Long Distance WiFi Challenge
About NSTIx OpTech Co-Creation
The National Security Technology and Innovation Exchange (NSTIx) is a government-led science, technology and innovation partnership that enables coherent and agile delivery of innovative national security outcomes through a co-ordinated and systematic approach to research and capability development.
NSTIx has established a government-led network of themed Co-Creation Spaces (CCS). The CCS’ combine the respective power of specialist public and private sector partners in research, capability development and end user requirements. This supports the development of effective, user-driven technology at pace in areas that are critical to national security. For more information, please see the ‘NSTIx Leaflet’ in digital form.
The OpTech Co-Creation Space (OCCS) has engaged with a network of key Community Collaborators, to accelerate and leverage access to their existing networks of industry and academic Solution Providers.
By responding to this Challenge (details provided in ‘UK Solution Provider Proposals – ‘our ask’ section) and participating in Co-Creation there is an exciting opportunity for collaboration between National Security, Community Collaborators and Solution Providers.
The invention of Wi-Fi has clearly had an impact on society with its ubiquity taken for granted. There are ongoing issues for useability in certain niche scenarios. A Wi-Fi router range will vary depending on the environment but could be from just a few metres to tens of metres. To extend this range, extenders and additional Wi-Fi Access Points (AP’s) are typically used. This becomes complex in congested Radio-Frequency (RF) environments like the ones found in dense urban environments in particular at the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz band, resulting in interference and postponing of transmission (Ruirong Chen et al., SenSys 2022) though Wi-Fi 7 goes some way to resolve this.
There is a client-side gap connecting to a Wi-Fi AP from a significant distance away, potentially hundreds of metres, up to a kilometre, particularly in congested RF environments.
National Security personnel who operate globally use internet connected equipment in scenarios where it is not desirable or possible to connect to a third party Wi-Fi AP or cellular provider.
Examples include countries where there are concerns about the privacy and cyber security of third- party Wi-Fi or cellular connections and the only option is to connect to their own secure and trusted Wi-Fi AP. In addition, disaster areas where there is a reduced internet service provided due to local infrastructure damage and the only desired option is to connect to Wi-Fi Aps or cellular base stations that are out of current range.
In these scenarios, it is typical for rapid mobile deployment teams to be on the move and out of current range from any UK estate with a secure WI-FI AP or a working internet connection disaster area. The mobile teams may only remain on location for a matter of hours or days, so it is unlikely they will have capacity to install additional internet infrastructure. It may also not be feasible to alter the Wi-Fi AP they are attempting to connect to, such as increasing power.
This challenge is to address a client-side solution which would give access to a Wi-Fi AP from several hundred meters, up to a kilometre, in dense urban environments with congested RF signals.
We would like to develop a system to receive a Wi-Fi signal from at least several hundred metres, up to a kilometre, in dense urban environments with congested RF signals. This would connect to a client device (i.e. Laptop, tablet, Mobile Phone) to supply a stable Wi-Fi connection.
There can be no alterations to the Wi-Fi AP, conversely there are no operating restrictions on the client-side. Size is of no issue, although consideration should be given to mobile deployment teams who travel in SUV’s or small vans. Power is also of no issue at this stage and will be considered as the solution develops.
We are keen to hear from a spectrum of ideas, from TRL1-9, basic research, feasibility, up to off-the- shelf product development. To help shape this challenge, here is a non-exhaustive list of ideas that you may consider:
- Horizon scanning solutions using expertise and knowledge of commercial offerings.
- Environmental RF modelling.
- RF Interference cancellation to signal boost, which could be AI/ML enabled.
- RF Repeaters.
- Beam Forming.
- Innovative Antennas.
This Challenge is open to sole innovators and to organisations of all types and sizes. This includes UK registered businesses of any size, Universities, and research and technology organisations. Consortiums are encouraged where a sole lead organisation contracts with the Authority & flows the terms, conditions, IP & payments, to the consortium members.
The Authority will evaluate tenders in accordance with the procurement principles of transparency, equal opportunity and non-discrimination & evaluation criteria provided. The Authority reserve the right to make the final decisions as to which proposals are taken forward to apply for funding in the competition.
An agile approach over the 12-week period is preferred, with sprints designed to work with the National Security community to iteratively define the solution. We have an indicative budget of £60k for a single solution provider, budget increases will be considered for consortiums.
Commercial Engagement: The OCCS challenge team will select Solution Providers for this Challenge on the technical and commercial merit of the proposal received, commercial contracts and funding will be engaged through Cranfield University. Intellectual Property deliverables will be engaged with the OCCS under the terms attached.
Pricing: Solution providers are invited to submit Fixed Price proposals for the 12-week engagement. When preparing pricing please provide pricing against 3 monthly payment points in line with the sprint-profile of your project.
Please note that by submitting a proposal in response to this challenge you are agreeing to the terms and conditions of contract as issued and are thereby making a formal offer of contract, from which the Authority shall have the right to accept in part or in full should your proposal be deemed acceptable.
Please send your proposals via the Community Collaborator you found this Challenge, alternatively you can send it directly to email@example.com, but please note where you first heard of this Challenge. Ensure you include the title of the Challenge ‘Long Distance Wifi’ in your submission.
Key dates and timelines
The deadline for proposals to be submitted is close of business.
The OCCS Challenge Team aims to select a shortlist of successful proposals and invited to a pitch day.
An option to attend face to face or online will be made. All applicants will be provided with written feedback via the Community Collaborator once both technical and commercial assessments have been concluded. We will endeavour to provide feedback within 2 weeks of the competition deadline.
Check back here for challenge updates.