The city of Dublin is running a trial of an open source WiFi6 system to provide free connectivity.
The council is working with Virgin Media on a network that is compliant with the WiFi4EU specification for public WiFi using OpenWiFi technology from the Telecom Infra Project (TIP).
This is similar to the TIP Open RAN project for cellular networks that allows equipment from different suppliers to be used. The aim of the project is to demonstrate the disaggregated nature of the network so that other suppliers can be added as the network grows.
The WiFi4EU initiative promotes free access to WiFi in public spaces including parks, squares, public buildings, libraries, health centres and museums in municipalities throughout Europe. Towns and cities receive a voucher that pays for the network including maintenance of the equipment to offer free and high-quality Wi-Fi connectivity for at least three years.
The system is based around equipment that uses Qualcomm processors pre-installed with the TIP OpenWiFi software. This open source-based Wi-Fi architecture enables multi-vendor, interoperable Wi-Fi networks.
“For the trial, the City of Dublin is using Access Points from both Edgecore (EAP101) and HFCL (ion4xe) combined with a Controller from NetExperience,” said Neil Bullock, Technical Program Manager for Smart Cities at Telecom Infra Project.
The EAP101 from Taiwanese supplier Edgecore is based on the IPQ6010 processor, a quad core ARM Cortex-A53 that supports up to four spatial streams of Wi-Fi 6 connectivity across both 5 and 2.4GHz bands, with multi-user scheduling across downlink and uplink MU-MIMO and OFDMA to simultaneously manage up to 1000 users.
The ion4xe from HFCL in India is also based on the IPQ6101 and supports upto 1024 users.
“This solution can be deployed in both indoor and outdoor scenarios,” said Bullock. “There are additional ODMs and OEMs coming into the ecosystem and in 2023 there will be more TIP OpenWiFi-compliant AP and Controllers for Smart Cities, like Dublin, to use in their WiF4EU deployments.”
A TIP OpenWiFi network can also support OpenRoaming, with no change in hardware or software. This allows users to automatically connect to WiFi networks without logging in and also offloads mobile connectivity and enables wireless convergence, using the Wireless Broadband Alliance’s Wireless Roaming Intermediary eXchange (WRIX) standards.
Municipalities can learn more about TIP OpenWiFi and the initiative here.