Wireless broadband access can be either fixed (transmission to a stationary point from a stationary point) or mobile (transmission to or from a device on the move). Consumer and business-level fixed wireless broadband is generally provided by companies known as Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs). WISPs employ networks of radios that transmit and receive broadband signals of up to 40 Mbps. Some of these radios will be placed on single purpose towers and other high structures (e.g., water towers, buildings, etc.) and some on homes or businesses.
Fixed wireless technology may include commonplace Wi-Fi wireless mesh networking techniques, or proprietary equipment designed to operate over open 900MHz, 2.4GHz, 4.9, 5.2, 5.4, 5.7, and 5.8GHz bands or licensed frequencies in the ultra-high frequency (UHF) or wireless cable MMDS bands. A single radio in the network can serve multiple end users depending on the volume of traffic experienced (bandwidth used) and the provider’s oversell ratios. Oversell ratios (a strategy employed in nearly all broadband technologies) simply recognizes the fact that not all users are on the network at the same time. Fixed wireless providers often operate in rural areas where DSL or cable broadband is not available. At some point in their networks, the WISP will aggregate traffic and ultimately connect their radio-based facilities with an existing fiber or copper-based network, thereby gaining access to and from the Internet.
In most cases, fixed wireless access is what iss called ‘line of sight,’ meaning that the transmission is dependent on a clear path from the radio on a home to the radio on the tower. Obstructions in this transmission path (e.g., seasonal foliage) can interrupt service. Fixed Wireless technologies are one of the most rapidly evolving of broadband technologies, with equipment providers announcing increased speed and reception capabilities on a regular basis. When evaluating Fixed Wireless, it is important to speak with your local provider to understand the capabilities of their current equipment and their plans for upgrading.