Science fiction has long promised us a world without wires. A look under your desk will probably remind you we aren’t there yet. While wireless networks are constantly improving, a wired fiber to the home connection is still considered the gold standard of broadband connectivity. Does that mean building out wireless infrastructure today is pointless? Not at all! Let’s look at why that is.
One major consideration is deployment speed. Providing physical fiber connections to each home in a community is a lengthy and labor intensive process. Even just obtaining the required permits and approvals to begin can be rigorous. Nearly any community-sized fiber project is going to take years of work before everyone is connected. On the other hand, a wireless network can often be deployed in a much shorter period of time as individual physical connections to each home are not necessary. This is especially true if existing infrastructure, such as communications towers, can be utilized in the community.
Wireless infrastructure has come a long way. Existing wireless systems are capable of exceeding current FCC Broadband standards (25/3 Mbps download/upload). Advanced products like the Tarana G1 next generation fixed wireless access point are future-proofed to exceed expected increases to those standards (beyond 100/20 Mbps download/upload). This level of performance exceeds what some wired Internet Service Providers currently offer. In addition to speed considerations, the new hardware features more robust broadcasting that allows signals from the tower base nodes to reach further while being less susceptible to interference and signal loss from environmental clutter.
Even if the long-term goal is to deploy a robust fiber network, existing wireless installations can serve as a backup network in case of line failure or for additional throughput. There are also instances where it may not be possible to run fiber due to environment or terrain, impractical costs, or even regulatory restrictions. A mixed approach of fiber and wireless can make sure customers have options in the largest service area possible. Additionally, unused tower space may be rented out to national carriers to generate revenue for the community and improve local network coverage. Even if it is no longer used for public access, wireless infrastructure can be repurposed for use by local government communications and services. In many ways, wireless can continue to provide a return on investment for years to come.
Wireless infrastructure carries a number of advantages, however, there are still some inherent limitations that might not make it well suited to your community. The need to maintain line-of-sight between towers makes wireless applications in areas of uneven terrain problematic. Signal interference is another consideration that is often location dependent. The good news is, EnerTribe performs a full evaluation of your specific environment and will work with you to ensure the best possible solution to meet your infrastructure needs be it wired, wireless, or both.
Back to the Future
While a fully wired community might be the ultimate end-goal for many at the moment, don’t overlook wireless. It allows you to take advantage of available funding now and often brings a faster deployment which can pay dividends both now and in the future. Wireless development is hardly standing still either. With 6GHz for outdoor use and WiFi 7 on the horizon, increased speeds are on the way. In a few more generations we might start closing that gap between science fiction and a truly wirefree future.