WISPAmerica 2022 Recap: Disaggregated Routers, PON, and Link Bonding

A couple weeks ago, Ethernity exhibited its UEP2025 and UEP-20 network appliances at WISPAmerica, one of the two annual conferences of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association. The conference was well-attended and generally successful, with lots of foot traffic and great interest in our products.

In fact, there was significant demand for reasonably-priced cell site routers with 1G and 10G interfaces, especially once the benefits of Ethernity’s integrated patented link bonding were explained.

Most WISPs are small businesses that own or lease a few towers to provide broadband access and that invest their startup money primarily in a supporting backhaul network. The fact that Ethernity’s bonding technology would allow these WISPs the flexibility to connect to any radio unit, no matter the vendor and no matter the frequency, introduces a previously unexpected measure of cost-savings into the WISP deployment, as the service provider is no longer beholden to a given vendor’s equipment, which is necessarily going to come at a premium when it’s the only available option.

This is the essence of disaggregation, which was very clearly the buzzword at this conference and has been a concept that Ethernity has championed for the past couple years. Disaggregation enables enterprises to eliminate the cost associated with procurement and maintenance of hardware equipment and to handle multiple workloads with maximum uptime and improved performance. Through this, and by eliminating vendor lock-in, it can generate significant savings in a company’s operational expenses.

Ethernity is able to take disaggregation to another level through the use of the ultimate platform for disaggregating networks, the FPGA. FPGAs improve performance while avoiding vendor lock-in, and they futureproof the network, thereby saving on long-term operating expenses and reducing total cost of ownership.

As more WISPs began to take note of the advantages of Ethernity’s FPGA-based products and link bonding technology, the more serious their inquiries into the specifics of our offerings became.

Ethernity can also offer a side benefit to WISPs through our PON solutions. While some WISPs offer exclusively fixed wireless access, others also offer fiber-to-the-home broadband access. In a market that is serving a mostly rural clientele in low population density areas, PON-based fiber networks represent existing infrastructure that can save these small business owners from having to invest as much in their networks.

However, most PON solutions today are larger devices that offer more ports than the average WISP requires. This unnecessarily raises the price, let alone the power consumption, which severely restricts a WISP’s ability to turn a profit.

Ethernity’s appliances are ideal for the PON deployments because we offer low power, low port-count devices that are capable of providing both PON and Ethernet interfaces. Ethernity’s bonding technology also works over both wireless and wired connections. This is the beauty of the FPGA’s flexibility and Ethernity’s masterful firmware to handle so many use cases.

Perhaps the most significant observation I can make about WISPAmerica regards Ethernity’s penetration into this market. At one point, I was able to wander the tradeshow floor to gain a sense of who was in attendance and who were the major manufacturers catering to this industry. Around every corner, seemingly, there was another Ethernity customer. There were fixed wireless access customers and there were wireless backhaul customers.  In fact, my rough estimate was that Ethernity’s technology can already be found in about 50% of the OEMs who were exhibiting at WISPAmerica!

In other words, Ethernity is in the right place at the right time to supply the best-in-class technology and products to an industry that is eager to embrace disaggregated networking.