Wireless Technologies are Complementary, Not a Replacement for Wireline Broadband Study Reveals

by Istvan Fekete on March 18, 2015

Wireless technologies are a complement rather than a replacement for wireline broadband, according to a new study signed by the NTCA and Vantage Point Solutions.

In a study entitled “Wireless Broadband Not a Viable Substitute for Wireline Broadband” and filed with the FCC, Vantage Point examines various broadband delivery networks just to find that there are a number of factors, such as a lack of spectrum, weather, and terrain, which impose limitations on a wireless network’s broadband quality. The same factors, on the other hand, don’t seem to affect wireline-based broadband networks.

The lack of spectrum limits both speed and capacity, and weather and obstacles such as terrain attenuate the wireless signal, limiting its availability and reducing reliability. Finally, the speed of the networks depends on the number of users and the proximity of those users to the wireless tower.

“While wireless networks are needed for low bit rate mobile applications, such as voice, email and small screen video, wireline networks are required to meet customers’ high-speed, fixed broadband needs,” said Larry Thompson, P.E., Vantage Point Solutions’ chief executive officer and the report’s chief author. “Even fixed wireless solutions that offer near-term promise for reaching consumers face the prospect of being unable to keep up with consumer demand over the longer term. With the rapid increases in broadband demand, it is important and most efficient to invest in networks and technologies that can not only deliver the broadband required today, but also deliver the broadband of tomorrow without major upgrade expenditures.”

As the study points out, the largest wireless carriers – despite having the financial resources – hold less than 130 MHz of spectrum in most market areas. Let’s take Verizon as an example: The carrier has, on average, 116 MHz of spectrum nationwide, but even with this amount of spectrum it needs to meet the following conditions to deliver 100 Mbps speeds, the broadband speed of the future: It would need to (1) dedicate its entire spectrum to broadband, so existing customers – mobile subscribes included – could not use this spectrum, (2) rely on technologies that are not yet available to bond all their bands together (3) construct new towers, because it would only take a few customers to exhaust an entire tower’s available capacity.

While these terms are unrealistic, since exiting wireless customers could not simply be abandoned just for the sake of high-speed broadband, what the study aims to highlight is that the cost of deploying a wireless network is rising as broadband requirements increase.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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