[LINK] The Next Broadband Challenge: Wireless

George Bray georgebray at gmail.com
Wed Feb 23 23:08:49 AEDT 2011


This paper considers the value propositions put forward by proponents
of a wireless-only network, and that of a fibre and wireless network.
It is written with the recent USA declaration of nationwide wireless
broadband in mind, though the authors are well versed in the
Australian NBN situation. They challenge the view that advanced
applications might evolve in the future requiring fibre, reasoning
that if people only expect today's applications then wireless will
probably suit them well.

For me, it's all about what choices these nations (US, CA, AU) have
available to them. The justification of any technology must be seen in
the light of the terrain and population to service, as well as the
ability to spend the money. The US has chosen a slow, ubiquitous
wireless network for their future. Australia has chosen a (mostly)
fibre to the premis network.  The difference is the NBN lets all of
Australia take part in "super-fast" services and all the unknown
future that may bring for 30 years. A wireless-only network may suit
the USA's current telecommunications situation and budget. Australia
chose fibre to suit its (broken) telecommunications situation, our
budget, and the population to terrain issues here.

I guess the justification the authors seek for fibre will be born as
the network rolls out and the new applications are built. Until there
is "proof" that there is superior functionality due to the increased
bandwidth and better latency of fibre, we'll have speculation that
wireless-only or mobile networks are capable enough for our long-term
future. Comparing long-term broadband strategies for nations is a
valuable exercise that should encompass not only what the punters know
what can be delivered today, but also what can be achieved in the
future without the crankyness of an unreliable, congested network.

George Bray

PS - The format of this paper is one that can be picked over for
soundbites that look great out of context to support a particular
view. Consider the whole thing before quoting.


Is fiber optics to virtually all homes a sensible policy goal? Perhaps
not. At least, so
argue Professors Middleton and Given, who suggest that, although wireless
broadband may not be as fast as fiber, its adoption will be more rapid
because it
offers other attractive characteristics.  Mobile broadband may have a
effect on the overall broadband market, making fiber to the home less
attractive. If
this is so, should universal service obligations be extended to mobile
And should governments rethink their plans for a ubiquitous fiber optic
infrastructure? Middleton and Given argue that they should.

Journal of Information Policy

The Next Broadband Challenge: Wireless
PDF - http://jip.vmhost.psu.edu/ojs/index.php/jip/article/view/10/5

* Canada Research Chair in Communications Technologies in the
Information Society, Ryerson University.
+ Professor of Media and Communications, Institute for Social
Research, Swinburne University of Technology. This
research was supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research
Council of Canada grant: Developing Next
Generation Broadband Infrastructure: Learning from Australia's
National Broadband Network.

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