BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.
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86 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | MAY/JUNE 2015 TECHNOLOGY Comparing Wired And Wireless Broadband Wireless broadband isn't a complete solution for rural areas but a complement to wireline. The technical limitations of wireless make it an inadequate solution today and prevent it from scaling to meet tomorrow's needs. By Larry Tompson, Brian Enga, Brian Bell and Warren Vande Stadt / Vantage Point Solutions H igh‐quality broadband has become an essential service in urban and rural areas of the United States. According to the FCC, urban and rural users adopt broadband at the same rates where it is available. Education, health care, banking, entertainment and many other industries rely on broadband to deliver their services. As new applications and services are developed, residential and commercial consumers continue to increase their bandwidth demand rapidly. Broadband providers use a variety of networks based on landline or wireless technologies. Broadband provided over wireless networks unquestionably plays an important role in the lives of consumers today. Many consumers rely on the broadband available on their mobile devices for access to social networks, news, small-screen video and many other applications. Another use of wireless technology is terrestrial fxed wireless, which some believe could be a lower-cost alternative to wireline broadband. Fixed and mobile wireless networks share many network elements and therefore share many characteristics. Some characteristics of wireless networks limit their utility when used for general‐purpose broadband delivery. A high‐quality broadband connection has • High speed – Te network must deliver data at a fast rate. • Low latency – Te network must have a minimal amount of delay. • High capacity – Te network must deliver a quantity of data that meets customers' needs. • High reliability – Te network needs to experience few outages. • Scalability – Te network must be cost- efective to deploy, maintain, and upgrade as broadband demand increases. Several factors that limit a wireless network's broadband quality do not impact wireline broadband networks. Lack of spectrum limits both speed and capacity. Weather and obstacles such as terrain attenuate wireless signals, limiting availability and reducing reliability. Finally, the speed of a wireless network is a function of the number of users and the proximity of those users to the wireless tower. Tese factors keep wireless technologies from being economically scalable to higher broadband speeds. SPECTRUM IS LIMITED Spectrum is a limited resource and expensive for a wireless carrier to secure. Only a small portion of the available spectrum is available for commercial broadband communications, as depicted in Figure 1. Te limited amount of available spectrum signifcantly constrains the amount of broadband that can be provided, particularly when spectrum is used for the