The African telecommunication quandary
wireless Narrowband networks – low speed inexpensive wireless
networks that can be deployed very quickly to cover vast geographical
areas because of minimal terrain restrictions. It is Arrow
Network Systems’ major business objective to provide wireless Narrowband
solutions throughout Africa by partnering with an experienced
equipment maker and network provider, and also obtain license
to manufacture the technology in Ghana to further reduce cost
to African users.
assemble and deploy both narrowband and broadband radios in
Racom’s Narrowband technology, the Morse
radio, across Africa for low speed (up to 22kbps) and
low cost networks for IP and
async/sync serial corporate wide
area networks, Auto Teller Machine networks, point-of-sale
systems, debit and credit card
applications, fleet tracking,
remote sensor data collection, bulk oil/gas pipeline monitoring
systems and general telemetry
the Morse technology to provide large scale,
access in under-served communities.
Racom’s expertise in building Narrowband
wide area networks available to Africa.
a manufacturing plant in Ghana’s free trade zone for
Racom’s modems to further reduce equipment cost.
high speed wireless links (in excess of 100mbps) for clients that require and can afford broadband links.
conjunction with Racom, we have deployed Ghana’s biggest point-of-sale
wide area network using Morse Narrowband for the Department
of National Lotteries (through TSS, UK Ltd and Simnet, Ghana
Ltd) . We have deployed networks for two major banks in Ghana,
and have also deployed networks for five banks in Nigeria
in partnership with our Nigerian partner, Bitcom Systems (VDT),
to provide on-line banking and 24-hour ATM access for remote
locations. Given the large geographical expanse, these companies
would have had to use VSAT technology, which is much more
expensive and less reliable than Morse Narrowband.
1.1 The key strengths of the MorseŽ Technology
provides inherent backup using a meshed topology which
translates to high network availability and resilience, 99%
and 100% error-free
provides coverage over wide geographical areas that are difficult
or expensive to cater for using other technologies.
provides in-built security mechanisms to protect user data
uses dispersed intelligence and so avoids the use of expensive
provides support for mobile data networks as a standard.
32-bit addressing, a Morse network can support up to 4billion
terminals on a network.
uses an in-built battery backup that can operate up to 24hours
without regular electricity.
Morse supports a wide range of transmission speeds
that start from as low as 9.6kbps to over
100mbps over broadband radios.
Morse requires minimal line of sight for operation,
thus eliminating the installation of tall masts and towers.
Morse is relatively inexpensive to deploy and maintain.
1.2 Detailed Description of the MorseŽ Radio
Arrow builds nation-wide wide area networks with performance
guarantees using both wireless Narrowband and Broadband
technologies. Frequencies employed for narrowband applications
are in the VHF and UHF bands, while microwave frequencies are
used for broadband applications with high speed provisions.
Narrowband data rates range between 9.6kbps and 200kbps, while
broadband rates go up to 108mbps using IEEE 802.11 a/b/g
standards. Areas of application include networks for corporate
branch offices, general payment systems (including Auto Teller
Machines, point-of-sale systems, debit and credit card systems),
fleet tracking, remote sensor data gathering, oil and gas
pipeline monitoring and low cost Internet access for
main technology used is a packet switched-based technology
named MorseŽ, developed by
s.r.o. of the Czech Republic. MorseŽ is a proven technology
with more than a decade in product development
history. It has
widespread usage in over 50 countries, including
Czech Republic, Austria, Russia, Poland, Slovak Republic, China,
Norway, the UAE, Nigeria and Ghana. The technology provides
both fixed and mobile data networks. Three standard async/sync
serial ports are provided at each remote site on the network
as well as an
IP (Internet Protocol) port. The serial ports are
expandable in multiples of 30 (or part thereof) using terminal
technology connects every terminal on the network to the central
site via a dedicated ‘always-open’ connection. Existing country
infrastructure, if found usable, is utilised to provide backbone
links, otherwise, Arrow creates its own independent national
With the use of 32-bit addressing,
network is scalable from less than 10 to over a million terminal
connections, providing synchronous/asynchronous serial
Ethernet IP connection at each location. Secure
connections, 100% error-free transmission, and 99.9%
Equipment Reliability are among the excellent features of the
MorseŽ technology. One key feature of the MorseŽ network
is that it is built as a self-healing meshed network, with each
node on the network enabled with alternate transmission paths to
provide inherent high network resilience.
MorseŽ is installed with backup batteries that enable the radios
to operate up to twenty-four (24) hours without regular
electricity. The network is centrally managed from anywhere on
the network with RANEC, Racom’s GIS (geographical information
system) and GUI-based management software that provides
diagnostic tools for remote monitoring and maintenance.
MorseŽ wireless wide area network technology, developed by
s.r.o. of the Czech Republic has been in development and
deployment for more than a decade for stationary and mobile data
networks. They are primarily used to connect remote workstation
terminals, point-of-sale terminals, debit/credit card systems,
remote measurement, automatic control, telemetry and security
systems and distributed collection points (bills, tax, custom
checkpoints, etc). It is a wireless technology primarily
deployed over licensed UHF/VHF frequencies to provide long
range, secure and reliable digital telecommunication using
packet switching. Synchronous/asynchronous serial and IP
(Internet Protocol) protocols are supported by the MorseŽ
technology. Terminal connectivity options available on the
network are Ethernet IP, RS232, RS485 and RS422. Each radio
unit can connect up to 3 terminals in a single location.
Terminal servers are used to provide connectivity in multiples
of 30 terminals at a single location, if required.
- LICENSED FREQUENCY
network is based on licensed frequency. This assures users of a
reliable link that will not be susceptible to the problems of
unlicensed frequency radio equipment. Frequency ranges are both
VHF and UHF: 146-180; 200-230; 335-390 and 400-493 MHz.
Broadband radio versions operate
in ISM bands (2.4 and 5.8GHz) and 10-14GHz.
- EASE OF DEPLOYMENT
MorseŽ wireless solution, due to its use of long range UHF and
non-line-of-sight transmission technology, can easily and
quickly be deployed, even in areas where terrain prohibits the
installation of traditional phone lines. Arrow is therefore
able to deploy networks in the shortest possible time. This
speed of deployment always translates to cost savings to clients
if they do not have to wait for traditional phone lines in areas
where they do not exist or require much more capital to build.
MorseŽ technology transmitting on UHF/VHF frequencies has
minimal line of sight concerns. With the ability to transmit
around major obstructions, installation of the MorseŽ system
requires no tall masts. Short poles have been found sufficient
in most cases, while in some installations internal antennae are
MorseŽ system is deployed in a mesh topology with dispersed
intelligence that allows every site on the network to transmit
in multiple directions, eliminating the need for expensive
central switching equipment. This feature makes the network
self-healing, in that, if there is a problem in transmitting
data in one direction, an alternate direction may be used to
ensure that data packets are delivered. This multiple-direction
transmission configuration enhances the reliability of the
Each radio installation on the network is equipped with up to
24-hour battery life (at full charge) to ensure that the network
survives major electrical power outage. Optional solutions
range up to 72hours backup time.
MorseŽ system, primarily due to its minimal line of sight
requirements, dispersed intelligence and multiple-direction
transmission, is highly effective when used in mobile
applications. This means remote terminals and point-of-sale
terminals may be installed in moving vehicles, or may be
relocated easily from their usual locations by the user. This
facility also makes the MorseŽ technology ideal for fleet
movement tracking and Police mobile security units.
Network security is of prime importance on the MorseŽ network.
Standard methods like encryption/decryption are used to ensure
security on the network. An additional unique and effective
proprietary security feature implemented in the MorseŽ
technology is the use of multiple transmission paths. This
feature takes advantage of the dispersed intelligence and
multiple-direction transmission feature to transmit data packets
in multiple directions to avoid interception. This feature is
user configurable and allows the user to specify different
transmission paths for the transmit and receive packets for each
or specific terminals on the network. A proprietary three-layer
modulation scheme used in transmission also enhances security
and network resilience.
MorseŽ implements a special Radio Link Protocol (RLP) using,
among others, 32-bit CRC for error detection in the data section
of every packet to ensure that every data transfer is
accomplished with zero error.
With modulation rate exceeding 21 kbit per sec for the
narrowband radios, theoretical RF channel throughput is 2 kBytes
per sec. In practical terms this is found much faster than the
regular telephone leased line and hence adequate for the remote
terminal, point-of-sale and telemetry systems the narrowband
network is designed for. Typical narrowband transaction
turn-around time is less than 5 sec irrespective of where a
terminal is located on the network in the country. It must
however be noted that in times of a total network failure
threat, MorseŽ intelligently reduces turn-around time to up to 9
sec to ensure that packets are definitely delivered, thus
optimising the network for high availability to take precedence
over packet delivery speed.
MorseŽ network is highly scalable in terms of the number of user
terminals supported. It can be set up for less than 10
terminals, as well as for hundreds of thousands. The network is
designed in a way that allows additional channels to be added
‘on the fly’ to accommodate additional terminals introduced by
the client without degrading the performance of existing
terminals. Using 32-bit addressing at every node on the
network, its theoretical capacity is estimated as 4 billion user
The MorseŽ network
has the unique advantage of
targeted deployment to ensure that areas desired by clients have
100% coverage without 'dark-spots' or 'no coverage areas'.
Network deployment is flexible enough to follow client needs to
ensure that every installed terminal has connectivity at
MORSEŽ TECHNOLOGY – AREAS OF APPLICATION
It is based on licensed wireless frequency so your network is
protected from unlicensed amateur transmissions and users.
Using Narrowband wireless technology, a MorseŽ network can be
deployed rapidly, per
client needs, in any part of the country.
Coverage area is therefore thorough in the targeted areas of
installation with no 'no coverage areas'.
inherent backup using a meshed topology which translates to high
network availability and resilience, 99% uptime
MorseŽ provides coverage over wide geographical areas that are
difficult or expensive to cater for using other technologies.
MorseŽ provides in-built security mechanisms to protect user
data from interception.
MorseŽ uses dispersed intelligence and so avoids the use of
expensive central switches.
MorseŽ provides support for mobile data networks as a
standard. You can therefore have mobile ATMs and
Using 32-bit addressing, a MorseŽ network can support up to
4billion terminals on a network.
MorseŽ uses in-built battery backup that can operate up to
24hours without regular electricity.
MorseŽ provides three serial ports as well as an Ethernet IP port at each location.
Narrowband requires minimal line of sight for operation, thus
eliminating the need for masts.
a bandwidth range of 22kbps – 108mbps over the product ranges,
you can upscale your bandwidth demand over time. (High
radios require line of sight though).
Supports on-line banking, ATMs, point-of-sale terminals,
remote data processing and gathering, etc
Network Design for A hypothetical Bank In Zambia
Objective: The specific objective for this design is to
create a nation-wide network with 99.9% reliability and
availability and provide 19.2kpbs data
rate to support on-line banking and 24-hour ATM access .
Note: Link speeds may
be increased up to 200kbps on Narrowband Radios and up to
100mbps on Broadband Radios.
The overall design concept creates a network that can have each branch
terminal and ATM connected to the central Host system at the
Data Center (or Disaster Recovery Site) over a dedicated wireless
link as if the links were created with copper leased lines.
It enables the Bank to offer on-line banking at all remote
branches, as well as on-line and 24-hour Auto Teller Machine
access for its customers throughout the country. The advantage
of using wireless technology to create the dedicated links
is that we can easily create alternate transmission paths
to the same terminal or Data Center to maximize the resilience
of the network.
The overall network design as presented in Figure 1 shows how traffic
in each city or town shall be aggregated in a sub base station
in the city or town. This shall then be transmitted to the
central Host at the Data Center (or Disaster Recovery Site).
Into every sub-base station in each town or city are the multiple sub-connections
within the town or city. These could be other Branches, ATMs
or hundreds of small packet point-of-sale terminals for credit/debit
card applications. (The sub-connections within each city
are not shown on the diagram in Figure 1). The sub-connections
within each city connect to one another, and the sub-base
stations in the cities and towns also connect to one another.
The network so created therefore has meshed connections, which
then create alternate transmission paths for each node on
the network. Additionally, each location has its own processing
capabilities. The network therefore has dispersed intelligence
that enables it to become self-healing, i.e. whenever any
portion of the network has connection problems, the overall
network is able to recover by isolating the problem spots
and using only good spots while waiting for maintenance.
The combined intelligence of the network sometimes decides
to reduce throughput of the network under such circumstance
to ensure maximum availability.
Figure 2 shows the detailed connection between the Morse radio and
a terminal at each site. Each terminal can be connected to
the radio via IP over Ethernet or synchronous/asynchronous
serial connection (using RS232, RS422 or RS485).
Note that (as shown in Figures 1 and 2), each Bank location can have
as many terminals as desired to be connected either through
Ethernet connections or through multiple serial port terminal
servers to be provided by Arrow. If the serial port terminal
server is used, each server can connect upto 30 (thirty) serial
terminals. These servers can be cascaded to provide additional
ports in multiples of 30. Using 32-bit addressing in each
radio on the network, the theoretical number of nodes on the
network is 4 (four) billion.
1 – Overall System Design
system schematic shows the aggregation of Bank Branches and
ATMs in each city or town into a sub base station. These are
then connected to the Data Center’s Central Host computer
via Ethernet IP. [Note that upon implementation every network
point of presence, i.e. every city or town shown in the diagram,
will have a transmission base station that can host hundreds
of 9.6kbps connections. This facility can be used to create
a huge point-of-sale network for credit/debit card applications,
with presence in practically every corner of the country –
in most African countries with very low penetration of telephone
lines, this is an excellent solution for the deployment of
point-of-sale terminals as well as low cost Internet access
links in every part of the country at very competitive costs.
Note: Link speeds may be increased up to 200kbps on
Narrowband Radios and up to 100mbps on Broadband Radios.
2 – Typical Bank Location and Mobile/Temporary Branch or ATM
Note: Link speeds may
be increased up to 200kbps on Narrowband Radios and up to
100mbps on Broadband Radios.
This figure shows the actual connection established
at each Bank site on the network. Each Morse MR25 radio can
link upto 3 terminals at each location. If more than 3 terminals
are to be connected at a location, this can be achieved either
through the use of Ethernet connections or a serial terminal
server (the MCM Router) provided by Arrow may be used to connect
upto 30 terminals per server. Several servers can be cascaded
to increase the terminals or serial ports in multiples of
30. Note that mobile or temporary remote Branch or ATM installations
can easily be accommodated in a Morse network due to its dispersed
intelligence and multiple-direction transmission. Each radio
unit has one Ethernet port for IP connections, and three V.24
ports which may be configured for RS232, RS422 or RS485.
The Morse MR25 comes standard with batteries that can operate
for upto 24 hours without regular electricity.
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