ntca1Wireless-based alternatives are not a viable substitute for landline broadband, according to a new report issued this week that was sponsored by NTCA- The Rural Broadband Association and written by Vantage Point Solutions.

Terrestrial wireless networks are considerably more costly on a per-bit basis than wireline networks, the authors argue in the report titled “Wireless Broadband Not a Viable Substitute for Wireline Broadband.”

“Modern wireline networks rarely cost more than $10 per Mbps and often are less than $5 per Mbps, while it is common for a wireless network to cost several hundred dollars per Mbps,” the report notes.

The authors also argue that there is insufficient spectrum available to support widespread use of wireless in place of landline broadband service. Instead, they say, “wireless technologies will not be a replacement for, but rather a complement to wireline broadband technologies.”

The report comes at a time when the FCC is finalizing the parameters of phase two of the Connect America Fund, which will distribute money to large price cap carriers to help cover the cost of bringing broadband to areas where broadband is not available today or is available only at low speeds. Eventually a similar program also may be put in place for smaller rate of return carriers.

The Vantage Point report argues that scarce public funds should be directed to wireline broadband. “It would be short-sighted and expensive if a broadband network required significant upgrades or had to be replaced altogether before the end of its economic life simply because it can no longer meet customers’ broadband demands,” the authors argue.

Wireless Broadband Substitution
Other highlights of the Vantage Point report include:

  • A wireless carrier would need to dedicate its entire spectrum to meet a 100 Mbps symmetrical service target and would need to rely on technologies that are not yet available to bond all of its bands together
  • Already 20%-25% of customers using coaxial or FTTP networks use more than 100 gigabytes of capacity per month. Yet a typical wireless usage cap is between 10 and 30 GB per month.

This isn’t the first time that the NTCA and Vantage Point issued a report pitting landline broadband against another technology. In 2013 the two entities issued a report that provided a similar critique of satellite broadband.

The latest NTCA/ Vantage Point report came out the same day that Heather Gold, president of the Fiber to the Home Council, told Telecompetitor she believed the FCC should require entities getting CAF funding to deploy fiber to the home.

Join the Conversation

8 thoughts on “NTCA: Wireless Broadband Substitution for Landline Not Viable

  1. NTCA is irritated and misinformed. As you read their sponsored report, the old analogy may seem appropriate to you: Upon the advent of the airplane industry, railroads dutifully announced their commitment to rails while failing to understand that their true business was transport.

    NTCA could benefit by having an education from the wireless industry. NTCA has not yet come to realize the socio-economic benefit of co-existent technologies as the essential solution for rural Americans. I hope that wireline providers experience irritation, then pain, then the enlightenment which comes when they understand that fast-deployment creates market share and tall barriers to entry.

  2. Ted we are a small rural provider and have built fiber optic to all the cell sites that are in our serving area. Not only making good money monthly, our customers benefit from good 4G service. Almost all the rural companies I know in the state are doing this. We also build fiber to the home which allows the customer to use all their devices with out worrying about data caps as if they were wireless only. I don't know how much more rural providers can do to push the technology forward?

    1. To answer that one: Have the large incumbents who decided to ignore their promises of FTTH to their geographic area deliver the promise or return all of the cash given to them by the government for these phantom upgrades. ($400 billion plus for sub-par coverage, data caps and fraudulent claims on speed) In 2012 cost it would be $140 billion to connect every home with optical fiber for somebody entering the market like google but the problem comes with the mercantilist policies set by local and state governments via exclusive franchises to bar any actual competition from entering the marketplace which creates an effective monopoly.

      1. Well I think the problem is just that, the big guys. We receive USF for land lines but other than that we don't get any other funding from government and are building out FTTH to about 8-10% of our network a year. Also no data caps. I wonder where they stick all the money?

  3. NTCA is irritated and misinformed. As you read their sponsored report, the old analogy may seem appropriate to you: Upon the advent of the airplane industry, railroads dutifully announced their commitment to rails while failing to understand that their true business was transport.

  4. I don't know nor understand a lot of this stuff but I do know I live in a area (E. Otis, MA.) That probably will not ever have cable tv, high speed internet much anything else. We have been promised 3 years ago we would get internet and still nothing. The only network we can get in our area is Verizon so it leaves us no choice to have our cell phones and wifi through them and yes we pay dearly for it we don't even have smart phones just the old dinasor flip phones and a wifi box we use will over 10 gb and pay 180.00 a month. We have had Hughs and wild Blue dish that didn't work winter it was stuck on snow and ice the fall wind it was out more then on at 85$ a mo. then there dish tv lol same thing off more then on. I thought the gov. of Mass. said everyone would have internet ?

    1. Jean, we are in a similar situation here in Hampton Roads Virginia (non-rural), only in our case Cox Communication won't bring the line 300 feet to our neighborhood of 9 homes because it would not be cost effective to them. They did tell us if we wanted to pay around $90,000 they would oblige. We are on Direct TV (not very effective in situations of weather emergency) and a cell plan that costs us close to $300 per month for 40 GB (college students in the house we need every GB we can get, and often go over!). Very frustrating to see the Internet/cable van across the street, but they won't bring it the little extra to capture 9 new customers. So, all and all, for my household to have basic television and internet we are paying $400.

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