The solution for the new millennium.
One would have had to sleep through the last five years to miss the tremendous proliferation of "dot-coms" and other Internet-based companies that are changing the face of business today. Even institutions that have yet to embrace today's technological advances cannot dispute this revolution as Internet-related stocks dominate the market and data-related IPOs take center stage.
More than simply point-and-click consumer e-commerce, the industry of business-to-business Internet applications has exploded as companies offer services and applications that run the gamut, from portals to PC applications-on-demand and offsite "hard drives." Businesses--now more than at any other time in history--have everything needed to succeed at their fingertips.
Unfortunately, this explosive growth of dot-com companies continues to outpace the abilities of telcos and ISPs to provide adequate bandwidth and connectivity at the speeds necessary for business consumers to fully realize the potential of the Internet. A business' ability to connect with the outside world remains constrained by the local bottleneck, as the T1 line--the standard transport method of the past--continues to dominate, even as the need for increased bandwidth compounds.
The endeavor to fulfill bandwidth requirements is not new. Fiber-optic deployments accelerated during the mid-1980s as the perfect solution to meet the demand not met by copper. But deployment is slow and expensive; and, at the beginning of this new century, fiber has not proven to be the panacea once thought. Despite its currently unparalleled bandwidth potential, fiber has not been deployed fast enough nor far enough to make a considerable impact because it reaches only 5% of commercial buildings in the United States.
As the data revolution increases at an ever-quickening pace, no one can afford to wait another decade--or even another year--for a solution to the bandwidth crisis.
The copper currently in place does not offer enough bandwidth for business consumers; if it did, the industry would not have moved toward fiber deployment. New copper technologies only serve locations within a close range of the network point of presence, and they do not come close to offering the bandwidth potential of fiber.
Data via cable networks is a residential technology deployed in a few areas of high business concentration. But, as its popularity rises, so does its potential for over-subscription.
What viable option remains?
Fixed wireless offers the perfect broadband solution to meet the needs of bandwidth-intensive business customers. New technologies offer tremendous bandwidth potential, far exceeding copper, cable, and other wireless alternatives. A fixed-wireless network deployed in a consecutive-point ring can offer access at Fast Ethernet or OC-3 speeds today and OC-12 or Gigabit Ethernet speeds in the near future. Networks can be deployed at a fraction of the time and cost of fiber and can offer carrier-class reliability. The use of higher frequency local multipoint distribution systems (LMDS) and 38-GHz-licensed spectrum has flourished since the mid-1990s, and many of these operators have taken on the challenge of fulfilling business customers' Internet and data demands.
THE BROADBAND FIXED-WIRELESS SOLUTION
One such company is Advanced Radio Telecom Corp. (ART), one of the largest holders of 38-GHz licenses in the United States today. ART has chosen to execute a pure-data, pure-Internet protocol (IP) business model.
In June 1999, ART began a trial of a 100-Mbps broadband IP network featuring a new fixed-wireless architecture based on the traditional fiber model of bidirectional, self-healing rings. Unlike the hub-and-spur architecture offered by point-to-multipoint fixed-wireless offerings, ART's network architecture deploys radios atop buildings in a ring topology so that, if any point in the network fails, traffic is rerouted in the opposite direction without the customer experiencing downtime. Additionally, this new design for fixed wireless offers narrow beamwidth which, combined with advances in power control, allows equipment to automatically adjust power over a large range to account for rain attenuation, maximize frequency re-use, and provide a means to reach a greater number of locations.
ART's trial network, involving 11 multitenant buildings in San Jose, Calif., features a new broadband wireless radio from Triton Network Systems, called Invisible Fiber Internet, as well as Ethernet routing and switching products supplied by Cisco Systems. ART deployed the hardware in a self-healing ring architecture that links commercial office buildings together to create a fully redundant network capable of providing 200 Mbps of total bandwidth on its bidirectional paths. The installation began at the network point of presence by deploying radios and Ethernet switching equipment. The network continued full circle back to the network access point, creating a ring configuration. Two radios on opposing sites formed line-of-site links, while two radios on each building connected through a fast Ethernet switch in the building.
"The technology itself is elegant in its simplicity, and the quality of the network rivals or exceeds the best of the carrier platforms operating today," says Robert McCambridge, ART president and COO. "Our customers will be able to experience the true power of bandwidth between the LAN and the WAN, totally circumventing the crippling congestion in the local loop."
ART began offering commercial Internet access service to businesses on the San Jose network in September 1999. The company plans to expand its deployment of all-IP broadband wireless metropolitan area networks (MANs) in 40 of the top 50 U.S. markets. As one of the nation's first IP service providers (IPSP), ART will initially provision high-speed connections on a wholesale basis for ISPs, carriers, on-site service providers, ASPs, and content service providers.
WIRELESS: THE FUTURE OF BROADBAND
Volpe Brown Whelan & Co. (VBW), a leading investment bank for the technology sector, released a comprehensive broadband industry report in December 1999 indicating that the unprecedented growth of Internet traffic offers "a tremendous opportunity for broadband use to take off and investors to profit." VBW projects explosive growth for fixed wireless as perhaps the most important means of broadband access in the near future--one that will significantly expand the availability of broadband connectivity, particularly for small and midsized businesses. Indeed, the overwhelming support of fixed wireless by the investment community signifies its emergence from a quick fix or make-do alternative to the full-fledged leader of the future of broadband access.
The potential of Internet can only be fully realized when the local transport comes up to speed with the emergence of dot-com companies and the development of up-and-coming applications. As the world of business moves into the future at an ever-quickening pace and everyday operations become increasingly reliant on data communications and Internet-dependent devices, broadband fixed wireless serves as the best method for providing the business consumer with what is really needed for success: bandwidth and speed. Wireless truly is the future of broadband.
Speaks is president and CEO, Triton Network Systems, Inc., Orlando, Fla.
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|Title Annotation:||Technology Information|
|Comment:||Fixed wireless offers a perfect broadband solution to the accelerating data needs of the new e-commerce and other online services.|
|Date:||Feb 1, 2000|
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