Get Ready for Wireless Cable Broadband

Ireland-based Digiweb has started using a Wireless DOCSIS 2.0 technology, that allows consumers to get broadband at 3Mbps download and 512Kbps upload. The company is also bundling free (VoIP) phone number and a phone line with this package that is available in Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Dundalk.

Metro technology effectively addresses what has been missing in Ireland to date – genuine telecommunications platform competition. Digiweb has been engaged in research and development of Metro for over a year, combining leading technologies and protocols from the Wireless and Cable Modem industries. Metro is Ireland’s most extensive DOCSIS 2.0 cable modem system delivered on one of the most advanced licensed wireless platforms available today.

Consumers can opt for higher speeds – 4Mbps service with 1Mbps upload or 6Mbps download, 2Mbps upload – if they are willing to pay a premium. The company is also planning to launch a full Digital TV service and home security range using the same platform during 2006. This is one of the first large scale commercial wireless DOCSIS deployment. Several smaller US cable operators are also experimenting with this technology. Arris, a Cable-equipment maker, for instance has been conducting trials with Sterling Cable in San Angelo, Texas. They are using the 700 MHz and 2.5 GHz licensed frequency bands.

Last week, Scientific-Atlanta, announced that it is partnering with Tropos Networks to develop cable-specific equipment for Wi-Fi metro mesh networks. Using wireless DOCSIS to back-haul and using Tropos/SA equipment, the cable guys can become players in the wireless hotspot business, and also get into the municipal wireless broadband business. Of course there is the $20-billion a year cellular back-haul business, which could be another area of focus for cable guys.

It’s not hard to spot why cable operators are attracted to the cellular backhaul market. Estimates from several sources, including CTIA-The Wireless Association, put the total market north of $2 billion this year, and that number is expected to grow to as much as $16 billion by 2009. Between now and 2010, the number of cell towers is expected to grow from 175,000 to 260,000, and the average number of T-1 lines feeding these sites will rise from three or four to 10 or 12, notes Chuck Kaplan, Narad Networks’ chief operating officer. About 99 percent of the existing cell towers are served by T-1s, and cost on average about $400 per month, depending on the market. CED Magazine

Right now they are limited to locations where they can take their wires. However, Wireless DOCSIS can make it easier for cable guys to offer cheap T-1 replacements. I wonder by partnering with cable guys, Sprint-Nextel can use their fixed wireless spectrum, lower their back-haul costs, and help improve Sprint’s 3G coverage. Just wondering out aloud.

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