NTCA, Vantage study reveals wireless is complementary, not a replacement for wireline networks

Wireless technology may offer a number of great advantages in terms of ease of use and convenience, but a new study conducted by NTCA and Vantage Point Solutions reveals that wireless technologies are a complement rather than a replacement.

In its new study called "Wireless Broadband Not a Viable Substitute for Wireline Broadband" that was filed with the FCC, Vantage Point examined various broadband delivery networks and found that there are a number of factors, including a lack of spectrum, weather and terrain, which limit a wireless network's broadband quality but do not affect wireline-based broadband networks. 

Three of the key findings of the report are:

Spectrum: Not only is spectrum an expensive resource for a carrier to secure, the limited amount of available spectrum can limit actual broadband speeds. In the case where a service provider can't access additional spectrum, they have to add either new towers to increase capacity or deploy small cell technology, two measures that NTCA says "increases deployment cost and only underscores the ultimate dependence of wireless services on wireline technologies."

Speed: One of the key factors in determining what speed a customer will get from a wireless connection is how far away they are from an area cell tower. Customers that reside in rural areas are challenged by the fact that they may live longer distances from the closest tower, many of which are spaced 10-20 miles apart. These distances mean that service could be very slow or nonexistent.

Environmental impacts: Besides the distance from the tower, the presence of mountains, hills, buildings and trees can interfere with a wireless signal. What's more, rain, fog or snow can also have an impact on speeds and also cause network outages. These issues are very common in rural areas.

"While wireless networks are needed for low bit rate mobile applications, such as voice, email and small screen video, wireline networks are required to meet customers' high-speed, fixed broadband needs," said Larry Thompson, Vantage Point Solutions' CEO and the report's chief author. "Even fixed wireless solutions that offer near-term promise for reaching consumers face the prospect of being unable to keep up with consumer demand over the longer term."

For more:
- see the release

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