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Fiber Planners Inc.
Designers of fiber networks for electric utilities and communities.

News and comments on community broadband networks, the communities deploying them and the technologies that support them. Published by Denise Frey and Al Bonnyman.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2004


Wireless broadband's new standard: WiMAX

My employer, Fiber Planners, continues to evaluate wireless broadband as one of three last-mile broadband access methods to complement the many municipal fiber backbones we've designed for municipal power utilities over the last 10 years. (The other two methods we're studying are fiber to the user and powerline broadband).

Our biggest concerns about wireless broadband has stemmed the complaints about service reliability in areas of heavy foliage that we've heard from several other power utilities that have deployed such systems. Nobody wants to sign up hundreds or thousands of customers, then field complaints 24 hours a day. The customer dissatisfaction can quickly ruin a good reputation for reliability and customer service that may have taken decades to build.

The emerging IEEE 802.16 for wide area wireless broadband holds promise to bring real last-mile wireless access to users in living in areas of heavy foliage. Esme Vos has an overview of the standard and some of the performance milestones recorded. While the real-world performance doesn't quite reach the hyped 70 Mbps, 26 Mbps through dense trees over several kilometers is good enough for us.

Dennis Haarsager's Technology360 Weblog has a link to an article in the Register about Wi-MAX:
"WiMAX approaches tipping point with new specs and carrier support:
The third quarter looks set to be the turning point for WiMAX, seeing the release of a new version of the standard that will significantly boost silicon roll-out. Carrier interest, critical to success, is rising and British Telecom is the latest major telco to say that it will carry out trials, following in the footsteps of AT&T and Nextel. But significant spectrum and interference issues need to be addressed if WiMAX is to reach its full potential."


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