Wireless Innovation for Last Mile Access: An Analysis of Cases and Business Strategies
91 Pages Posted: 31 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 30, 2016
This working paper explores wireless broadband as an alternative means for broadband expansion through a case-based analysis of business strategies. Although wireless cannot provide the capacity available from advanced fiber networks, it has many other advantages. First, and perhaps foremost, wireless alternatives may be the only economically feasible means of broadband expansion to certain parts of the country. Although they cannot provide capacity that is measurable in terabits per second, as fiber networks can, wireless technologies — depending on the frequencies used and other factors — can suffice for many modern applications: information acquisition for job search, health, and other needs; distance learning; and even video streaming. Second, wireless broadband can permit mobility, something that wireline networks are not designed to provide. Third, the performance of last mile wireless links is partly dependent on the backhaul capacity to which it is connected. So, as fiber extends closer to end users, it enhances the speed and reliability of the wireless connections it supports. Finally, wireless networks can be deployed more rapidly than wireline networks, so that even if there are plans for higher capacity, wireline deployment in the future, wireless can meet more urgent needs. In this report we examine a dozen cases that provide real world evidence and strategic insight related to both the advantages and challenges involved in deploying wireless in scenarios spanning a range of densities and topographies, spectrum, applications and the institutions and stakeholders involved in and impacted by the network deployments.
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