Cable is no longer a television revolution. It is a preferred method of wired internet connectivity for residences, with some internet service providers (ISPs) expanding their offerings into cable packages as business solutions. Now, fixed wireless has come to the forefront. Fixed wireless ISPs typically offer customized business solutions based on bandwidth requirements.
Overview of Cable Internet
Cable internet, a form of broadband internet, uses the same infrastructure as cable television. The name comes from the coaxial cable that connects to a user’s modem and to a cable modem termination system (CMTS) at the operator’s facility. The cable itself is analog, so the wire provides cable TV to the end user.
The similarity ends there. A television signal acts as a one-way connection while a cable internet connection must have a way to transmit data back and forth, also known as two-way data transmission. When transmitting the data, a user’s modem must decode incoming signals. While that occurs, the provider’s CMTS takes care of the data that goes in the opposite direction.
Fixed wireless does not use the same infrastructure as cable. Instead, fixed wireless works by sending signals from a transmitter radio, or Point of Presence (PoP) to a different receiver radio that is housed at another fixed location. As the name implies, wires are not involved. However, for the connection to work, there must be a clear path between radios.
Now that we have a basic overview of each connectivity method, it is time to evaluate the two.
Setup and Maintenance of Cable and Fixed Wireless
Cable and fixed wireless follow simple installation processes. For cable, a user only needs to add a modem to the standard setup. For fixed wireless, a user may need to install a receiver dish on the used property. Once the receiver is set, the ISP then gains the ability to adjust the transmitter radio, which gets the connection working.
When using fixed wireless, the ISP has the option to scale up the needed bandwidth, allowing it to adapt and change with any business needs. When using cable, a business typically asks for an upgrade. This results in the need for the company to negotiate a new fixed-term agreement with the cable provider.
A fixed wireless connection offers speeds of up to 1 Gbps while providing synchronous bandwidth speeds. Why does this matter? Because it allows better circuit configurations. This means people can configure circuits so their upload speeds match the download ones. This point should not be overlooked because businesses have increased their use of cloud-based applications.
While some cable services say they offer up to 1 Gbps, it remains murky if the technology can withstand those speeds. On average, cable providers offer business customers download speeds in the range of 16 to 100 Mbps and upload speeds of 1.5 to 5 Mbps.
A Look at Reliability and Access
No one really disputes the notion that cable is a reliable internet solution where the service part comes through a wire instead of a satellite signal. However, a limitation comes into play with bandwidth. Because cable is a shared bandwidth solution, all subscribers within a certain radius share all the open bandwidth. If there are too many users and not enough bandwidth, the heavy usage results in slower data speeds.
Fixed wireless directly counters this dilemma. It offers a dedicated connection and agreed-upon speed. If a user signed an agreement for 25 Mbps, that user must receive that speed. The speed is fixed as the name implies, so users know the exact speed, which can never be an “up to” speed. Fixed wireless simply removes any language that may leave data speeds vague or open to interpretation.
Cable internet is easy to find in residential areas because of cable television. However, the same cannot be said for a business. If a business does not have access to cable TV, then it does not have the ability to tap into cable internet either.
This lack of access helped open the way for fixed wireless to become more popular. Also, because of the lack of wires, rural homes and businesses have perhaps a more viable internet option with fixed wireless. However, as more people realized the value of high-speed wireless solutions to remain connected, so did providers who built and offered more networks in most major cities.
It seems logical to conclude that a fixed wireless ISP does operate in many areas. What stands in the way is this – a reliable connection. To achieve the reliable fixed internet connection, there must be a clear pathway between a transmitter and receiver radio.
Cost for cable internet depends on many factors. Everything from bundles to corporate discounts may affect the rate. A typical range of cable internet prices is from $30 to over $100 per month, not including the installation fee. Users who feel comfortable setting up cable internet themselves can usually avoid the fee. Furthermore, some users may take advantage of a promotion to receive a discounted rate for a specific period of time, usually one or two years, while others opt for a set speed to lock in a rate that the ISP cannot later change, with the exception of the tax amount.
Users should be wary of rock-bottom internet prices. While a low price point sounds like a deal, users need to first think about their overall usage and what kind of speed is needed to perform tasks. Additionally, users should get the real price in writing once the promotional period ends.
Fixed wireless is only slightly more expensive. However, just like cable internet, prices vary based on different factors like bandwidth speed. Users will pay more for quicker speeds.
Fixed wireless does hold a clear advantage over cable internet when it comes to price. Because more users will need to subscribe to a network, the provider may move around cost. Once more users subscribe, the provider has the ability to transfer reduced equipment costs, which results in savings for the users.
Simply put, cable is what most people are familiar with – it is a lower-cost, slower solution, but more available than fixed wireless. In contrast, fixed wireless is a bit more expensive and not as well known. However, fixed wireless uses a dedicated connection, offers synchronous speeds and gives businesses greater flexibility.
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