WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Fiber Broadband Association and Vantage Point Solutions today announced a white paper that answers the question, “Can Unlicensed Wireless Solve the Rural Digital Divide?” The research reveals that the limitations of unlicensed wireless are too great to be worthy of investment from public funds, such as the NTIA’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, and therefore cannot effectively close the digital equity gap. The paper concludes that fiber remains the most future-proof of all broadband technologies.
“The BEAD program is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to close the U.S. broadband gap. In order to keep it closed, broadband providers need to ensure they are deploying highly-reliable networks that have fast speeds and are scalable and sustainable long-term,” said John George, chair of Fiber Broadband Association’s Technology Committee and Senior Director of Solutions Engineering and Fusion Splicers at OFS. “Making the wrong technology choice now will require even more investment sooner than expected in order to meet increasing customer demands and will likely doom many to be on the wrong side of the digital divide forever.”
The white paper notes that wireless networks can provide broadband to customers that have no better solution available, but its characteristics limit it from meeting the growing needs of broadband customers long-term, especially in rural environments. One of the most obvious limitations is cost. While wireless networks often require lower initial capital investment than landline networks, this advantage disappears or flips when considering the increased operational expenses of ongoing maintenance.
Other limitations lie in the spectrum itself. The amount of available spectrum limits broadband speed and capacity. There is less than 1,800 MHz of unlicensed and lightly licensed spectrum in the low-band and mid-band spectrum, while a single fiber has 59 million MHz of spectrum available for use—33,000 times more than unlicensed wireless. Much of the BEAD funding will be focused on rural areas, and wireless has the unfortunate characteristic that the radio signal degrades as the distance between the customer and tower increases. Additionally, the average broadband speed is over 250 Mbps and providers need to prepare for gigabit speeds in the next few years. There is no wireless spectrum available that would allow a fixed wireless network to practically and economically deliver that speed in a rural environment.
“Fixed wireless has some advantages for short-term use, but falls short both technically and economically in long-term, high-performance broadband - especially in rural applications,” said Larry Thompson, CEO at Vantage Point Solutions. “This is why fiber continues to be the preferred technology in the BEAD program, where the goal is to connect every community, home, and person to reliable broadband and not only close the digital divide, but keep it closed.”
Larry Thompson will present the white paper on the next episode of Fiber Broadband Association’s Fiber for Breakfast, on Wednesday, April 19, at 10:00 am EDT. To attend, register for the webinar here.
About the Fiber Broadband Association
The Fiber Broadband Association is the largest and only trade association that represents the complete fiber ecosystem of service providers, manufacturers, industry experts, and deployment specialists dedicated to the advancement of fiber broadband deployment and the pursuit of a world where communications are limitless, advancing quality of life and digital equity anywhere and everywhere. The Fiber Broadband Association helps providers, communities, and policy makers make informed decisions about how, where, and why to build better fiber broadband networks. Since 2001, these companies, organizations, and members have worked with communities and consumers in mind to build the critical infrastructure that provides the economic and societal benefits that only fiber can deliver. The Fiber Broadband Association is part of the Fibre Council Global Alliance, which is a platform of six global FTTH Councils in North America, LATAM, Europe, MEA, APAC, and South Africa. Learn more at fiberbroadband.org.
About Vantage Point Solutions
Better broadband means better lives. Vantage Point Solutions, Inc. helps providers bring this promise to life through comprehensive engineering and consulting solutions tailored to the unique needs of the companies, cooperatives, and communities we serve. Vantage Point works with broadband and telecom providers in more than 40 states. Our nearly 500 employees include ten licensed professional engineers, three attorneys, and industry leaders in technology and advocacy. With professional engineers and regulatory experts under the same rook, we understand the big picture for any individual company decision or broader industry policy. As an employee-owned company, we hold ourselves to a high standard for both service delivery and business ethics. These high standards extend to our industry involvement, where we are staunch advocates for the broadband deployment everywhere tied to the responsible use of broadband investment.