Wireless Business Broadband Options When wired infrastructure doesn’t exist, wireless comes to the rescue.
By John Shepler
We live in a wired world. Your business is tethered to infrastructure of electrical power, telephone and Internet by a variety of copper cables. Electric power and landline phone are almost universally available, thanks to national plans and regulations.
Internet? Not so much. While copper and fiber optic broadband are readily available in metro and suburban areas, as you get farther from the city center you options go down. Out in rural areas? There’s often no such thing as wired Internet infrastructure. You either go without or… go wireless.
Point to Point Microwave
Think of point to point microwave as fiber optic without the fiber. At high enough frequencies that could be an actual light beam from a laser, although it is much more common to use the centimeter and millimeter wave bands.
PTP microwave uses small dish antennas at the sending and receiving ends. This is a fixed, not mobile, service and you need the antenna on your building high enough to see the other dish without obstructions. These high frequencies don’t penetrate objects well, but they can supply high bandwidths of a Gigabit per second or more.
While PTP microwave established itself in dense metro areas that might be expensive to add fiber or cabling or take too long for construction, you see these little dishes on cell towers out in the country for the same reason. If there is a provider serving your area, you might be in luck for this service.
Wireless Internet Service Providers
A WISP, as it is known, is a centrally located tower that provides wireless Internet service to a small service area circling the tower. This is point to multi-point rather than a dedicated PTP link. Think of WISPs as high powered WiFI outdoor routers. Like PTP, you’ll need an outdoor antenna, perhaps one of those small dishes, pointed at the tower. They may operate in licensed or unlicensed spectrum and deliver typical broadband speeds.
WISPs are popular where fiber and cable don’t reach, but they are local operations. You may or may not have one that serves your location.
Cellular Broadband Service
Just about everyone has a smartphone these days and making phone calls is the least of the services we expect. No, it’s the broadband Internet connection feeding a myriad of apps that keeps us glued to the screen. That same broadband can be harnessed for business applications using an access point that has all the circuitry needed for broadband but minus the screen and telephone capability.
For limited or infrequent use, you might pick up one of these access points at a big box store. Have it set up for the carrier of your choice. These work well in areas where the cellular signal is strong and usually come with fairly limited usage plans. Plug the access point into your router or buy one that comes with a WiFi router and you can serve your entire business.
A more robust version designed especially for business uses specially designed antennas for better signal pickup or an outside antenna that will give you a strong signal even in rural areas. These business grade access points are usually 4G LTE or 5G where available. They also come with more extensive data plans, some even unlimited… just what you need to run a business with employees.
What makes this really attractive is that the cellular infrastructure is already widespread and extending out into many rural areas and smaller towns. If your business needs to move from job site to job site or your operate pop-up stores, cellular broadband may be the only reasonable option that will follow you.
Yes, there are areas really out in the boonies where there is no cellular service and even landline phone and electric power are hard to come by. You can still get Internet, though. How? With a satellite dish pointed at the southern sky where the geostationary communication satellites are parked. Newer high power satellites offer high speeds, reliable service, reasonable data plans for business and reasonable prices.
The big limitation of satellite business broadband is the latency that is inherent in the long distances that the signal must travel up to the bird and back down. This half to one second or so delay can be an annoyance for business processes that use the cloud or VoIP phone calls and video conferences. For email, web browsing, remote data acquisition and file transfers, latency might not be much of an problem at all.
The latency issues will likely be solved by the new constellations of Low Earth Orbit or LEO satellites. These orbit hundreds rather than tens of thousands of miles up and support latencies similar to cable or long haul fiber. SpaceX is first to market with an extensive fleet of broadband satellites that will provide worldwide coverage, even at sea, in a few years. Other providers will likely follow, as the potential market for connecting the disconnected is enormous.
Are you in serious need of reliable broadband Internet service for your business at a reasonable price? Find out what wired and wireless solutions are available for your locations now.
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