It’s no secret that some communities, in particular rural, have limited broadband options. Even if there is a choice, the costs involved can be significant for the consumer. While a lot of discussion around fixed wireless centers on the return on investment (ROI) for the operator, it can be useful to consider the subscriber’s ROI.
We recently chatted with someone who lives in a very rural area where their current WISP charges $115 per month for a 25/10 Mbps connection. This is after taxes and a $10 per month charge for a wireless bridge mounted in their window. The bridge points to a small tower that 20 homes in the community jointly paid $1,400 to have installed. All of this to get a 25/10 Mbps connection.
Now another WISP is moving to serve this neighborhood and their model is a bit different. For this operator, the subscriber needs to build a tower next to their house at a cost of roughly $3,000. If they do so, they can get a faster connection (50 Mbps) for a lower monthly cost of $70/month.
If you were the subscriber, which route would you take? Keep the current (slower) plan with a higher cost and monthly equipment fee ($10/month) or pay more upfront for a lower monthly cost and higher speed? In this specific case, it would take over five years before the subscriber truly sees a fiscal benefit. That’s a long time.
Part of the problem, of course, is that each operator is limited to line of sight (LoS) with their fixed-wireless access equipment. Hence the need for towers. We hear this story all of the time from operators that spend time and effort trying to get reliable connectivity to these customers. But it’s not easy and the requirement for extra towers adds that much more time, complexity, and cost to serving these communities.
As for the subscriber, it’s a tough choice. As they explained to us, they would gladly pay a bit more as a one-time cost for a smarter CPE that can handle longer, NLoS links if it meant not having to pay for a tower. Likewise, any operator would prefer fewer towers as well: less upfront cost (capex) and maintenance (opex) as well as less complexity and fewer places for something to go wrong.
Tarana’s G1 next-generation fixed wireless access (ngFWA) platform is aimed to deliver exactly these benefits. Perfect multipath integration, adaptive multi-dimensional signal processing and digital beamforming uses all available RF energy to get the strongest possible signal in the direction it’s needed while canceling unwanted interference. It also helps getting around obstacles and link obstructions that would otherwise make a link challenging for legacy FWA equipment. These are exactly the kinds of features designed to solve the problems discussed here: both for the subscriber looking for reliable, high-speed broadband without huge upfront costs and the operator looking for a way to gain new subscribers with less equipment and complexity.