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Does Weather Affect Fixed Wireless?

Does Weather Affect Fixed Wireless? GeoLinks

Can Weather Affect a Fixed Wireless Internet Connection?

The majority of businesses today have become intrinsically reliant on the Internet. From serving as an accessible means to communicate globally, to hosting e-commerce stores, to conducting online credit transactions and transfers, it has become paramount for businesses to have a reliable, high-speed Internet connection. From DSL, to Copper, to Fiber, to Fixed Wireless, there are a variety of broadband technologies to consider when shopping in today’s business marketplace.

When exploring fixed wireless connections, there may be a variety of questions that come to mind. For example, Is fixed wireless reliable? Is fixed wireless affected by weather? Does fixed wireless perform just as well as a wired connection? To answer these questions, let’s first take a step back and ask the foundational question, what is fixed wireless?

what is fixed wireless - geolinks.com

What is Fixed Wireless?

Fixed wireless provides high-speed broadband Internet access to a single location via radio waves. By utilizing antennas, towers, and an express line of sight (LoS) to transmit point-to-point and point-to-multi-point signals, fixed wireless technology can be deployed in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost of terrestrial fiber. Unlike a standard WiFi connection, fixed wireless networks can be directionally focused to produce dedicated speeds of up to 10 Gbps. With the ability to operate over licensed or unlicensed wireless spectrum, when configured correctly the technology can withstand extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain, high winds, and severe temperatures, both hot and cold.

Why has Fixed Wireless Developed a Bad Reputation?

Although trusted and utilized by global militaries and law enforcement for upwards of a century, over the years of perfecting fixed wireless for commercial use, many small carriers deployed inexpensive equipment operating across only one frequency. This caused a multitude of problems, including interference from other links in the surrounding area. The result? A deceiving reputation for being slow, unreliable, and inferior to wired networks.

Another common misconception that has been tagged to the technology is that it is equivalent to satellite Internet. Notoriously known for its high latency, it’s important to note that satellite Internet operates by transmitting signals from a dish to a satellite orbiting more than 20,000 miles above sea level. This is drastically different than a 20 mile point-to-point fixed wireless link.

Today’s Commercial High-Speed Fixed Wireless Technology

As with all types of broadband connections, speeds and service will vary from provider to provider. From technical equipment upgrades, to improved and simplified network management through software, commercial fixed wireless networks have advanced over the years. Top that off with the ability to combine and switch between more diversified spectrum links, both licensed and unlicensed, when deployed properly, modern fixed wireless networks can deliver gigabit connection speeds rivaling fiber connections.

weather and fixed wireless - GeoLinks.com

Fixed Wireless and the Weather

When we think of our Internet connection transmitting data wirelessly, the effects of weather can be a natural concern. Thus, it’s no surprise why fixed wireless providers are often asked, “Does weather affect fixed wireless?”

The answer? Yes, it can – and that is one of the primary reasons the technology gets overlooked. However, with informed engineering and experience, fixed wireless networks can be unaffected by weather. For example, before building out any wireless network, GeoLinks’ in-house engineering team first looks at an area’s terrain, historic weather patterns, rain fade, and thermal ducting. Then, based on the data collected, and considering the distance of the shot and required bandwidth, they choose the best frequency or frequencies and carrier-grade equipment for that specific region and build. Creating multiple failover paths, every GeoLinks network eventually connects to a fiber optic backbone to ensure true network redundancy. The result? A stable high-speed fixed wireless network designed to withstand the elements.

GeoLinks Case Studies – Proof of Concept

Does weather affect fixed wireless? GeoLInks.com

Multi-site Location:

A great case study to prove the potential of a well-constructed fixed wireless network is GeoLinks’ project with a global coffee distributor. In 2016, the distributor was slated to open a series of new locations in Southern California in just 20 days and needed more than 30 circuits to support both their public Wi-Fi and POS systems. The company initially contracted to provide a terrestrial connection was projecting massive delays and restrictions of available bandwidth. In order to meet their quickly approaching deadlines, the company looked to contract an outside local provider to administer a temporary solution–enter GeoLinks.

GeoLinks successfully delivered more than 30 redundant circuits to all of the new store locations in just 14 days, enabling the stores to open as planned.

Although originally hired to serve as a temporary backup solution until their copper network could be installed, with the promise of further delays and all locations running seamlessly on GeoLinks’ ClearFiber™ network, the distributor canceled their copper installations all together and made GeoLinks their primary provider.

Furthermore, Southern California was hit with a massive storm in the Spring of 2017 causing outages across the state. California’s poor irrigation caused underground reservoirs to flood for nearly two weeks straight. As terrestrial cables live underground, many of the client’s pre-existing locations operating on copper experienced ample outages and downtime. All of their ClearFiber™ locations, on the other hand, remained unaffected and avoided any outages or downtime.

Catalina Island - Does weather affect fixed wireless? GeoLInks.com

Santa Catalina Island:

Santa Catalina Island is located more than 20 miles off the coast of California, consequently making it an ongoing problem to secure reliable high speed Internet access. Before 2016, the majority of island residents were forced to live with either using an unreliable satellite or cellular connection or simply having no access whatsoever. At one point in time, the island commissioned an outside network builder to try and deliver a fixed wireless connection that would solve this problem. Unfortunately, however, the design was dramatically impacted by weather and atmospheric ducting causing consistent drops, outages, packet loss, and high latency. All in all, island residents and businesses were still left with an unsustainable network.

In 2016, GeoLinks was brought in by an affiliate partner to design a custom solution that would deliver Catalina its first ever reliable and redundant multi-gigabit network. By understanding the inherent issues of thermal ducting and rain fade, and by examining weather 50 years of weather patterns, the GeoLinks team, lead by CTO, Ryan Hauf and CEO Skyler Ditchfield, were able to conceptualize an innovative network design in under two weeks’ time.

Having ample tower coverage supported by fiberoptic backbones throughout Southern California, GeoLinks’ team of expert engineers were able to construct a fully redundant network in just 60 days. By using multiple paths over various frequencies to deliver long-haul middle mile, the network was built to seamlessly failover when rain or packet loss was detected, preventing the island from ever experiencing a perceived outage.

GeoLinks – The Best Fixed Wireless Internet Provider

So, let’s answer our initial questions. When engineered properly, fixed wireless is a reliable technology that can withstand extreme weather conditions and perform equal, if not better than, a wired connection. With innovative companies like GeoLinks building businesses and anchor institutions multi-gigabit networks that guarantee ultra-low latency, virtually no jitter, 99.999% uptime, fixed wireless may very well be the best Internet solution for your business.

Not sure if you’re within the GeoLinks coverage area? Inquire here.

 

Check out: Disaster Recovery Plan – The Only Way to Ensure Business Continuity

 

California ISP Connects Isolated Areas with Fixed Wireless Broadband

Original Article

Mimosa Networks, the provider of 5G Fixed wireless solutions, has announced that it is teaming with GeoLinks, a California-based communications service provider, on a number of statewide projects to revolutionize internet access at underserved government, educational, and healthcare organizations, the company said.

GeoLinks, named one of America´s fastest growing companies by Inc. Magazine, is connecting these previously unreached organizations by providing ultra-reliable, fiber-fast broadband throughout the state of California and beyond, using pioneering wireless broadband technology from Mimosa.

On Catalina Island, for example, GeoLinks successfully deployed Mimosa´s fiber-fast broadband solutions to bring high-speed internet access to the island community for the first time in its history.

Taking into account the unique location — 41 miles offshore — and leveraging the existing infrastructure, a team of engineers considered a number of advanced options to tackle the challenge of connecting the island to the mainland. GeoLinks ultimately selected Mimosa for the last mile of the installation, deploying Mimosa A5 access and C5 client devices throughout the harbor town of Avalon.

Speeds on the island are typically 300 Mbps, and the ultra-fast broadband connection provides support for essential communications services, tourism services, and commerce.

Back on the mainland, GeoLinks is actively addressing one of the state´s most critical infrastructure needs — connecting rural schools to the internet. In order to help these schools provide the highest and most advanced educational services to their students, GeoLinks again turned to Mimosa solutions to reach these hard-to-reach customers. Thanks to Mimosa´s ease of use, reliable performance and Gigabit-plus connectivity, Geolinks will be continuing its rapid deployment to rural school customers.

Mimosa Networks is the provider of next-generation, Hybrid Fiber-Wireless fixed access broadband solutions. Founded in 2012, Mimosa is based in Silicon Valley and deployed in over 130 countries worldwide.

Can Fixed Wireless Fix Rural Broadband?

Original Article

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a telco, a cable company or a software giant with designs on the ISP market, everyone is hoping that new wireless solutions will cut the cost of providing broadband to large sections of the country. The big question is: How much juice does new wireless tech actually have? And is it enough to make rural broadband deployments cost effective?

Service provider GeoLinks and technology vendor Mimosa Networks Inc. , two partners on the fixed wireless frontier, are very bullish on the technology’s promise. How bullish? In working with the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB), GeoLinks CEO Skyler Ditchfield says he believes fixed wireless technology can be used to reduce the amount of money needed to connect underserved anchor institutions across the US by up to 70%. That could go a long way to helping close the digital divide, and it could even kick off new competition in some markets where service providers traditionally haven’t cared to venture.

“[We’re] working on doing the cost analysis on doing fixed wireless instead of fiber,” says Ditchfield, referring to a program SHLB is working on to get federal funds for rural broadband deployments. “We think we can probably reduce the total cost in the build ask by about 65% to 70%.”

As partners, GeoLinks and Mimosa have experience in delivering broadband to far-flung places. For example, Ditchfield notes that GeoLinks has built out service to a couple of dozen rural schools in the last 18 months, and that many of these deployments rely on solar- and wind-powered telecom relay stations with wireless links that range from 25 to 58 miles.

“These were schools that weren’t able to complete state testing. The students were being bussed out because they had to go do the state testing at another facility and that’s obviously very costly and time consuming,” says Ditchfield. “So we were able to come in and solve that geographical issue with fixed wireless.”

Ditchfield also recalls a recent deployment where an island off the coast of California needed help to improve the reliability of local Internet. In that case, the issue wasn’t so much the distance the wireless signal had to travel, but the fact that, in order to provide backhaul capacity for the island’s Internet service, the signal had to reach across water from the mainland. Unfortunately, the effects of temperature and air pressure caused the signal to bounce and bend off the water in unexpected ways, disrupting connectivity on a daily basis.

“If you’re looking on a hot day down the road and you’re looking at a distance and you see those heat waves where the light starts to bend a little bit, that mirage effect, that’s basically what’s happening with the radio frequency signals as well,” explains Ditchfield.

GeoLinks and Mimosa solved the issue by dropping wireless equipment to two separate locations on the island, with a fiber run in between, and creating redundancy to counter the interference. Now when one link goes down, the local ISP fails over to the second link.

For future fixed wireless broadband expansion, there is still the issue of finding enough available spectrum to meet bandwidth demand. However, the good news is that companies that are providing fixed wireless services don’t necessarily need to compete with mobile providers for some of the most coveted spectrum real estate. Mimosa Chief Product Officer Jaime Fink and others are lobbying the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to open up more mid-band spectrum, and Fink says that while frequencies in the 3.7GHz band aren’t ideal for mobile services, they are a viable option for fixed wireless connections.

The FCC issued a Notice of Inquiry to study opportunities for mid-band spectrum in July.

“Mimosa has been extremely aggressive with the FCC,” says Fink, noting that the company has put together a Broadband Access Coalition that includes members such as GeoLinks, Cincinnati Bell Inc. (NYSE: CBB) and others. The coalition, as he explains it, is “really pushing the envelope of how fast can we share the 3.7GHz spectrum. It’s really perfect for fixed wireless applications. It’s not something that would be typically used by mobile guys out in rural areas especially so we’re trying to really advance access to that band for multipoint as soon as possible.”

TV white spaces, the spectrum encompassed by the guard bands around older analog television stations, offer another possible alternative. Microsoft Corp.(Nasdaq: MSFT) is pushing heavily for white spaces development as part of a $10 billion rural broadband project and Ditchfield sees the company as a potential partner for GeoLinks down the road. (See Microsoft Pushes White Spaces for Rural Broadband .)

There’s long been a question of whether fixed wireless service will eventually be a cable killer, ending cable’s long dominance of the home broadband sector. Even beyond rural markets, if fixed wireless technology can cut the cost of deployments and still deliver high-speed Internet, it has the potential to radically shift market dynamics.

However, even if wireless technology becomes the preferred solution for last-mile broadband delivery in the future, it won’t negate the need for wired backhaul. Fink points out that even though wireless links can span 50 miles and beyond, the more common scenario is to have a fiber connection within five miles or so of end users in order to support fixed wireless service.

The logical conclusion is that broadband going forward will be a mix of wired and wireless technologies. That’s why cable ISP Charter Communications Inc. is running 5G fixed wireless trials, and why Google Fiber Inc. is considering fixed wireless solutions in conjunction with existing fiber-to-the-home deployments. (See Charter Reveals New Details on 4G/5G Trials and Google Fiber Now a Wireless ISP!.)

Fixed wireless isn’t likely to kill cable, nor to let telcos off the hook for fiber. But it could still open up a lot more opportunity for broadband expansion and specifically for reaching unserved and underserved rural communities across the country.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading