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Issue of February 2007

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Wireless & Mobile enablement

The wireless port of Pipavav

Jaspal Bakshi

Gujarat Port of Pipavav (GPPL) is located in Saurashtra and operated by APM Terminals. Being a relatively new port, its requirement included applications without bottlenecks. One of the major objective of the deployment was to enable Wi-Fi hot-spots within the port campus using MIMO (Multiple Input-Multiple Output) technology. The bandwidth deployed is 10 Gbps uplink cable to avoid possible bottlenecks.

The Wire-Free Choice

The adoption of MIMO Wi-Fi was mainly due to unsatisfactory performance of PCMCIA cards. It was also to enable the single mode fibre-based backbone to cover geographically vast multiple remote locations with high bandwidth. This included implementation of voice over fibre using IP-PBX solutions to converge internal video conferencing and voice on the same data network.

Initial days

Prior to the implementation there was no wireless network at the port. Jaspal Bakshi, GPPL’s President, IT, led the initiative to streamline various critical business processes and build an IT infrastructure with a 24x7 redundant backbone. The deployment was rolled out with GEO Integrators as the system integrators and D-Link as consultants.

The network was scalable to complement convergence with all the possible IT and business support requirements. The initial equipment included D-Link’s DWL-120 11 Mbps, DWL-650+ 22 Mbps, DWL-630G 54 Mbps and DWL-650G+ 108 Mbps Wi-Fi cards.

Transition time

This equipment was shifted over to D-Link’s DWL-2100AP (access point), 2.4 GHz 802.11g high speed 108 Mbps access point with DWL-650M, and 108 Mbps 802.11g MIMO wireless card bus adapters with HDF-400 extension cable with Nplug to Njack.

It was also observed that the coverage of the MIMO Wireless Card was six to eight times better than the normal Wi-Fi-enabled devices if used with a MIMO router and access point. Hence, to further improve the performance, MIMO routers or access points was deployed.

For better signal reception and smooth data flow, ANT-24-1500 omni-directional antenna was deployed that that coverd an approximate radius of 10 km. The deployment included electrical safety equipments such as surge arrestors and protectors.

GPPL opted for 10 Gbps network speed with 1 Gbps redundancy at the jetty due to dense network traffic there. Users at the jetty are presently using an ERP package called TOS for yard management and vessel planning. MIMO also contributed to run bandwidth-intensive applications such as ERP and video conferencing. The user traffic pertaining to ERP is carried by the 10 Gigabit uplink from the jetty to the fibre backbone. Intranet users were converged on the same uplink.

  • They have moved on from point to point, to point to multipoint technology
  • The range of connectivity has been increased to three to four kilometres.
  • To transfer data as well as voice, they have started using VOIP.
  • They have started using ERP for handling cargo containers.
  • Overall the company is satisfied with the performance of Wi-Fi using MIMO

Phased deployment

The project was carried out in two phases. The first phase included fibre network design and cabling followed by the deployment of X-Stack high-end switches with redundancy at switch and fibre level. The 10 Gig uplink cable was pulled from the new IT set-up up to the jetty. This in turn was connected to the GPPL server farm.

The second phase included actual Wi-Fi MIMO technology-based deployment and installation. To wirelessly connect from various remote locations, bridging was also deployed which added better signal reception across the port premises.

Civil work was carried out by GPPL, while the installation and commissioning of the entire network deployment was carried out by a team of professional from GEO Integrators. Testing with quality assurance and control were jointly conducted by an internal IT team of Port Pipavav and a team from GEO Integrators.

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Indian Express - Business Publications Division

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