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[Discuss] satellite Internet vs. fixed wireless

Edward Ned Harvey wrote:
> Matthew Gillen wrote:
>> Another option: 
> ...latency is about a half a second.
> They say that's not good enough for gaming...  Rightly so...  But
> they say for voice, it's perfectly fine.  Which is ... bogus.

Right, not to mention that it only has 1 or 2 Mbps upstream, so it is
another "entertainment focused" solution.

Satellite Internet has been an available option for a while, with
coverage for most of North America, yet does anyone know anyone who has
it around here, or seen any marketing for it? (Ed might be the only
person on this list who has used it. Did you have it while in the
greater Boston area?)

The big expense is getting the satellites into space, and once you've
done that, you would expect them to aggressively market the service to
all of the US, as more subscribers spreads their fixed costs, and lower
cost per subscriber means they should be able to undercut terrestrial ISPs.

But that hadn't happened. Because it isn't a viable option. When I visit
rural parts of Canada they make some use of satellite Internet (although
even there I've only heard about it 3rd hand; no one I know has it), but
it's a 4th choice behind cable, DSL, and fixed wireless.

Satellite only makes sense when the population density is so low that
even fixed wireless, which can serve a radius or 10 or 20 miles per
tower, is not cost effective.

I have some experience with fixed wireless in Canada, and it seems to be
a pretty good solution. They used cell phone-like towers, with multiple
transceivers mounted in a circular, omni directional pattern around the
tower. The equipment I've used is made by a company acquired by
Motorola, and is related to WiMax technology (might be compatible with
the standard). It's marketed as being usable with a mobile end-point,
but I've only seen it used for fixed point-to-point links.

The infrastructure is relatively inexpensive, quick to install, can
offer speeds exceeding DSL, low latency, and seems to be impervious to
weather (the outside transceivers seem to have a small heater built in
to them). (A link I've been monitoring for 12+ months seems to have
downtime comparable to DSL service - a few hours per year.)

It makes you wonder what happened to fixed wireless around here? People
were all excited about it back around 2000. I think there are still a
few companies in the Boston area doing expensive fixed-wireless links
for medium+ businesses. Nothing for consumers or small businesses. It
seems like we got distracted by Wimax, which had more technical
challenges dealing with mobile end-points, was undercut by cheap cable
Internet, and increasingly cheaper 3G and now 4G cell data.

About the only wireless option you hear mentioned these days is 4G cell
data, such as Clear, mentioned earlier in this thread. This is more
complicated and expensive than the fixed-wireless I described above, and
by the sounds of it, less reliable.

Has anyone heard of any efforts to create a community owned
fixed-wireless ISP?


Tom Metro
Venture Logic, Newton, MA, USA
"Enterprise solutions through open source."
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