rural broadbandAlthough service providers and developers haven’t made much fanfare about it, there has been a lot of activity in the rural broadband wireless area lately, with the Nokia FastMile solution as the latest example. Some see broadband wireless as a serious contender technology as the U.S. struggles with how to make broadband available to all Americans. And while the technology once was the purview of only the smallest rural service providers, that’s beginning to change.

Since the beginning of the year we’ve seen two service providers with ambitious plans come out of stealth mode, including Starry and Infiniti Broadband, joining at least one other company with serious broadband wireless ambitions – Rise Broadband.

Nokia FastMile
At least two major manufacturers – Nokia and Huawei – have begun to tout the new equipment they have developed for the burgeoning broadband wireless market. Nokia calls its new offering FastMile and according to the company, the product uses LTE technology in a fixed configuration, thereby offering “2.5 times the throughput and 12 times the coverage area of comparable mobile networks for residential phone, TV and broadband connections using boosted LTE for the last mile to the home.”

The Nokia FastMile approach allows mobile operators to build on their existing installed bases of macro radio networks and also relies on customer premises equipment that the company said is easy to install.

According to Thorsten Robrect, head of Advanced Mobile Network Solutions for Nokia, “FastMile differentiates from other existing fixed LTE options by offering better spectral efficiency, better reach, easier deployment and full e2e operator control.” In an email to Telecompetitor, Robrect noted that this approach makes “deployment of fixed wireless broadband more lucrative to carriers by enabling a better business case and differentiation in service offering.”

Nokia FastMile has not yet been deployed in North America, Robrect said. He added, however, that “major U.S. carriers have expressed their interest for such a solution.”

Rural Broadband Wireless
Meanwhile Huawei also has developed a new fixed LTE broadband wireless offering that Infiniti Broadband will use. An Infiniti exec told Telecompetitor recently that the technology will give the service provider a “leading edge.”

An offering like FastMile or Huawei’s LTE-based offering also might make sense for companies like AT&T and Verizon that have been quietly selling fixed LTE broadband wireless offerings or making plans to do so.

Rise Broadband, formerly known as JAB Broadband, also said recently that it will be using broadband wireless equipment based on LTE. Back in 2014, a JAB Broadband executive told Telecompetitor the company was consolidating on equipment from either Cambrium or Ubiquiti.

Starry has not revealed its supplier, but says it plans to support service at speeds up to a gigabit per second, suggesting the company will be using something other than an LTE-based offering.

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