Tag Archives: broadband

How do you get Broadband to the “Underserved”?

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Broadband is needed everywhere, so much so that even the federal government sees broadband as a utility that is needed by all people. How do you get broadband to the underserved areas?

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In the suburban and country, (remote areas), it is simply a matter of budgets. However, CenturyLink is a company I see serving those areas. They are doing the best they can get wired broadband to that area along with the wireless carriers. I really see Verizon out in some remote areas, deploying LTE too far out areas. This is amazing. Areas that once were thought to be so remote that they can now have your smartphone or laptop connected via LTE signals. WOW!

What about city coverage? They don’t always have the coverage that we think they do, especially in areas where the “payback” is not obvious. This is a recurring theme I hear from cities. The need to make sure that broadband is available in all areas of the city. This seems like a non-negotiable issue. I guess it’s true that broadband is the new utility. As a utility, it assumes that we need it to live or at least live at a quality level of life. Of course, we can all live without electricity or running water, but do we want to? Of course not, not in our daily lives anyway. We want to have broadband as part of our daily lives.

Broadband is more than a luxury or something that’s nice to have. It is the livelihood of so many people, including me, to work efficiently and improve their daily lives. That is what the cities see. They see hundreds of small business taking off, becoming more than just a hobby or a way to play games or even watch TV. Broadband is all of that and more.

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I work and train from home using the internet to do it. I started my side business at home because I have broadband and because work no longer pays for it. I feel no guilt using it for gain and learning new skills, something that if work paid for they might frown upon it. It ain’t free! I pay for it. Work no longer pays for any broadband to the house yet they expect you to have it and work using it. Did you catch that, they expect you to have it. Broadband to the home has become an expectation, not a luxury.

The connection is not free, however. I pay for that, and it is part of my monthly service. I love it and yet I do pay for it and not it’s more important to me than TV on my cable bill. That is a shift in today’s world where cable and the internet would be on the same bill. However, today it’s an expectation.

Back to the smart city saga, they see the need because they want their residents to learn at home, to have the opportunity to work from home, and the bigger opportunity to start their online businesses at home or at least in a nearby office. They see the value is providing value to their residents. They see the success of each person that learns to take advantage of this. They know that broadband is a game changer.

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Now, how do we get the signal to the people? There is always fiber, which is awesome for getting broadband. However, it ain’t cheap, and most companies don’t want to add it to the “underserved” areas of town. You see, the big boys want to see a payback in a timely manner and it may not happen there. The cities are frustrated with this because those are the areas that could benefit the most. It’s a social dilemma because these areas need the opportunities to grow business, but the companies that can make it available to them won’t do it because they don’t see the immediate payback.

Business is business so what many cities are doing is taking the initiative to put broadband in these areas. Since they have fiber in some sections of this part of town, they are starting to rely on Wi-Fi to get the signal to the people. It’s what we used to call Muni Wi-Fi, municipal Wi-Fi where Wi-Fi covers the city, area by area. This way the people can connect for a reasonable price and almost anywhere they are near the hotspot.

For some examples of Muni Wi-Fi, take a look at the FierceWireless article here, http://www.fiercewireless.com/tech/muni-wi-fi-2-0-time-cities-are-getting-smarter about how Wi-Fi is getting better.

To be honest, many of these initiatives have not been overwhelmingly successful. Not always a failure either. Somewhere in between, I would say. However, for the area where they don’t have anything else, it is a game changer for the residents, if they are ready 5g-deployment-plan-front-cover-3k-pixelsfor it. In today’s world, we have every device with Wi-Fi in it, smartphones and laptops and Kindles and iPads. While these are all high-end devices, I really don’t know more than 10 people that don’t have a smartphone. The ones that don’t have smartphones really could care less about the internet, so let’s not talk about them.

Let’s speak of the thousands of people that not only have it but rely on Wi-Fi to offload their smartphone data. Many times Wi-Fi works better than the carrier’s system unless you have a great LTE connection. While new formats are coming out in 2018, Wi-fi is already here and in almost every device. It can really help these areas if you educate the people.

Educate people? What does that mean? It means tell them it’s there! To do this, you need to get the word to them so that they know it’s there. Wi-Fi hotspots are very limited so most people may not see it. They might not know where to go to get connectivity. It is the city’s job to educate them, let them know it’s available, and what they should pay for it or how long it is free. Most people love free, including me. Let them know it’s there by other means!

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Just because it’s there doesn’t mean people will come, it’s not the “Field of Dreams” just yet, do your part. Make sure that the word gets out, and the people know what the terms are. It’s like when you go to the airport, and the Wi-Fi is only free for an hour. You usually read it on a billboard or see it on a screen or kiosk before you read the acceptance terms on your smartphone or laptop. Well, you may read it on your laptop, but probably not your smartphone.

Then you have some dedicated fans who are so grateful that you provided Wi-Fi for them. Getting the word out has been a major problem in the past. However, in the present, the cable companies have done a great job in letting you know where they have Wi-fi available and how long you can use it for free.

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To get Wi-Fi out there it is not easy. There are 3 major things you need, 1) backhaul, 2) mounting assets with power, and 3) Equipment. All the rest will come together, but most people think you can mount anywhere. Without power and backhaul and a place to mount, your equipment is useless. It takes time and money to plan this out. I often see how people think it’s like putting a hotspot in your home, but it is not. While you’re not building towers, you still need an installation crew to mount it somewhere and have a backhaul plan in place. Remember that this is a professional installation, not something you plug-in, drop, and run.

If you’re in the rural areas, then you know that Wi-Fi is not a viable solution. There is just too much area to cover. We need to rely on fiber, cable, copper, and licensed wireless to cover these broad areas. They need to have it available where the people are. It’s going to continue to be a problem. While VSAT, satellite, is a viable option, it hasn’t panned out so well. It just never really served the way we all hoped, the delays were high, and when the transponder gets loaded, everybody gets slow. Slow sucks! We all have the need for speed, not the patience for connection issues. This will be an issue.

The smart city has many options. They need to consider each one and figure out who will pay for it.

That is a high overview on one thing that I see in all cities, the need for broadband speed. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon. People rely on broadband for more and more in their everyday lives. So getting it to them in some way is critical!

Be smart, be safe, and pay attention!

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5G Fixed Wireless Spectrum and Why it Matters

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I am excited that we talk of 5G and fixed wireless. Fixed Wireless is where we put a radio up and shoot it to a building or a kiosk or a small cell or even a macro cell. If you’re in the wireless deployment business, then you would call this point to point, PTP, or Point to Multi-Point, PTMP or PMP. We used to call these microwave hops, but in this case, it is broadband to a specific facility. While this has been done for a while, not it’s going to be a viable competitor to ISPs and Cable companies. Wireless is taking over, and we have a shot to change the world here. Not just the carriers, but the small businesses who want to become ISPs really have a shot to provide real bandwidth to business and home customers. WOW! Can you feel it, a new era is rising in wireless broadband!

Don’t worry, I tie this into smart cities at the end.

First, let’s look at the 5G spectrum. I’m not sure if any of you saw it, but the 5G Americas group put together a great sheet on the 5G spectrum. I have the link so go ahead and download it.

http://www.5gamericas.org/files/9114/9324/1786/5GA_5G_Spectrum_Recommendations_2017_FINAL.pdf

Look at the new bands that the FCC is proposing to use:

  • 24 GHz bands: 24.25-24.45 GHz and 25.05-25.25 GHz
  • Local Multipoint Distribution Service (LMDS) band: 27.5-28.35 GHz, 29.1-29.25 GHz, and 31-31.3 GHz
  • 39 GHz band: 38.6-40 GHz • 37/42 GHz bands: 37.0-38.6 GHz and 42.0-42.5 GHz
  • 60 GHz bands: 57-64 GHz and 64-71 GHz (extension)
  • 70/80 GHz bands: 71-76 GHz, 81-86 GHz, 92-95 GHz

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If you think this is just ridiculous because you remember that this is merely a point to point short-haul solution, at least if you’re in the business and been around, you might be surprised that both Verizon and AT&T are bidding on Straight Path for their 38GHz licenses, http://www.phonearena.com/news/AT-T-outbid-for-Straight-Path-by-mystery-firm-rumored-to-be-Verizon_id93451 to gain that particular spectrum. Oh yeah, it is real, and it is valuable, and it will be a pain I the ass to engineer. Don’t forget about the Verizon XO deal, http://www.telecompetitor.com/in-pursuit-of-5g-spectrum-verizon-xo-purchase-closes/ where Verizon wants to lease the 28 to 31 GHz and 39 GHz spectrum.

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Even T-Mobile is getting in on the act, over a year ago they tested 5G on 38GHz, http://www.fiercewireless.com/tech/t-mobile-files-to-conduct-5g-tests-at-28-38-ghz, to see how viable it is.

I don’t see this spectrum as a mobile solution, but more of a fixed solution. This is going to be a thorn in the side of the cable and ISP business model. Why? It’s a new competitor that will have the reach and customer base and savvy to steal those customers. Remember, fewer millennials are watching traditional TV, they watch on demand as most of you do. Don’t deny it, do you really sit down and watch a show at the designated time or do you watch it on Amazon or Netflix or Zulu or with your DVR?

I tell you that I watch it on my DVR, but also on Amazon. I don’t watch much at the time the show airs except live sports. If there is the demand for live TV, sports is it! Even though I can watch sports on a device as well.

So, the push for massive broadband is coming. Those crappy TV packages that they cable companies are pushing will slowly fade away. Seriously, why can’t I get the channels I want and why do they always change the lineup which cancels the one channel I watch? I really hate paying a lot of money for something that I don’t really want, but the cable companies are not changing fast enough in my opinion. However, they do have great internet speeds to the home. I won’t deny that. They have a great model there with the cable modems.

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The wireless carriers are going to have to make it cost-effective, so all they need to do is come in lower, about 25%, on price to compete. They can’t come in at the same price because cable is very reliable and I get the feeling wireless will need a year to get there. I think they will need to work out the bugs. Then they will do what they always do, slowly raise the price until you leave.

That is why I am hoping that Legere at T-Mobile makes waves by getting there first. He already said he wants to attack the big cable companies the way that he attacked the big wireless carriers. If anyone can do it, I believe that John Legere can do it. He needs to push into fixed wireless. However, I believe he is too smart to just jump in. I think he will wait for Verizon and AT&T to work out the bugs and then pounce. First isn’t always best when there are problems. So why be first when the technology isn’t quite there? When it is, hammer the deals out to the customer, like he did with mobility. Great job there becoming #3 and pushing into #2.

Of course, CBRS will also be a game changer for those businesses that don’t need 100Mbps.It will allow us to do more in the rural areas. Remember CBRS, 3.5GHz? I love this spectrum because it will be open to more than just the big bad carriers who rule the spectrum. We have a chance to create something great when I say we, I mean the small businesses who must feed off the scraps which the carrier doesn’t own or manage. This may be the most valuable of all because it may not require LOS, a line of site, as shown here, http://www.telecompetitor.com/fixed-lte-in-cbrs-band-not-expected-to-require-line-of-sight-for-fixed-wireless/ for the connections to be made. This opens new doors for connectivity. I think it’s real and exciting! Hey don’t take my word for it, ask Google, http://www.rcrwireless.com/20161117/carriers/google-sees-cbrs-spectrum-band-key-5g-new-model-industry-tag2, and they will vouch for this.

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To be fair, the 5G Americas Spectrum document that I reference above also has a quick blurb in it about CBRS, and I quote “Other bands of interest, From the point of view of global harmonization in the 3 to 5 GHz range as the main mid-range spectrum target for 5G, interests have been expressed in use of this range for 5G in the United States. This could potentially include current CBRS band (3.55-3.7 GHz) and beyond (e.g. up to 4.2 GHz).” I believe that the CBRS will play a large part because the carrier doesn’t want to deploy small cells everywhere, in fact, they are going to let that up to the business owners or the landlord to do. They won’t admit this but I think they are looking for a neutral host solution and CBRS is a great solution! Licensed and protected and it could potentially have multiple carriers on one band. If you think this is crazy, have you ever heard of Wi-Fi? Does it discriminate based on a carrier in your home? NOPE! It just connects, so this will be a stepped-up version of that where it will connect, but it may discriminate based on your carrier. Amazing!

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If you want to read more about it, 4G Americas put together a document back in October of 2014, found here http://www.5gamericas.org/files/2414/1323/5229/4G_Americas_Spectrum_Sharing_-_FINAL_Oct_2014.pdf that helps explain CBRS. Go ahead, download it, it’s free!

Why does Fixed Wireless Matter to a Smart City?

Why? Because cities are going to want alternatives to running fiber on poles and underground. The dig once the policy is going to be enforced more and more throughout the USA. The poles are going to be a point of contention among competitors. The access rights and permitting battles will heat up until we find a resolution. The FCC is working to streamline small cell deployments, and the cities are realizing that they must lay out the requirements for a proper installation. If things go as planned, the fixed wireless base stations should be a lot like small cells with batteries. I believe that power is going to be the issue because if the power goes out people still want Internet access. So, this issue needs to be resolved.

The smart city is going to be aware that they need broadband service for small businesses and for kiosks as well as food trucks. They will rely on smartphones, but the demand will grow. As demand grows we come up with new solutions. If you go to a city, you will see stands that sell newspapers, hot dogs, and T-Shirts almost on every busy street. They rely on landlines and smartphones to do business now. It will become a game changer when they can run the online business out of the same small stand that they run the physical business out of. Things change and become more and more advances. As the business grows, revenue grows, the city gains more in tax revenue. It’s a win-win all around.

I am hoping that fixed wireless can be one of the catalysts to help make this happen.

Resources:

Be smart, be safe, and pay attention!

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IWCE 2016 Review on Next Generation of Wireless Networks

I got back from IWCE 2016 exhausted. There was so much going on at that show that I can’t begin to tell you everything. So what I will go over is what I was able to attend.

Of course, my sessions were really important! To me anyway. I talked about LTE deployment on Monday with others who talked LTE in the session M201 – Next Generation Wireless Networks: 4G, LTE and Broadband.

Mary Walsh of LBC Consultants and Services moderated the session and did a great job of introducing us all and moderating.

I was on the stage with Wim Brouwer of Nokia who spoke of Wi-Fi and how it could be leveraged to maximize LTE coverage. Wim spoke of how Wi-Fi can be used to extend the connection of your device back into the core. How now Wi-Fi does not have to have a specific SSID to connect to the core, but the device would connect through the Wi-Fi to the core. The way I understood it was that the Wi-Fi was merely a pipe to the internet that could connect to the core.

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Patrik Ringqvist, the VP and CTO of Industry and Society for Ericsson spoke about LTE and the progression into 5G. His presentation spoke of the roadmap of VoLTE being ready for services and 5G will use LTE as the foundation to build the newer 5G network.

Dan O’Malley a senior product manager of Cisco gave his talk on what is broadband. While he gave a strong Cisco position it was very interesting. He was able to show us the LTE options and how the broadband system was not only the RAN, but the applications all the way to the core. It was really quite interesting.

Sami Honkaniemi, the managing director or the Mentura Group, gave a great talk on how hybrid systems of the current PTT and LTE systems can co-exist and work together now. This was showing how for mission critical system the LTE would have to have solutions to bridge the open gap between your data on LTE and your mission critical voice on your PTT system which could be DMX, TETRA, P25, or anything else. It looked really cool!

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Mohan Tammisetti, the CTO and Co-Founder of Virtualcomm, and Gary Monetti, founder and managing director of Monetti and Associates,  talked about how the LTE systems can be expanded by using a small interface and a LTE hotspot for emergency situations.  This small LTE system extender was really a hit and something that people are interested in because you can expand the network in a crisis situation with little effort! (If the FAA would allow it, which by todays rules, they don’t.) Then you could launch a drone with the hotspot and connect back to the mini core with either Wi-Fi or a back channel, and use that for the first responders on site. If only the FAA could clear up the drone rules for business and emergency use.

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Mohan Tammisetti was planning to do a demo later that evening. I would have loved to have seen the demo but I could not make it. They were going to show the connectivity of the LTE through their tiny core and the hotspot. It was a proof of concept.

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I went over the actual LTE Wireless deployment. This was the session that I thought would really highlight what the deployment teams do for LTE. Remember, without the deployment teams, RF Design, installers, tower climbers, optimization teams, site acquisition teams, and all the people that put the system out there, not of the above systems will work. They mean nothing if you keep them in a lab, when they are deployed, that is when they make money!

I was able to absorb quite a bit of information, don’t be afraid to click here to see all of my IWCE 2016 sessions.

I hope that sums it up for you!

Remember, be smart, be safe, and pay attention!

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