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Weightless-N smart city network goes live in London

Steve Rogerson
June 19, 2015
A Weightless-N smart city network has gone live in London. The network, operating on Nwave technology, has been deployed by the Digital Catapult, a national centre to advance the UK’s best digital ideas, which is making available the infrastructure on which a Weightless base station is deployed.
Operating in sub-1GHz, licence-exempt ISM spectrum using ultra narrow band (UNB) technology, Weightless-N signal propagation characteristics give a range of several kilometres, even in urban environments such as the city of London. Low power consumption provides end points with battery life measured in years from small conventional cells.
London is one of the world’s largest cities, the largest municipality in Europe with over 21 million people in a metropolitan area covering over 8000 square kilometres. Siting of base stations to support an efficient, low cost city-wide network is an important part of the deployment planning process.
“We are delighted to be able to provide a platform to showcase Weightless-N technology, a key enabler for smart city projects not just across the capital but around the world,” said Peter Karney, head of engineering at Digital Catapult. “We are looking forward to opening this up to our network to enable them to continue to showcase the UK’s innovation in this area; we will be leading an open call in the near future allowing these innovators to register their interest in the project.”
Network modelling predicts coverage encompassing well known London landmarks including Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London to the south and the Emirates Stadium – home of Arsenal football club – to the north. Independent real world signal verification will shortly be carried out to provide an accurate coverage map and this will be published on the Weightless web site when complete.
Yury Birchenko, CEO of Nwave Technologies, described the network as “a groundbreaking milestone – the first public network deployment from Nwave since the publication of the Weightless-N open standard”.
Weightless-N is designed around a differential binary phase shift keying (DBPSK) digital modulation scheme to transmit within narrow frequency bands using a frequency hopping algorithm for interference mitigation and enhanced security. It provides for encryption and implicit authentication using a shared secret key regime to encode transmitted information via a 128bit AES algorithm.
The technology supports mobility with the network automatically routing terminal messages to the correct destination. Multiple networks, typically operated by different companies, are enabled and can be co-located. Each base station queries a central database to determine which network the terminal is registered to in order to decode and route data accordingly.