Can a Fixed Wireless Last 100m Connection Really Compete with a Wired Connection? (2017)

By J.R. Flesch, Bryan Pavlich, David Virag & Charles Cheevers, ARRIS; Belal Hamzeh, Ph.D. & Dorin Viorel, CableLabs

For wireless communications, this is an unprecedented time. More licensed and unlicensed radio spectrum between UHF white space and millimeter wave mega-block partitions is being made available for commercial interests to invest in and grow business services than at any single prior point in history.

The FCC is balancing competitive access for both licensed and unlicensed exploits with innovative dynamic spectrum arbitration promoting shared access in the 3.5 GHz CBRS band. The spectral largesse across all bands has predictably drawn enthusiastic attention from all the major MSO and MNO players with service expansion (or protection) interests at stake. The 5G area of wireless connectivity at scale, 10Gbps speeds and millisecond or less latency has set in motion a burgeoning and perhaps somewhat preemptive set of wireless test trials aimed at establishing both technical merit and posturing some degree of “best stewardship” of the public airwaves.

The use of millimeter wave spectrum has sparked many debates about its architecture and economies —given the physics restrictions of primarily requiring “Line of Sight” to deliver the promise of multi Gigabits of wireless delivery. It is this non-determinism of signal propagation that has generated lots of research, innovation, and testing of solutions to create and define a deployable architecture that will support both Fixed Wireless Access and mobility uses.

This paper focuses on the hot industry topic: can a Fixed Wireless Access solution be developed to compete with or augment the wired broadband solutions today? It will examine the available spectrum options for delivery of a reliable, high-bitrate wireless connection over the last few hundred meters of Front-haul as an alternative to fiber-to-the-home (FTTH). These are the cases where a newcomer wants to overlay incumbent, existing greenfield opportunities, or CAPEX considerations render the latter alternative unsound. Leverage of the best attributes of near-line-of-sight (nLOS), non-line-of-sight(NLOS), and line-of-sight (LOS) signaling will be examined. The opportunity to extend a hybridfiber/coax (HFC) plant by means of a wireless end network overlay will be analyzed for viability for the last 200m access to a home.

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