King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) today announced it will bring high speed, reliable community Wi-Fi service to the community thanks to innovative, low-cost radio technology. This deployment has been conducted in collaboration with the Communications, Space and Technology Commission (CST) and Meta, and is expected to scale through similar locations across the region, bringing affordable high-speed internet access to hundreds of thousands of people.
As a world-class leading research institution, KAUST's mission includes leveraging cutting-edge research to give back to the community. The Modern Architectural Contracting Company (MACC) camp, located about 1.5 km from the KAUST campus, previously offered no internet connectivity due to the lack of high-speed backhaul and distribution capacity to the Wi-Fi nodes.
Hybrid radio frequency and free space optics (RF/FSO) systems have emerged as a promising solution for reliable high-data-rate wireless connection between KAUST and the MACC camp. The deployment of Terragraph, a gigabit wireless technology developed by Meta, is allowing the validation of KAUST research in extreme bandwidth communication (i.e., mm-wave RF and FSO), with the potential to develop new practical switching algorithms for hybrid mm-wave RF/FSO links. In this context, weather stations installed in KAUST and the camp will be used to monitor climate variables that could affect the operation of FSO systems and the switching between FSO and mm-wave RF backhaul links.
"Fiber would have been way too expensive to deploy, not only as a backhaul between KAUST and the camp, but also as a distribution technology within the camp, notwithstanding the lack of flexibility as housing configurations tend to change," said Dr. Mohamed-Slim Alouini, Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "We needed a low-cost, high-speed alternative to fiber that can be redeployed at little to no cost. Terragraph was the perfect choice."