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Fixed Wireless Internet: How it Works

A fixed wireless tower powered by 5G.

The way homes and businesses connect to the Internet across the United States is more diverse than you may think. There are many methods of connecting to the world wide web, and one of the most exciting methods is known as fixed wireless. Instead of using a wire or a cable to connect your home or business to an Internet service provider (ISP), fixed wireless Internet is as the name suggests, a wireless connection to the Internet. 

Until now, this technology has served an important purpose for many areas of the U.S. where other forms of Internet connectivity may be non-existent; however, there can still be some issues with fixed wireless and how it performs. The emergence of 5G is changing the way fixed wireless operates and boosting the technology beyond what many would believe to be imaginable today. DISH Wireless is playing a major role in this revolutionary approach by creating an innovative, open 5G network with a sharp focus on the fixed wireless marketplace. 

Fixed wireless will benefit consumers in several ways including urbanized centers filled with “futuristic” features including interactive maps presented through augmented reality (AR) and personalized home network solutions surpassing current download speeds. The future of fixed wireless Internet is beginning today and shaping a more advanced tomorrow in ways that seemed impossible only a few years ago.

Fixed Wireless Internet in Action

The concept of fixed wireless is simple. A basic way of looking at things is to note that a signal is sent from a wireless tower to another tower fixed on a home, building, or another surface, and that is how those devices connect online. This is an alternative to connecting via wire such as cable or fiber.

A huge benefit of this technology is that the transmission of data occurs within Earth. Another popular method of wireless communication is via satellite, but there can be serious latency issues and much slower speeds because the signal must travel from your device through your router and antenna to a satellite in space, shot back down to your ISP’s antenna on Earth and then forced to reverse the entire track yet again.

That’s a lot of traveling even for something as simple as checking your email or social accounts. Fixed wireless can help produce higher speeds and lower latency because it doesn’t require its signal to travel through such a rigorous route. This reduction in distance will reduce latency by more than 50% of the current levels seen in 4G LTE.

The latest in technology, 5G, will bring advancements to fixed wireless that we will see benefit our lives and society as a whole through reduced latency and higher download speeds. These two things alone usher in a whole new world of possibilities that are better than just faster Internet. 

Understanding How 5G is Enhancing Fixed Wireless Internet

5G is here and is ready to bring fixed wireless to the next level, but we still have a ways to go to get the most out of these wireless technologies. One of the most important things to remember is that 5G is a multi-year rollout that will be approached differently by different companies due to a variety of reasons, most of them surrounding one main reason: 5G operates on different tiers of spectrum.

Three different tiers provide 5G a platform in which to operate: low-band, mid-band, high-band (mmWave). Each tier serves its purpose and networks will look to implement all of these tiers through a multi-band strategy when it’s all said and done; however, this will take time, and understanding what the different tiers provide is important:

  • Low-band is great for traveling farther distances but will not deliver that “blazing fast” hyped 5G speed, but users will experience faster speeds than they’ve got with 4G. Low-band will be frequently used in more rural areas to blanket more areas with 5G coverage.  
  • Mid-band is the tier that provides balance. It may travel a shorter distance than low-band but you will begin to find much faster speeds here for a much more “5G” feel. You’ll likely see mid-band usage in suburban and some metro areas. 
  • High-band (mmWave) is where the fastest speeds in 5G can be found. Unfortunately, it cannot travel far and in its current state, it cannot even travel through walls. High-band is best suited for densely populated areas such as metro cities (like NYC) and places such as concert venues, sports arenas, or office buildings. 

As these tiers continue to grow, it will allow for better fixed wireless coverage at faster speeds and unleashing more capabilities. DISH Wireless will use versatile spectrum, the practice of combining all three tiers for a comprehensive 5G network, to power fixed wireless in the most complete manner possible. This, however, will only become fully recognized by overcoming the issues of not only 5G but the issues found in present fixed wireless networks.

Fixed wireless in its present form has two major issues: 

  1. The inability to send data at the same rate as wired connections such as fiber.
  2. Higher than desired latency.

These are issues that have plagued wireless communications of all sorts for decades and rightfully so. It is difficult enough to send data through the air and to do so at the astounding speeds we see possible on fiber or cable connections is a tall order, but due to the ingenious coding and frequency usage of 5G, we are seeing the impossible become possible before our eyes.

The speed consumers can expect to see when using 5G can easily double if not triple the national average for home broadband in the United States. Download speeds of 400 Mbps will begin to become the new norm, and data transfers that are in the palm of our hands via our favorite smart devices will feel even more effortless than they do now.

5G is changing the way we send data through an increase in speed, but latency is another issue it continues to tackle. 4G created a world in which latency issues were reduced to a remarkable 20-30 milliseconds, but 5G is working on reducing that number to under 10 milliseconds with ~1 millisecond in play for best-case scenarios according to Raconteur. This is important because lower latency opens up an entirely new range of possible applications as actions can be performed in real-time. These applications can include complex engineering and medical procedures performed from remote locations, autonomous vehicles capable of driving unmanned while using an efficient route without incident and even enhanced entertainment options through richer virtual reality (VR) experiences.

How Fixed Wireless and 5G Will be Applied in Our Lives

The applications that 5G powered fixed wireless is bringing to our lives are exciting, to say the least. There are a couple of different applications and plenty of overlap between enterprise usage and consumer, but two of the most exciting involve faster, more accessible Internet connectivity and an expansion of the capabilities involving the Internet of Things (IoT).

Homes and businesses will both benefit from the next wave of fixed wireless, particularly those in rural markets where Internet connectivity options are limited. This will allow businesses to also grow in areas that may not have been ideal due to the lack of connectivity in an ever-increasing digital world. Faster download speed available without many of the geographical restraints seen today will fuel enterprise further but also help homes that are reliant on wireless Internet connections such as satellite or current fixed wireless which may be less-favorable for certain uses such as online gaming or supporting multiple streaming devices at once.

Enterprises, and homes alike, will also see to it that the IoT continues to grow and fixed wireless will be capable of taking these functions to the next level due to lower latency levels and the advancements that higher data transfer will bring to artificial intelligence (AI). The IoT movement is in basic terms the idea of various devices working independently and together through wireless connections. An easy example would be a digital assistant such as Alexa working with your Nest thermostat in your home. A more advanced application would be self-driving cars working to communicate with each other while avoiding wrecks with themselves and pedestrians through a street filled with stoplights and other traffic signals all communicating to one another for a more efficient stream of traffic.

The IoT is a massive improvement in various aspects that will provide businesses with new products, methods, services, and more. Consumers will benefit from many of these solutions and some will simply become integrated into our lives for a better tomorrow. Take a look at some of the exciting applications that fixed wireless will help the IoT manage thanks to the power of 5G:

  • Enhanced AI for better machine learning (ex. self-driving cars).
  • Automation for many different functions including factories capable of operating with little to no human input. This includes working to fix problems among machines in real-time and adjustments on-the-fly. Ironically, automation will even help empower the process of automation further as well.
  • Advanced medical applications including remote surgeries from doctors incapable of reaching a patient.
  • Increased functions for smart home devices.
  • Fixed wireless with 5G will take AR and VR to the next level and unleash better ways to conduct training or navigate cities/campuses.

These are but a few of the early advancements fixed wireless and 5G are prepared to provide as the latest generation of wireless begins to take shape.

DISH Wireless is Disrupting the Fixed Wireless Industry

DISH Wireless is here and is positioning itself to provide much more than cell phone coverage with huge plans for providing fixed wireless solutions. Building a 5G network is no easy task, but DISH Wireless has hit the ground running through several moves including its entry into the O-RAN Alliance, striking deals with multiple vendors, and building a cloud-native, nationwide standalone (SA) 5G network from the ground up.

Unlike many other networks, the containerized, cloud-native model that DISH Wireless is pushing will allow a more collaborative, innovative approach to 5G instead of improving an existing network. The result is a faster network with unique network solutions including the ability to provide enterprises and other entities with personalized network solutions through network slicing. By providing organizations with end-to-end network solutions on an innovative network capable of adjusting to market trends through dynamic pricing, DISH Wireless is ready to disrupt the way fixed wireless is delivered throughout the United States.

Be sure to follow along as we continue to watch how DISH Wireless unfolds before our eyes and creates industry-changing 5G and fixed wireless solutions for a better tomorrow.

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