Wireless has always been a complex technology and many security integrators have taken it into account only when everything else failed. Interferences, antenna alignment, line of sight and lightning are some of the issues that you have to face when deploying a wireless system. These tend to scare some people away. Thanks to a new technology development in radio technology called multiple inputs multiple outputs (MIMO), wireless backbone systems have now become a friendlier option for integrators looking for a transmission system that is reliable, cost effective, and easy to deploy.

MIMO technology, which is a form of smart antenna technology (a technology where antenna arrays with smart signal processing algorithms identify spatial signal signatures — such as the direction of arrival of a signal — and then use them to calculate beamforming vectors to track and locate the antenna beam on the mobile/target), has recently revolutionized the world of wireless transmission by offering a serious increase in data throughput and range without additional transmit power or spectrum usage. It requires the transmitter and the receiver to have multiple antenna. The greater performances are achieved by creating signal uncorrelation thanks to the multiple antenna.

In the market at the moment there are 2x2 and 3x3 MIMO systems that translate into a MIMO radio with two or three antenna for receiving and transmitting. The larger the number of antenna, the larger the performance improvement is with respect to a traditional wireless system.

The biggest challenge in using MIMO technology for backhauling applications for video is the antenna. In fact, most MIMO systems mount omni-directional antenna that do not provide a long enough range for most security and industrial applications. In addition, omni-directional antenna have a 360-degree transmission and are therefore much less spectrum efficient than directional antenna. They’re also much more prone to interference problems. Although this might be ok for a wireless network with intermittent traffic such as e-mails and surfing the Web, it is not a viable solution for security and video applications because transmission quality and reliability are mandatory. The other limitation is the visual impact of a MIMO radio once installed because four or six antenna on a lightpole or on the side of a building take quite a bit of space and are not very pretty to look at.

Companies in the security industry are building on MIMO technology and creating products offering specific features designed to address those shortcomings. At Fluidmesh, the company offers a form of MIMO technology called MITO that is designed to eliminate the problems with omni-directional antenna by mounting a 2x2 MIMO radio with two integrated patch antenna with reversed polarity. By doing so, the system can provide all the advantages of a MIMO radio also in long-distance outdoor applications. This approach has allowed MITO-based systems to provide up to 100 Mbps of usable throughput and a range of up to 25 miles in line-of-sight. In addition, thanks to an integrated approach, the form factor has been reduced to a size slightly bigger than two decks of cards, making it much easier to install.
The increase in performance, the compact form factor, and the simplicity of installation provided by advancements like MITO have allowed wireless to take a leap forward in terms of cost, reliability and ease of installation. Integrators can easily take advantage of the benefits that this innovative technology brings to the table without having to worry about complex issues usually present in traditional wireless systems such as grounding, antenna polarization and cable loss. The overall result is that integrators are now turning to wireless more and more, often abandoning the most expensive options such as copper or fiber as an alternative.