When discussing wireless solutions, it is important to distinguish
between frequencies that are licensed by the FCC and those that
are not. Most of the wireless solutions marketed by smaller and
medium-size companies use unlicensed frequencies. While an unlicensed
frequency can meet the needs of many people, it is not appropriate
as a broad solution such as the one being considered by the Tri-Cities.
A primary concern is that there is no control over the number of
devices that share an unlicensed environment. Devices that share
these frequencies can be installed anywhere by anyone with no regulation
and no recourse for interference (think about the old party line
telephones). Thus, it may be very difficult for people to truly
depend on this service for business or other important applications.
Licensed frequencies provide the probability of more stability
than unlicensed frequencies; however, this stability comes at a
high price. The Federal Communications Commission auctions the limited
number of licensed frequencies. Generally, the companies that purchase
these frequencies are large satellite companies, and the frequencies
are used for mobile phone companies. And you know how many dropped
calls and crowded circuits the mobile phone customers have to deal
with. Even these companies, however, are subject to mergers, acquisitions,
bankruptcies and instability.
Unlicensed wireless technology is currently being used successfully
for Internet service, but it is not viewed as a viable or adequate
replacement for video or telephonic technology for a number of reasons:
- Analog cable television is not available with unlicensed wireless
(Ex. local channels 2, 5, 7, 9, 32, etc.)
- Only one or two high quality digital cable television channels
can be offered at a time vs. hundreds of channels with fiber.
- Wireless is not impervious to eavesdropping or interference
from other devices, and performance is affected by distance, additional
subscribers and line of sight.
- High Definition Television (HDTV) is not available with wireless.
- Wireless is incapable of high quality Video on Demand for multiple
- Many businesses have security requirements that would make it
impossible for them to use wireless technology. For example, hospitals,
clinics and doctors' offices are prohibited by HIPAA regulations
from using a wireless connection to the Internet.
Although technology is always changing, the potential for higher
future wireless performance is limited. It may scale up from 128
Kbps to 1 Gigabyte per second (Gbps) in the future if restrictions
on frequencies are lifted, but there is currently no known timeline
or cost structure for that. In comparison, FTTH/FTTB can offer a
full range of analog and digital cable television capabilities,
HDTV, privacy from eavesdropping, imperviousness to interference,
Video on Demand for multiple-customers, and availability of 10 Gbps