Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Motley Fool item on 5G as premise service overlooks #FTTP

AT&T and Verizon's 5G Ambitions Are Cable's Worst Nightmare -- The Motley Fool: When it comes to picking a cable Internet provider, you usually have one (maybe two, if you're lucky) options. Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) and Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) provide Internet to about 71% of new Internet subscribers in America right now. That percentage is expected to stay about the same if Charter Communications' purchase of Time Warner Cable goes through.

The near-duopoly of cable providers in many regions of the country is a long-standing problem -- and wireless providers may have found a solution. You may already know AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) are in the process of testing 5G networks, which will bring much faster and reliable connections than even 4G LTE. But what you may not know is that 5G could also be used as an ultra-fast wireless connection for home broadband, too.

How 5G home broadband works.
Cellular connections work by sending out long-range signals from very large towers, but 5G home broadband would work a bit differently. AT&T and Verizon are testing out what's called "fixed wireless" in which a home wireless router would receive a signal from small cellular boxes (called small cells) placed much closer to your home than large towers.

Missing from this Motley Fool story is the cost/benefit tradeoff discussion comparing 5G to fiber to the premise (FTTP). Wireless does indeed have greater throughput capacity when the signal doesn't have to travel far such as in-building Wi-Fi. But it will take a lot of fiber installed relatively close to customer premises to support those small cell sites. So close, in fact, that it raises the question as to whether 5G makes sense as a premise telecom service delivery technology considering the small additional cost of bridging the short distance between small cell sites and customer premises with a direct FTTP connection. A connection that is far more future proof, less subject to interference and obstacles such as hills and foliage and offers far greater carrying capacity.

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