Bringing broadband wireless home

Think wireless Internet, and you probably think mobile handheld devices and cellular phones. Yet there's another rapidly expanding facet of wireless technology, known as fixed wireless, which provides Internet access to immobile desktop systems in homes and businesses.

Think wireless Internet, and you probably think mobile handheld devices and cellular phones. Yet there's another rapidly expanding facet of wireless technology, known as fixed wireless, which provides Internet access to immobile desktop systems in homes and businesses.

by Carol Levin, PC Magazine

19 May 2000 - The radio-frequency technology, known as MMDS (multichannel multipoint distribution services), is ancient--in Internet time--having been used to transmit analog television signals for 30 years. Now that it's been adapted to handle two-way Internet data and work in a range of bands between 2.4 GHz and 2.6 GHz, it's poised to compete with cable and DSL for broadband Internet connections to homes and businesses.

Sprint Broadband Direct is one of the latest fixed wireless services that uses MMDS to deliver speedy Internet connections up to 10 Mbps to both homes and businesses. Recently launched in Phoenix, it requires a small transceiver mounted on the roof or side of your house, a wireless modem, and transmission towers. (Each transmitter reaches customers within a 35-mile radius.) The transceiver needs a line-of-sight to the transmitter.

As a result of the merger between Worldcom and Sprint, fixed wireless service is expected to reach about 66 percent of all households, according to Sprint. The service is scheduled to be up and running in 10 cities by the end of the year. The monthly charges, through Earthlink Sprint, are around $40.

By deploying MMDS, Sprint is able to bypass the so-called "last mile" that's owned by local Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs)--in the case of DSL--and AT&T--in the case of cable. "Only the wireless alternative will open competition, spark new services, and break the duopoly's hold on local customers," says Tim Sutton, president of Sprint's Broadband Wireless Group. Over on the mobile side, MCI Worldcom plans to roll out a PC Card-based 128-Kbps mobile wireless service by the end of the year, starting in major cities.

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