Have you ever wondered how your internet gets to your home when you use our service? Or are you considering taking up our services and want to understand how we deliver connectivity. We love curiosity and helping our clients understand more about how we work!
iNet Africa is primarily a Wireless ISP (or WISP as it’s known in the biz). That means we deliver all of our connectivity via wireless radio communication. You can read the differences between wired (nowadays mainly optical fibre) and wireless networks here.
Our distribution system is broken into 3 mains parts:
- Towers & Access Points
- Customer Premise Equipment (CPE)
The backbone or backhaul of any network is the main source of the internet to our distribution sites or base stations, Seen in the picture above as the link between the internet and our Tower. This is an optical fibre cable that connects all of our base stations to our main offices in Malindi and Watamu and then goes all the way to Mombasa, where it is now routed out to the global internet via undersea optical fibre cables that travel thousands of kilometres on the sea-bed. These optical cables are able to carry up-to 10Gbps of data all the way from Malindi to Mombasa and back to Malindi at only 3 milliseconds (this is called the latency, how long it takes for a packet, fancy word for a piece of data to travel between two internet devices).
To provide the level of reliability that our customers have now gotten accustomed to we have multiple fibres that enter Malindi and Watamu on different pathways to ensure we always have at-least one link online if the other gets damaged or cut.
TOWERS & ACCESS POINTS
The wired connection is converted to a wireless signal at our towers using access points.
These are radio’s that take in a wired connection and output a signal in the 5Ghz frequency that is conducted out to the air by a connected antenna into electromagnetic waves, which can be received by other antennas and converted back to wired signals. These radio waves are not harmful to humans at all, high frequencies are ionising, at 5Ghz these signal’s are less harmful than the light that comes out of your light bulbs at home.
The access points are placed on tall towers to provide maximum coverage, due to the nature of the 5Ghz wave we need to have a line of sight between the access points and receiver, meaning the signal can be blocked by tree’s and buildings and being high enough allows us to avoid such obstacles. Malindi and Watamu are quite a flat terrain which allow’s us to have a good coverage using only a few base stations.
CUSTOMER PREMISE EQUIPMENT
Signal’s are converted to electromagnetic waves by the antennas, these can be converted back to electricity when they come into contact with another antenna, and the level of that power received is called the signal strength. We mount radio’s with integrated antennas on to the customer’s premises on to a pole upto 20 feet high, the height depends on height of
the building and tree coverage near by. The device is pointed toward the nearest base station and carefully aligned to get the best receive signal. If you already have a connection with us in
Malindi these are the dishes we put on your roof or the flat rectangular receiver on the poles in Watamu. This device converts the received signal back to electrical signals and passes it down to
your router which reconverts it back to WiFi which your devices are able to connect to and access the internet. The setup that we would do at your premise can be seen above in Fig 1 show’s a typical setup in your home. Sometimes we require 2 routers to ensure the WiFi signal has coverage in larger homes.