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5G Fixed Wireless Internet and Satellite Internet

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(Jungfrau, Switzerland - Alvin Wei-Cheng Wong)

 

 

4G and 5G Fixed Wireless Access Unlocks A World Of Opportunity

 

Fixed Wireless Internet

 

More than 1 billion homes worldwide still find themselves without a regular broadband connection. Fixed Wireless Access, or FWA, is an established means of providing Internet access to homes using wireless mobile network technology rather than fixed lines. For example, current A&T Fixed Wireless Internet delivers high-speed Internet service to eligible rural households and small businesses via an outdoor antenna and indoor Wi-Fi Gateway router.

Fixed wireless Internet is different from more common connections like xDSL and fiber. Instead of using a cable, it brings the Internet signal to your home via radio waves transmitted by a base station. When you opt for fixed wireless Internet, your provider will install a receiver on your house. It will communicate with the nearest wireless base station and offer you access to the web via a cable carrying the broadband signal from the receiver to the router in your house. 

Fixed wireless Internet is mainly used in rural areas where setting up the infrastructure for broadband services like DSL is prohibitively expensive. Transporting and burying cables in the ground and getting the necessary permits can be expensive. So it doesn’t make financial sense for service providers to go down this road in less populated areas, where they can’t get enough subscribers on board to justify the total costs. 

The problem with fixed wireless Internet is that the connection isn’t always stable. Rain, fog, and other weather conditions can affect its strength. There also has to be a line of sight between the receiver on your house and the wireless base station. Obstructions such as trees and hills can affect the quality of the service and can even prevent it from being set up.

With the growing infrastructure of wireless networks, and improving speed and reliability, fixed wireless has also become a viable solution for broadband access. Businesses and homes can use fixed-wireless antenna technology to access broadband Internet and Layer 2 networks using fixed wireless broadband. Networks which have redundancy and saturation and antennas that can aggregate signal from multiple carriers are able to offer fail-over and redundancy for connectivity not generally afforded by wired connections. In rural areas where wired infrastructure is not yet available, fixed-wireless broadband can be a viable option for Internet access.

 

Satellite Internet

 

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(How Data Moves Through A Satellite Network - GroundControl)

Satellite Internet is another option for those living in areas where fixed broadband services are not available. Although it also requires a dish and provides you with high-speed Internet access without using a phone or cable line, satellite is different from fixed wireless in many ways.

Satellite Internet is the ability to transmit and receive data from a relatively small satellite dish on Earth and communicate with an orbiting geostationary satellite 22,300 miles above Earth's equator. The orbiting satellite transmits (and receives) its information to a location on Earth called the Network Operations Center or NOC (pronounced "knock"). The NOC itself is connected to the Internet (or private network), so all communication made from a satellite dish to the orbiting satellite will flow through the NOC before it reached the Internet.

Satellite Internet is a wireless connection that involves 3 satellite dishes; one at the Internet service providers (ISP or NOC) hub, one in space and one attached to your property. In addition to the satellite dish you also need a modem and cables running to and from the dish to your modem. Once you have everything connected, the ISP will send the Internet signal to the dish in space which then relays it to you. Every time you make a request (new page, download, send an email, etc) it goes to the dish in space and then to the (ISP’s) hub. The completed request is then sent back through space, to your dish and then to your computer.

Weather conditions affect satellite Internet more than they do fixed wireless. The signal has to travel through the entire atmosphere and back. That means a storm can cause problems. A base station used for fixed wireless Internet is about as tall as an average cell phone tower. It’s usually located within 10 miles of your house, so the clouds above it and the storm that’s miles away won’t interfere with the signal it’s transmitting. In addition. Because the satellite is positioned much farther from the receiver on your house than the wireless base station, satellite Internet suffers from high latency. This can make even a high-speed connection sluggish and has a big impact on things like online gaming and streaming video.

 

5G Internet vs Satellite Internet for Rural Customers

 
Satellite Internet needs to transmit its signal into space before it gets to your device, which isn't known for its speed - but it works everywhere. 5G home internet is also wireless and it's extremely fast—but it's too soon to tell if it'll become the rural solution many are hoping for. 

Even though 5G home Internet is wireless, that doesn't mean that it'll become the end all be all solution for rural customers because cities will still need to figure out how to install the small cell towers (which are connected to a wired source). 

5G Internet, like satellite, is wireless - but unlike satellite - it's not completely wireless. Here's the deal: from the cell tower to your home router and WiFi modem, 5G Internet is wireless. However, the cell towers themselves need to be hooked up to a fiber Internet source. Not only that, but since 5G cell towers don't commonly have a long range, cities and towns will need to install many of these cell towers to service the whole area. 

The small cell towers used by Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint have a very short range - but this is where T-Mobile's choice to adopt a different wave-type for their technology might shine. It's not as fast as the other guys, but its range is much larger. But until T-Mobile's 5G home Internet comes out in the coming years, we won't really know if it'll truly slice through the digital divide as we're hoping it might. 

 

 

[More to come ...]



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