NSTIx Challenge: Long Distance Wi-Fi
NSTIx would like to develop a system to receive a Wi-Fi signal from 700m-1km in dense urban environments with congested RF signals.
NSTIx (National Security Technology Innovation Exchange) would like to develop a system to receive a Wi-Fi signal from at least several hundred metres, up to a kilometre, in dense urban environments with congested RF signals. This would connect to a client device (i.e. Laptop, tablet, Mobile Phone) to supply a stable Wi-Fi connection.
There can be no alterations to the Wi-Fi AP, conversely there are no operating restrictions on the client-side. Size is of no issue, although consideration should be given to mobile deployment teams who travel in SUV’s or small vans. Power is also of no issue at this stage and will be considered as the solution develops.
We are keen to hear from a spectrum of ideas, from TRL1-9, basic research, feasibility, up to off-the- shelf product development. To help shape this challenge, here is a non-exhaustive list of ideas that you may consider:
– Horizon scanning solutions using expertise and knowledge of commercial offerings. – Environmental RF modelling.
– RF Interference cancellation to signal boost, which could be AI/ML enabled.
– RF Repeaters.
– Beam Forming.
– Innovative Antennas.
What is the current state for this Challenge?
The invention of Wi-Fi has clearly had an impact on society with its ubiquity taken for granted. There are ongoing issues for useability in certain niche scenarios. A Wi-Fi router range will vary depending on the environment but could be from just a few metres to tens of metres. To extend this range, extenders and additional Wi-Fi Access Points (AP’s) are typically used. This becomes complex in congested Radio-Frequency (RF) environments like the ones found in dense urban environments in particular at the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz band, resulting in interference and postponing of transmission (Ruirong Chen et al., SenSys 2022) though Wi-Fi 7 goes some way to resolve this.
What is the gap?
There is a client-side gap connecting to a Wi-Fi AP from a significant distance away, potentially hundreds of metres, up to a kilometre, particularly in congested RF environments.
National Security personnel who operate globally use internet connected equipment in scenarios where it is not desirable or possible to connect to a third party Wi-Fi AP or cellular provider.
Examples include countries where there are concerns about the privacy and cyber security of third- party Wi-Fi or cellular connections and the only option is to connect to their own secure and trusted Wi-Fi AP. In addition, disaster areas where there is a reduced internet service provided due to local infrastructure damage and the only desired option is to connect to Wi-Fi Aps or cellular base stations that are out of current range.
In these scenarios, it is typical for rapid mobile deployment teams to be on the move and out of current range from any UK estate with a secure WI-FI AP or a working internet connection disaster area. The mobile teams may only remain on location for a matter of hours or days, so it is unlikely they will have capacity to install additional internet infrastructure. It may also not be feasible to alter the Wi-Fi AP they are attempting to connect to, such as increasing power.
This challenge is to address a client-side solution which would give access to a Wi-Fi AP from several hundred meters, up to a kilometre, in dense urban environments with congested RF signals.
Innovate UK KTN’s Innovation Exchange is a cross-sector programme supporting innovation transfer by matching industry challenges to innovative companies from other sectors. It does this by putting large businesses with technical needs in contact with companies who have the right innovative solutions, for faster development of novel solutions.