Wireless fidelity (WiFi) connectivity can play an important role in increasing efficiencies and productivity at harbours and ports in Africa, global WiFi technology solutions provider Ruckus Wireless sub-Saharan Africa sales director Michael Fletcher tells Engineering News.
“WiFi is a more cost-effective and an easier-to-deploy access medium of broadband, in comparison with global system for mobile communications or licensed-based options. Therefore, deploying WiFi at harbours and ports can provide a better user experience,” he says.
Fletcher notes that, owing to increased use of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, port and harbour operators should consider WiFi solutions to support business applications, such as electronic systems that staff can access using tablet devices to provide them with more flexible working conditions.
“Our Ruckus ZoneFlex Smart WiFi is a collection of technologies developed by Ruckus, designed to extend the range and reliability of wireless signals. These technologies eliminate a significant portion of the cost and complexity of conventional wireless local area network deployments.”
Moreover, Fletcher points out that Smart WiFi includes recent technical advances in beam steering, beam forming, adaptive signal-path selection, the quality of service and traffic classification, with advanced radio frequency (RF) signal routing delivering consistent performance and maintaining stable connections.
He acknowledges that harbours and ports are highly challenging from a wireless-performance perspective, as “there is generally little or no existing networking infrastructure”.
“Changes in user or cargo density can drastically impact on the network, resulting in poor connections, low user satisfaction and unacceptable network quality.”
However, Fletcher asserts that the Ruckus ZoneFlex Smart WiFi has been specifically designed to work in such challenging environments, where the solution can increase signal coverage throughput and network capacity by sending out multiple beams to steer around obstacles.
“The WiFi mitigates interference and focuses RF energy only where it is required to ensure maximum coverage and consistent performance within longer ranges.
“The solution provides reliable coverage for these challenging operating environments, resulting in less downtime, fewer support calls and management interventions and, most importantly, greater productivity,” he states.
Fletcher says that, for these reasons, several ports in Africa, including several in Mozambique, Kenya and Namibia, are using the Ruckus Smart WiFi solution.