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Fixed Wireless Access Complements Fiber Optic Bandwidths up to 10 Gbps and fast installation with microwave fixed wireless.
By: John Shepler
You need large amounts of rock solid bandwidth to enable your business systems, including telephone, conferencing and business process software in the cloud. Normally, that says fiber optic connectivity. But what if that fiber gets cut (it happens) or just can’t be installed soon enough or the construction is just too expensive? Then what? If you happen to be located in the right areas, fixed wireless can be your best solution.
What is Fixed Wireless?
Cell phones have brought mobility to all of us, including having both a phone and a small computer in our pockets. This is wireless mobility. Each device has a modem and radio that communicates with the nearest cell tower. As you move, the session keeps getting handed off to the next towers as you get closer to them. All of this is imperceptible to you, the user. The complexities of handling mobile signals is hidden in the cellular network.
Perhaps you’ve tethered your phone to your PC to keep working when your cable or landline Internet service was interrupted. That’s an example of fixed wireless. It’s the same as mobile wireless, but you’re not moving.
Cellular Fixed Wireless
Ideally, you’d like to tether your entire network to your phone during an outage rather than just one PC. Some phones allow this by acting as WiFI hotspots. In a small business, you may find this work-around to be just fine for short periods of time. Not being able to walk away with your phone can be a real inconvenience. Running out of minutes and getting cut off or big overage charges can be an even bigger inconvenience.
Fortunately, there are fixed cellular services designed for exactly this use. The box you receive looks something like a Wi-Fi router. It has better antennas than your phone, an Ethernet jack to feed your network, and, perhaps, built in WiFi routing. Some have provisions for mounting an antenna outside in weak signal areas.
Best of all, fixed cellular wireless services for business know that you can’t get by with a few Gigabytes a month. You can order 100 GB and more, even unlimited (within reason) usage. Services include 4G LTE and, now, 5G to give you the speed you need to run your business.
Microwave Fixed Wireless
The big brother to cellular is point to point microwave fixed wireless. This is a modern version of the old telco point to point microwave relay. You get a small dish or other microwave antenna that attaches to the side of your building or sits on the roof. It points directly at the provider’s antenna at their central location. This is a line of sight service and generally limited to metropolitan areas.
A major advantages of this type of service is that it is private and dedicated to business use. You won’t be competing with everybody else’s cell phones for bandwidth. The bandwidths can be as high as 1 Gbps or even 10 Gbps. They can also be symmetrical, unlike cellular. With many services your upload and download speeds are the same and your bandwidth is guaranteed. Usage limits? Not usually an issue.
You might even think of microwave fixed wireless as fiber optic without the fiber. Ditching the physical fiber means fewer construction headaches and delays. It is possible that you can have service installed in as little as a few days compared with weeks or months if your building isn’t already lit for fiber.
An unexpected benefit is that fixed wireless can have lower latencies than fiber services with the same bandwidth. That’s because the wireless signal is a direct beam from provider to you. Fiber systems tend to weave all over town with lots of switching gear in the path. Lower latency is critical to some businesses, especially in financial trading. It’s a boon for improving the quality of VoIP phone calls and video conferencing, and for interactive processes running in the cloud.
Cellular broadband uses the Internet and whatever latencies and congestion exist. Fixed Wireless can avoid the Internet and its limitations, or be connected to the Internet so that you can easily connect to customers and suppliers.
Why Not The Best of Both Fiber and Wireless?
Perhaps the best arrangement for your business is a combination of fiber optic service and fixed wireless service. Why both? One reason is to get service started fast with fixed wireless and then add fiber when you can get it installed.
Once you have both running, consider keeping your fixed wireless as a backup to the fiber. Fiber interruptions, often caused by the cable being cut during unrelated construction work, can take days to repair, leaving you high and dry. With automatic failover installed, your traffic will simply move to the wireless link without interruption. When the fiber comes back online, the system will switch back.
Note that fixed wireless offers a true diversity path to fiber. That means fiber and wireless are very unlikely to exhibit failures at the same time. Some businesses think they have this in place by ordering redundant fiber lines or even fiber services from two separate providers. What they don’t realize is that all the fiber serving their location runs in the same bundle or conduit and can all be taken out at the same time by one accident.
Do you need fast installation of high speed business connectivity and/or a robust backup to the fiber you already have? Consider microwave fixed wireless service for your bandwidth needs.
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