Definition Edit

A fixed wireless service is a local wireless operation providing services such as local and long distance telephone, high-speed internet, and digital television to residential and business customers by means of a wireless device at a fixed location such as a home or office.

Overview Edit

In a fixed wireless system that provides high-speed services to consumers, a provider generally attaches to a customer’s premises a radio transmitter/receiver (transceiver) that communicates with the provider’s central antenna site. The central antenna site then acts as the gateway into the public switched telephone network or the Internet for these transceivers. The radio signals that travel over this network architecture serve as a substitute for the copper wire or cable strand that connects customers to the network in traditional, wired technologies.

Providers of fixed wireless services typically can deploy their networks much more quickly and with substantially less expense than is required to build a network capable of supporting either cable-modem or DSL service.

First, wireless networks are free of the substantial costs associated with installing and maintaining wires that run to a customer’s premises.[1] These savings make wireless technology especially well suited to deployment in many rural areas, where substantial distances between customers may be cost-prohibitive for wireline technologies. Wireless technologies may also serve as an economic alternative in urban areas where consumers are not otherwise served by certain forms of wireline technologies. For example, only a small percentage of multi-tenant office buildings are currently served by fiber networks. Thus, fixed wireless services may make high-speed access more affordable for those small and medium-sized businesses for which direct fiber connections remain too expensive.

Second, the relative ease of installation of this technology allows wireless providers to deploy their networks much more quickly than is possible for providers that must actually install wires leading to each customer’s premises. This permits wireless providers to respond rapidly and dynamically to developing demand for advanced telecommunications capability.

Third, the architecture of a wireless network allows providers to roll out their facilities in a manner more closely related to the product demand they encounter. A traditional wired provider often will install the network infrastructure in an entire area before it begins to market its service in that area. Thus, a cable provider will upgrade its cable plant throughout a neighborhood when it begins to offer advanced telecommunications service to the neighborhood’s residents even if initial subscription rates are low. Similarly, a DSL provider likely will make certain network investments in an area where it intends to offer service before it signs up its first customer. By contrast, once a wireless provider has installed its antenna in an area, it completes the last-mile connection by installing an on-premises transceiver only for those customers who have actually subscribed to its service. This incremental build-out process allows wireless providers to avoid much of the up-front investment that traditional wired advanced telecommunications capability providers must make.

Fixed wireless devices usually derive their electrical power from the power grid, unlike mobile wireless or portable wireless which tend to be battery-powered. Although mobile and portable systems can be used in fixed locations, efficiency and bandwidth are compromised compared with fixed systems.

Fixed wireless services have taken on new importance as a "backhaul" link for 4G.

References Edit

  1. Implementation of Section 6002(b)of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, Annual Report and Analysis of Competitive Market Conditions with Respect to Commercial Mobile Services, Fourth Report, 14 FCC Rcd 10145, 10267 (1999) (Fourth Report).