4G versus fixed wireless access

How can netBlazr compete with Verizon’s new LTE network?  Actually, it’s not difficult at all (as I’ll explain below) and yet that question comes up, repeatedly.

The problem is an excess of hype, both LTE hype (e.g. 1 Gbps someday) and mobile operators’ 4G hype, given added credence by Whitehouse policy announcements. Of course 4G will be better than 3G, but the performance of mobile technologies of any generation will always lag that of fixed wireless of the same generation and mobile systems will always be more costly.

The extra cost and reduced performance of mobile systems are inherent because their objectives are different. Mobile systems seek to provide nearly complete coverage. This requires both macro cells for extended coverage and many smaller cells to fill in gaps, for example valleys in the country side and urban canyons in the city. A fixed wireless system need only reach specific fixed customer sites.  What’s more, a wireless ISP can turn down customers that it can’t reach or which would be costly to reach.

In addition, for any particular generation of wireless technology, mobile is inherently more difficult than fixed.  Mobile systems must cope with rapidly changing signal levels when devices are in motion. Handheld mobile devices typically have extremely small antennas and mobile devices have to continue to work while inside buildings or automobiles. Meanwhile a fixed wireless ISP can deploy large antennas at fixed locations, each with a clear line of sight to a base station or relay point.

One additional cost advantage for netBlazr is the cost of wireless sites.  Mobile operators pay thousands of dollars per month for sites on towers and rooftops.  netBlazr leverages members’ office space and shoots radio links through office windows at zero dollars per month.

All-in-all there’s as much as an order of magnitude difference in capacity between our fixed wireless links and the typical 4G mobile wireless link while our costs are several orders of magnitude less.  So yes, we can compete quite nicely, thank you.