Monday, July 24, 2017

AT&T's 4G LTE premise service bolt on could fall short of bandwidth demand

AT&T plans to use cell towers to bring internet access to thousands in rural South Carolina | Business | postandcourier.com: AT&T is planning to use cell towers across South Carolina to bring high-speed broadband to rural areas where internet access is slow to nonexistent. The telecom giant says it's in the process of installing antennas capable of connecting thousands of people in sparsely populated corners of the state. (Emphasis added) Roughly 12,000 homes and businesses will have access to the new service by the end of the year. The work covers some 20 counties in South Carolina under a Federal Communications Commission initiative to boost access in underserved areas. Company spokesman Daniel Hayes declined to say which areas would get service.
The problem is those thousands of people will need a lot of cells backhauled with fiber as bandwidth demand continues its inexorable march upward. Since this technology -- essentially a bolt on to existing 4G LTE mobile network -- is being deployed as a lower cost alternative to fiber to the premise, deploying lots of tower equipment and fiber backhaul would work against the CAPex cost saving objective.

The likely upshot is there will be too many household competing for too little shared bandwidth, particularly in peak evening times when video entertainment streaming and remote learning is done. For example, there have been reports within the past week that Verizon Wireless has throttled video streaming to reduce bandwidth demand.

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