Wireless access: Fixed! Unleashing gigabit coverage for all

Delivering gigabit connectivity to dense urban areas and remote rural locations isn't easy. Here's how to tackle the key challenges.
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Fiber is being deployed everywhere and is the future-proof solution on everyone’s mind. Large public investments are being driven by initiatives like the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) and the European Electronics Communications Code (EECC), and private equity investments. The shared goal remains access to fiber and gigabit services.

Yet, actual implementations of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) in rural areas and dense urban locations prove difficult. Taking fiber to rural communities costs a tremendous amount for little return in terms of average revenue per user. Urban areas suffer from physical obstacles such as roadways, rivers, or railroads, adding cost to an already expensive proposition. In addition, labor shortages and supply chain issues have led to a market ripe with demand but short on supply.

Can I Use Fixed Wireless for Gigabit Services? It may not be ideal.

Fixed wireless solutions have long been the staple for rural broadband, but bandwidth has been limited. Unlicensed 60GHz millimeter wave (mmWave) fixed wireless offers multi-gigabit backhaul and access and has now emerged as the ideal complement to extending fiber-like gigabit service. However, 60GHz technology has challenges, including limited range, required line-of-sight between nodes, and atmospheric conditions like O2 absorption.

The market needs a solution that delivers gigabit service while minimizing obstacles. An ideal solution would:

  • Offer maximum reach, ideally limiting the number of necessary mesh nodes required
  • Provide reliable performance, including a reduction in interference and be self-healing
  • Offer quick implementation and ease of ongoing operation
  • Include full remote management, reducing operating expense and truck rolls
  • Support multiple applications and use cases from one solution, minimizing SKUs for operators

Alternate Solutions: A Business Case for Delivering Gigabit Wireless

Adtran’s next-generation Metnet 60G solution bridges the gap left by fiber and traditional fixed wireless access (FWA). It is the industry’s first self-organizing mesh mmWave solution to complement FTTH with a rapid deployment option for hard-to-reach communities. The Adtran Metnet 60G solution provides a cost-effective path to deliver wireless gigabit services from dense urban to underserved rural markets. One or more mesh nodes can connect to the fiber network and autonomously form multi-gigabit mesh backhaul links to neighboring nodes to create a mesh FWA network.

Each node can be installed in 30 minutes or less. When combined with the Metnet 60G CPE, the reach can be extended to one-third of a mile (600 m), serving up to 120 clients from a single node. In addition, six V band channels (57GHz - 71GHz) offer channels (5 and 6) immune from oxygen absorption, ensuring extended reach for easier broadband connectivity.

Proof of Concept: Wireless Solutions in Action:

  1. Dense Urban Communities With Building and Zoning Challenges 
    Service providers considering FTTH rollouts in dense urban communities must work around zoning restrictions on trenching and/or damage to buildings and facades. Likewise, fixed wireless solutions may encounter large amounts of interference from moving vehicles or other wireless networks. Adtran implemented the Metnet 60GHz mesh mmWave node in a dense, urban community. With a single fiber-fed node and 10 subtending mesh nodes, multi-gigabit broadband is provided to a 35 Km2 area across six city blocks. Interference is managed through self-optimization, and traffic is protected with automatic rerouting, avoiding service interruption. Additionally, it was installed while avoiding any zoning or facade damage.
  2. Rural Areas With Lack of Infrastructure and Tough Terrain
    The Metnet 60G solution provides broadband connectivity to hundreds of subscribers without rural operators managing the cost of complicated infrastructure installation and management. Each Metnet 60GHz mesh mmWave node can be installed by a non-skilled technician in under 30 minutes. The nodes self-organize and self-optimize to form a high-capacity mesh network. In the case of a node failure, the self-healing network limits impact by rehoming nodes and rerouting traffic - minimizing subscriber impact and downtime. This carrier-grade solution reduces labor costs and improves the operator-customer relationship.
    ABC Communications in Canada implemented the Metnet 60G solution in Clinton, BC. This area was served by an LTE-based FWA offering only 50 Mbps of connectivity. With increased customer demand, ABC Communications sought the Adtran solution to provide a high-speed broadband service while avoiding the costly overhead of a fiber rollout. With this success, ABC Communications has plans to grow its business with the Adtran solution (read the full story here).
  3. Reliable Campus Solutions for Enterprises and Education
    Businesses and school campuses require cost-effective, reliable, scalable broadband solutions that deliver gigabit connectivity s. This challenge is met by the Adtran Metnet 60GHz mesh mmWave solution. A Metnet fiber mesh node and/or CPE may be installed to offer fiber extension without the cost and time necessary to lay fiber. The Metnet 60G Mesh solution can be used to expand the LAN to additional buildings with less than a 30-minute install. At the Adtran corporate headquarters in Huntsville, AL, the Metnet 60G solution is deployed across three buildings crossing a pond quarter-of-a-mile wide. With MetNet 60Ghz Mesh solution, our staff was able to continue developing solutions without any hindrance or costly overhead.

Learn more about our fixed wireless access solutions and begin building your broadband network here.

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