Fixed Wireless, An Oxymoron in Need of Explaining
On the surface, ‘fixed wireless’ seems like a contradiction in terms akin to ‘jumbo shrimp’ and other amusing oxymorons that pair opposites. Perhaps this explains the buzz around the service that has businesses seeking it out without fully understanding it.
In this blog post, we cut through the hype, clear some confusion, and reveal where fixed wireless comes up short, providing alternatives you might be better off considering instead.
Fixed Wireless 101
Simply put, fixed wireless uses radio frequencies to transmit data between a wireless base station and equipment located at the home or business of the recipient.
For this reason, fixed wireless is primarily used in rural areas where laying cables over long distances can be difficult and expensive. It’s also used in urban areas where there may be limitations on the availability of wired broadband networks.
Advocates for fixed wireless see this versatility as a primary benefit of the service. But as you’ll see, there’s more to it than this.
Challenges of Fixed Wireless
Unlike conventional cable options, fixed wireless has some unique drawbacks that make it a questionable choice for business internet users:
Limited range: It requires a clear line of sight between the wireless base station and the customer's antenna, which can be challenging in areas with obstructed views or topography.
Latency: Fixed wireless internet may experience higher latency compared to wired broadband options, which can affect the performance of certain applications such as online uploading and video conferencing.
Cost: Fixed wireless internet can be complicated to install and requires specialized equipment such as antennas and modems. For these reasons, it’s typically more expensive than conventional options.
Inclement Weather: It can be affected by weather conditions, such as rain, snow, and high winds, which can cause signal degradation and service outages.
Fixed Wireless Is Not 5G
Perhaps because they both use radio waves, fixed wireless and 5G are often mistaken as one and the same. They’re not, and we outline the differences here.
5G refers to the fifth generation of mobile network technology, which provides faster data transfer speeds, lower latency, and the ability to connect more devices at the same time. It’s primarily designed for mobile devices, but it can also be used for home internet connections. 5G networks use radio waves to transmit data wirelessly between devices and base stations.
Fixed wireless, on the other hand, uses wireless signals to connect a fixed location to the internet. Unlike 5G, which is a mobile technology, fixed wireless is a stationary technology that connects a fixed location to the internet using a wireless antenna.
While both 5G and fixed wireless use wireless signals to provide internet connectivity, they differ in their primary use cases and deployment methods. 5G is essentially a mobile technology, and fixed wireless, as the name implies, is fixed.
Alternatives to Fixed Wireless
Although fixed wireless is often positioned as a primary solution for businesses in rural and urban areas, other viable alternatives are worth considering. These include:
Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
DSL is a type of broadband internet that uses telephone lines to deliver internet connectivity. It is slower than cable internet but is available in many rural areas where cable is not available.
Cable internet uses the same coaxial cables that deliver cable TV services to homes and businesses. It offers faster speeds than DSL and is widely available in urban and suburban areas.
Fiber Optic Internet
Fiber optic internet is a type of broadband internet that uses fiber-optic cables to transmit data. It offers faster speeds than cable or DSL and is becoming more widely available in urban and suburban areas.
Mesh Wi-Fi is delivered through several routers instead of single point of entry. Each covers its own area and overlaps with others in the facility. The resulting mesh “umbrella” ensures that Wi-Fi connectivity isn’t compromised, providing consistent, reliable service.
Sparklight Business Internet
Hargray offers a wide variety of high-speed internet options that are tailor-made for business. Moreover, we have the expertise and resources to ensure you get the solution that best fits your business needs.
Whether you’re small and rural, large and urban or somewhere in between, we can help. Let Hargray assist as you consider the many options available to your business. Contact us today to get started.