Monday, April 21, 2008

Qwest questions future growth path of wireless broadband

Wireless broadband is seen as a much needed "third pipe" to deliver broadband in areas where wireline-based broadband is scarce or nonexistent. For example, in the vast western U.S. service area of Denver-based telco Qwest.

However, Qwest Chief Technology Officer Pieter Poll doesn't believe wireless can deliver sufficient capacity in the future as bandwidth demand grows. Instead, he suggests its role is that of an interim technology. Here's what he had to say on the topic in an interview with Telephony Online:

If you look at the calculation of what wireless networks can provide in terms of bandwidth, it’s a bit-per-second-per-hertz argument, first of all--the efficiency of how you use spectrum. But ultimately [it’s] finite spectrum. With a number of users. As you build networks, there’s a natural density of cells or reuse that you can get to. I don’t see wireless networks replacing wired broadband networks the way people are thinking about future wired broadband networks. Don’t get me wrong; I’m very excited about what wireless broadband offers today and will offer in the future. But I think it has its appropriate place for the reuse and speed offered. When we start thinking about things we can do in the home with extreme speeds, those are things you will not be able to realistically do over wireless networks, at least at any cost point that an operator would consider feasible.

1 comment:

Carol Anne said...

Duh! So, Qwest acknowledges that the Nyquist Limit still holds. What a surprise! (Nyquist illustrates that the maximum bit-rate of an uncompressed signal is half the frequency of the carrier.)

However, the virtue of Wireless is that the transmitter power is so low that it covers only a restricted distance (unless you go to extreme antennas), so the bandwidth available is multiplied by the number of geographic areas available. Assume a WiFi link can cover a one-square-mile area; there are more than 3.5 Million square miles in the U.S. alone. That means the total maximum capacity is the WiFi capacity (say, 54 MB/S) time 3.5x10^6.

Qwest's spokesperson is spouting drivel that is both incomplete and ignorant.

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