Wireless Connections Complement Rather Than Replace Wireline Networks

It’s all I can do these days to keep up with Minnesota broadband news – but I wanted to at least shine a light on this report because the issue of wireless vs wireline comes up a lot. The report was researched by the telecom industry, which has a vested interest in wireless infrastructure but that’s doesn’t negate their key findings (as published in Fierce Telecom)…

The study, “Wireless Broadband Not a Viable Substitute for Wireline Broadband,” was filed today with the FCC by NTCA, the premier national association representing nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies. The report reviews terrestrial wireless technologies’ ability to deliver current and future broadband services. Vantage Point studied various broadband delivery networks and the characteristics of a high‐quality broadband connection and found that there are several factors, including lack of spectrum, weather and terrain, which limit a wireless network’s broadband quality but do not affect wireline broadband networks.

Among the report’s key findings are:

Spectrum: Spectrum is a limited resource and expensive for a wireless carrier to secure. The limited amount of available spectrum can significantly constrain broadband speed. When additional spectrum is not available, a broadband provider must add towers to increase capacity, which increases deployment cost and only underscores the ultimate dependence of wireless services on wireline technologies.

Speed: An important determinant of connection speed is the proximity of the customer to the tower. In rural areas, customers may live longer distances from the closest tower, which frequently are spaced 10 to 20 miles apart. At this distance, service may be extremely slow or nonexistent.

Environmental impacts: Mountains, hills, buildings and trees can interfere with a wireless signal. Rain, fog or snow can also reduce broadband speeds and even cause network outages. All of these factors are common in rural areas.

This entry was posted in Research, Rural, Vendors, Wireless by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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