Fiber For Our Future supporting Tri-City Broadband for Batavia, Geneva, and St. Charles, Illinois

Citizens of Batavia, Geneva, and St. Charles Illinois
in support of Municipal Broadband
for our Communities

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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 customers.
  • 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 data transmission.

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