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Wireless Wonders

Light Reading

It’s all very well having lots of capacity in carrier networks, but how can service providers make money out of it?

Well, connecting customers to it might help. But right now, that can be tricky. It’s often uneconomical to lay fiber to a building, and the other terrestrial options -- DSL (digital subscriber line) and cable modems –- don't deliver equivalent bandwidth and are still non-starters in a lot of locations.

Under the circumstances, broadband wireless might turn out to be the best solution. It can prove cheaper and faster to install than fiber, and it can deliver high bandwidths -– as much as 10 Gbit/s in exceptional cases.

Like everything else, though, broadband wireless has its snags. Some of the technologies sound great on paper but have yet to be proved in practice. Some are prone to interruptions in transmission from rain, fog, birds, UFOs, and/or swaying buildings. Then there’s a host of other gotchas like needing a line of sight between buildings, licensing requirements, manufacturing challenges, the absence of standards...

Confused? Get a grip by following Light Reading’s guide to broadband wireless developments on the following pages. We've laid out a separate page for each of the main technologies, which are hyperlinked below:

Optical Wireless
Unlicensed Bands
Each page describes the technology, gives its main pros and cons, and then lists vendors offering or developing equipment in this field.

The bottom line? “Wireless is an alternative to fiber, but it isn’t a perfect solution,” says Tony Carmona, an analyst with IGI Group Inc., a consultancy preparing a report on the potential market. That market is in for quite a boom. Broadband wireless subscriber revenues will reach around $17 billion in 2005, up from $807 million this year, according to the report.

Another good reason to get up to speed on what promises to be an important access technology.

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