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Reality Check: Fixed wireless myth busting

New Yorkers, rejoice! According to an article in Crain’s New York Business, about 90% of commercial buildings are not wired with enterprise-class broadband, and “a technology known as fixed wireless broadband” is coming to their speedy-connectivity-deprived rescue. Reading this piece brought to light that there are still a lot of old fixed wireless myths floating around out there, and that dispelling them not only underscores the utility of fixed wireless, but why it’s the more economically viable option for proliferating high-quality Internet connectivity:

5 myths of fixed wireless

  1. Fixed wireless is useful for rural deployments, but not urban: If fixed wireless fits the bill for the Big Apple, then clearly it has gone far beyond rural into the most urban of urban environments. Perhaps most importantly for city dwellers, fixed wireless is significantly less disruptive to foot and street traffic than wireline technology. Installing a fiber network involves trenching, the costly practice of digging up sidewalks and roads to lay new fiber optic cables. Fixed wireless, on the other hand, simply takes bringing source broadband from awireline network to a new building or area with a point-to-point link. This process can take as little as a few hours. As anyone who has ever moved houses and needed to set up a new fiber Internet account knows, getting a new connection in a few hours is a dream.Another common usage of fixed wireless connectivity in cities is in distributed antenna systems, which actually marries the technology with Wi-Fi, microcells, cell towers and fiber. A DAS network ensured that every San Francisco Giants fan in AT&T Park could upload selfies and video from the World Series, for example.
  1. Fixed wireless is less reliable than wireline: Naval officers and high-frequency traders alike rely on fixed wireless for their mission-critical data transactions and transmissions, so clearly it is no runner-up to wireline in terms of reliability. As fixed wireless networks are significantly more cost-effective to install and maintain, it follows that fixed wireless network operators can allocate additional funds normally earmarked for operational expenditures toward capital expenditures.
  1. Fixed wireless is slower: It was perhaps this line in the Crain’s article that caught my attention the most: “Proponents say fixed wireless can give customers the same speeds as fiber without the cost and hassle of tearing up the street (once the connection to the building is made, customers can’t tell the difference).” All true. Fixed wireless can be rapidly installed to extend the reach of a fiber network core. This means that customers served by fixed wireless can enjoy the same bandwidth-intensive services as their wireline counterparts – and in a fraction of the time and at a much lower cost.
  1. You need a “straight shot” with fixed wireless: Long gone are the days when line-of-sight was an imperative for fixed wireless installations. Buildings, trees, mountains and water are no match for the technological strides made in ensuring that communities can count on the connectivity fixed wireless broadband equipment provides. This capability ensures additional cost savings for fixed wireless network operators, who don’t need to cut down trees or otherwise remove obstructions to set up a high-quality network.
  1. Fixed wireless antennas malfunction/are blown off rooftops in bad weather: If this were true, there’d be a lot more antennas on the ground, and New Yorkers would have to add helmets to their winter wardrobes. Of course, they don’t have to because this is yet another fixed wireless myth. Ensuring that outdoor equipment works well in inclement weather is an industry imperative that equates to fewer instances of sending repair crews out, and again money saved.

With these myths put to rest, fixed wireless deployments should be considered where it makes physical and economic sense, which is pretty much anywhere. As more people get online, hybrid networks that use a blend of technologies including fixed wireless will ensure that quality of service remains high and affordable.

Editor’s Note: In our weekly Reality Check column where C-level executives and advisory firms from across the mobile industry share unique insights and experiences.

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Subject to editorial review and copy edit, RCR Wireless News accepts bylined thought leadership articles, up to 1000 words, from industry executives. Submitted articles become property of RCR Wireless News. Submit articles to engageRCR@rcrwireless.com with "Reality Check" in subject line.

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