Currently, Indian fishermen use handheld radios or satellite phones for offshore communication. While the former is based on broadcast communication with its range limited by Line-of-Sight, the latter is expensive. Therefore, lack of connectivity-at-sea is a huge problem for many Indian fishermen. Hence, this work prescribes a hierarchical point-to-multi-point backhaul network using long range (LR) Wi-Fi technology. It is a multi-hop network consisting of base stations and clusters of boats.
Each boat-cluster forms a wireless mesh access network. A field-trial was conducted at sea to measure and analyze the coverage and connectivity of the P2mP LR Wi-Fi backhaul network, using commercially available 5 GHz base stations, antennas and customer premises equipment (CPE). Several parameters such as transmission power level, mechanical antenna tilt at the base station and channel bandwidth were fine-tuned to maximize the range. This paper discusses the observations and the results obtained.