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Why Fixed Wireless?

By Kelly Teal
October 20, 2011 - Article

As businesses and organizations expand into new locations, move applications to the cloud and implement disaster recovery safeguards, they need greater network reliability. Fixed wireless broadband is fast becoming one of the primary ways to achieve that goal.

Fixed wireless broadband works the same as DSL or T1 access except that the connection is transmitted over spectrum — some licensed, some license-exempt — and uses base stations to extend connectivity. That means customers must meet a provider’s “line of sight" requirements; if there’s a tree or building in the way, for example, service won’t work well, if at all. Despite that, the advantages of fixed wireless broadband are plentiful:

  • It’s fast — speeds range from 1MBps to 1000MBps (1GBps), depending on the provider.
  • It reaches places that wired options can’t, such as remote areas and buildings lacking fast terrestrial connectivity.
  • It’s easier to scale than most wired services because adding bandwidth means opening the pipes, rather than installing more equipment.
  • It’s quick to provision — days, not weeks — because competitive services providers bypass the ILEC’s local loop and use their own base stations instead.

And while almost any customer can benefit from fixed wireless broadband, certain end-users will get the most out of the service:

  • SMBs that want one scalable connection for voice and data. “This gives SMBs the flexibility they need to optimize their capital," said Josh Schlensker, director of channel sales for Airband Communications.
  • Enterprises that need LAN extensions within office campuses or that need high-bandwidth last-mile access to connect to a metro fiber ring.
  • Organizations using fixed wireless broadband as their primary connections and wired circuits for their backups, or vice versa. This approach provides true path diversity because if there’s a problem such as a major cable cut, a company still has Internet access. “We have many customers that build their business continuity solution with a 3MBps-6MBps fixed wireless as their primary connection and a T1 for failover," said Schlensker.
  • Companies with changing bandwidth requirements. “Hotels are perfect examples," Schlensker said. “During conventions and conferences, bandwidth demands increase significantly. With fixed-wireless service, bandwidth can be turned up very quickly … to meet the demands without a change in network infrastructure."
  • Businesses implementing cloud services. IT directors want bandwidth that can easily scale based on an application’s needs.
  • Facilities in remote areas, malls or airports — “any business that has had stability questions or issues with DSL," said Jonathan Forest, vice president of business development for Accel Networks. “There is a best-in-class wireless option rather than going to a T1."
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