HOOD RIVER, Ore. � �Covering distance by radio has always been less expensive than laying wire, and nowhere is this more true than in rural areas,� writes Peter Rysavy, in a recent piece in Fierce Wireless. I think most of us in the business would call that a �truism.� Rysavy�s opinions and knowledge are worth considering. (A spokesperson for the Wireless ISP Association � WISPA � estimates that a wireless connection to a rural endpoint costs one-fifth to one-tenth of a wireline connection.)
Rysavy also asserts that advanced versions of 4G LTE and later 5G wireless technologies �will not only displace many wireline endpoints in dense population areas, but also in low population density areas, including rural areas.� Rural wireless throughput rates of 25 Mbps are typical today, but there are �technology roadmaps showing rates as high as 200 Mbps in the near future.�
For both the WISPs and end users, 5G will reduce costs in the near future for these reasons: the global mass commoditization of cellular technology; the ability to use spectrum all the way from UHF to the millimeter wavelengths; and shared spectrum in the Citizen�s Broadband Radio Service. In the same article, Rysavy writes �in urban areas, depending on desired capacity, 5G networks using small cells and millimeter radio channels will need between 10 and 100 base stations per square kilometer. Clearly, such dense deployments will be impossible in rural areas. Instead, sub-6 GHz frequencies enable cells that have multimile range, resulting in much less dense and therefore practical networks. Many WISPs today use unlicensed 5 GHz radio channels, but [use of] 3.65 GHz 4×4 MIMO is typical for service based on LTE technology, but higher-order MIMO, and eventually massive MIMO, will boost capacity and ranges further.�
This technology falls under the category of �fixed wireless access� which we cover a lot in Radio magazine Today. It provides a means by which people can access higher-speed internet connectivity in their homes.
One note: �MIMO� means �multiple input, multiple output.� It�s an antenna technology described in multiple places, but the one I found most useful is here.