I have been researching 3.65 GHz WiMax lately, and I am surprised that I am not seeing or reading about this technology being utilized in the Oil & Gas sector.
As unconventionals move more and more to multiple wells on a pad, the role wireless networks play are becoming much more important. Not that long ago the main role of the typical wireless network was to integrate flow data into the SCADA system on a scheduled basis which varied from company to company.
Now with multi-million dollar well pad locations becoming the norm, the role of the wireless network is morphing to look a lot like what you would find in the interstate pipeline sector.
Not only do companies need to be able to monitor their assets on a nearly real-time basis, many of these wireless networks are competing for bandwidth and spectrum with M2M communications taking place on the pad itself for automation/safety, distributed control, etc.
No one wireless topology is a catch-all, and they all have their pros and cons.
Unlicensed spectrum (902-928 MHz) usually can give you more bandwidth than licensed equipment, but suffers from LOS issues, and using SAF’s or repeaters to compensate can negate the added bandwidth by reducing throughput.
Licensed equipment that is lower in the radio spectrum such as 220 MHz and 450 MHz doesn’t suffer nearly as bad from LOS issues, and performs better in wooded areas & hilly terrain, but has limited bandwidth. Most licensed equipment is limited to 12.5 kHz or 25 kHz. A 25 kHz channel is limited to a max of 19.2 K baud throughput.
To have a successful network, it’s going to take a mix of these and other technologies going forward.
What I don’t see happening is much thought going into backhaul.
Most backhaul is accomplished with VSAT’s and cellular modems.
VSAT’s can suffer in bad weather, and with cellular devices there’s the whole security issue and also being at the whim of connectivity that you have no control over. Both of these can get quite expensive when covering a large geographic area. (Also I personally don’t believe SCADA systems should be subjected to the public internet or “the cloud”, but that’s always up for debate.)
I feel that a good network should be structured in a cellular fashion, with each cell or area using whatever radio network topology suits that area best, and also structuring the network to keep repeaters or SAF’s to a minimum. All of these “cells” would be connected with a high bandwidth P2P backhaul backbone.
After researching 3.65 GHz WiMax, it looks like this technology would integrate well in this kind of system.
Licensing seems to be pretty simple and cost-effective, as the license is really just the FCC trying to coordinate transmitter locations to limit possible interference. The equipment also seems to be very cost-effective, is nearly carrier class, and with the bandwidth available also seems to be “future proof”. Network performance data I have researched shows that this technology should perform very well in many different terrains and environments.
Just my two cents
by Rob Graham 3/14/2014