyone attempting to listen in on messages."
1,900 Customers Are Waiting
Seventy-five major marinas have already agreed to join in the Global Wireless network. Some of the features Global provides include:
- complete wireless services aboard the customer's boat with transmission speeds up to T1 speed (1.5Mb/sec)
- service instantly available for boats pulling into any marina in the Global Wireless network. Global.net traffic is carried over Cable & Wireless' IP (Internet protocol) network, which offers a range of local, national, and international connection options.
- the choice of port-only and bundled-port plus home and/or office access service
- a 24-hour boating browser that provides navigation data, "Boating Best" marina information services, and listings of waterfront services and amenities
- Internet utilities, including mail relay, routing registry for online routing changes, news, and domain name services.
In the coming months, participating marinas will be networked so yacht owners will be able to cruise from port to port with instant Internet access upon arrival. In 2002, Global Wireless plans to make its services available at 1,900 marinas along the coastal United States (both Atlantic and Pacific) and the Great Lakes.Questions about this article? E-mail the author at DanS@corrypub.com.