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Wired? WiFi? Competition?
Old 03-10-2014, 08:00 AM   #1
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Wired? WiFi? Competition?

The question comes from a 1 minute news blurb the I watched this AM.
It had to do with an upcoming decision about allowing a merger... for WIFI and Wired internet. (details hazy)May have been FCC, but not sure. This is apparently separate from the internet neutrality issues, lately in the news...
The way the news was presented was that wired and wifi companies would not be allowed to merge so a as to have one corporation be able to decide and control access in a geographic area. Quite different from the content and throttling issues.

Anyway, as a Comcast critic who has no other reasonable choice and terrible service, it sounded as if there could be hope on the horizon, for reasonably priced internet access.
I don't have the technical knowledge to know if wide based linked WIFI is a possibility or in any way reasonable. Have heard about balloon based internet, drone internet, and wider satellite networks. Hope to learn something here (in layman's language).
As I understand it so far, telephone lines are limited, and the idea of powerline access is not feasible.
One of the possibliities that intrigued me was the establishment of a local network... as the kind used in large campgrounds or marinas. We looked at this for our own community, (350 homes) but were stopped by the cost of the local network management.
In any case, hope springs eternal... I am paying for $74/mo for20 MBPS (internet only), and most of the time get 3 to 5MBPS. Complaints don't help, as Comcast points out that the contract states "Network Speeds Not Guaranteed".

Back to the original question... Is it possible that WIFI could compete with the monopoly owned by the single wired line providers?
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Old 03-10-2014, 08:10 AM   #2
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Yes, Verizon is betting on wireless technology replacing wired internet and TV, including their Fios service. Verizon has essentially stopped deploying/investing in Fios because of this.
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Old 03-10-2014, 08:25 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by DFW_M5 View Post
Yes, Verizon is betting on wireless technology replacing wired internet and TV, including their Fios service. Verizon has essentially stopped deploying/investing in Fios because of this.
Yes... fiber optics would require the digging up of America... I guess the question really boils down to whether or not a wireless network would be capable (technically capable) of providing bandwidth sufficient to satisfy the incredible growth of 24/7 connectivity needs of the (daffy) public?

This link is to a an article that helps technically deficient folk, like me... to understand the interrelationship and the limitations of the intenet as it exists today.
Cable TV: The Monopoly That Keeps On Taking - InformationWeek
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Old 03-10-2014, 09:13 AM   #4
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Saw this yesterday: Why is American internet so slow? - The Week
Our basic problem with the Internet is monopolistic markets........
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Old 03-10-2014, 09:16 AM   #5
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Some new technology, unforeseen at this time may upset the current status quo.

For several years I was a customer of the wireless Clearwire. But, their service speed did not keep up with modern needs as it was 'up to' 6 mps and usually about 4 mps down. Upload speed was less than 1 mps. However the service was reliable. Alas, they also raised prices to higher than the the local Fios provider which was much faster. Why they thought people would pay more for less is beyond me.
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Old 03-10-2014, 09:22 AM   #6
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I think the wired vs wireless direction will be driven by a cost issue. It is far cheaper to connect someone wirelessly than via a wired fiber connection. Although it will take quite a while for wireless to replace wired connections, it will happen over time through the use of new internet architecture, and combining cellular, satellite, radio/TV technologies, while most likely there will continue to be some major connections that will remain wired, but it will be a far cry from what we know today.
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Old 03-10-2014, 11:15 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
One of the possibliities that intrigued me was the establishment of a local network... as the kind used in large campgrounds or marinas. We looked at this for our own community, (350 homes) but were stopped by the cost of the local network management.
In any case, hope springs eternal... I am paying for $74/mo for20 MBPS (internet only), and most of the time get 3 to 5MBPS. Complaints don't help, as Comcast points out that the contract states "Network Speeds Not Guaranteed".

Back to the original question... Is it possible that WIFI could compete with the monopoly owned by the single wired line providers?
About your last thought, yes, that battle is being waged now. Wired connections (like Comcast cable) will quickly fade into the background. In some cases that wired connection can deliver great performance, but in situations like yours, there are a few obvious bottlenecks that Comcast sees no reason to troubleshoot for 350 homes. And some of the problem could be in your home. Perhaps you can troubleshoot from your end and tell them what to fix!

My experience has been that until consumers start leaving for the competition (like Verizon FIOS), Comcast will not make significant effort to correct pervasive problems. Like you, I have no alternative. I am in a development of 650 homes. FIOS was supposed to come, but never did (there was some kind of arrangement made between Verizon and Comcast). We have old fiber underground throughout the development. And where the taps are made at each house in a cable pedestal, there is widespread deterioration. We walk a lot through the area, and see many instances of broken and missing housings and connections exposed to the elements. In some cases there is coax cable running from one pedestal to another, and the cable runs across sidewalks, into street, and so on.

I am also looking at alternatives, especially when the last child moves out, and I can possibly get by with a wireless WAN offering.
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Old 03-10-2014, 12:04 PM   #8
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Interestingly with the deployment of white space wireless the deep rural areas may quickly get much better internet. (white space is unused Tv channels, and if you get in the deep rural areas there are few channels that are occupied), Reduces the cost as the TV signals will travel up to a mile or more.
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Old 03-10-2014, 12:22 PM   #9
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At the end of the dot com era I spent time on a proof of concept demo for aerial wireless internet. We stuck an RF pod on Proteus provided by Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites, and while orbiting at ~ 50K facilitated real time video editing between Laser Pacific's Burbank and Hollywood studios.

The idea was instant internet without the need for infrastructure, just a couple airplanes taking turns orbiting the area 24/7. Africa, Mexico city, etc. orbit and go. The demo being in LA made little sense to me as there were perfectly good hills for towers to be placed on in LA. NASA was looking at blimps around this time as platforms too.

Mike Melvill who flew the Proteus for us was also doing some hush hush prep at the time, getting ready for:

A week before Christmas Megacorp request a return to home base for a meeting - to say it has been real, you have a couple weeks to land somewhere or bye bye, dot com bust end of project. F22 folks kept me around a couple months until I lined up the next fun ride. Good Times!

Broadband dot com
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Old 03-10-2014, 12:44 PM   #10
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15 years ago, we had a supplier that provided line-of-sight services to buildings that were not on the grid. I suspect that wide area wifi services will follow a similar model.
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Old 03-10-2014, 12:52 PM   #11
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I'm often out in the weeds, but I'm thinking that 4G data (which is not really WIFI as we think of it) works pretty well for my phone. There's an outfit called FreedomPro that delivers internet access via 4G for your home computer etc.

With "5G" coming someday (faster/better/cheaper) I wonder if the traditional thinking in WIFI will have to bend to a 4-5G world. Guys like ATT/Sprint could sever the cable cord.
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Old 03-10-2014, 04:58 PM   #12
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If this

Is pCell the Holy Grail of wireless networking? | Mobile - CNET News

pans out, it could lead to wireless networking becoming dominant.
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Old 03-10-2014, 05:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Yes... fiber optics would require the digging up of America... I guess the question really boils down to whether or not a wireless network would be capable (technically capable) of providing bandwidth sufficient to satisfy the incredible growth of 24/7 connectivity needs of the (daffy) public?
Executive summary: No

TL ; DR: Wireless internet access effectively puts everyone wanting service from a specific access point on the same data packet network, all subject to the same delays from congestion, algorithmic delays from packet 'collisions' or drops, and the same speed of light delays. Bandwidth from the access point is limited through math and physics by the amount of radio spectrum that can be allocated.

Boring details:
Wireless access points are shared by a number of users. Within a home, the set of users is just the residents and perhaps a few neighbors, with the signal sent over a few hundred feet from the access point. The access point buffers and receives or assembles packets of data for transmission out via a hard-wired network, or locally over the radio link.

The radio link acts just like a local area network with all the users on the same cable or physical link layer. Packets of data are sent over a radio link, and receipt of the packets are acknowledged by a reply packet in some form for reliable data transmissions. The transmissions and acknoledgement packets use some transmission capacity, usually called 'bandwidth', that describes the maximum rate data can be sent or received. The upper bound on the data transmission rate is set by mathematics and physics for a given communications channel, through the Shannon-Hartley theorem and the FCC allocation of radio spectrum for transmission. No, unlike with a wired connection, you can't have the entire spectrum for data transmission. There are other users (PDF).

Packets that are not acknowledged are re-transmitted, which uses up some additional bandwidth. Devices that are farther from the access point will both receive and send weaker signals, which are more susceptible to transmission error, and will incur higher retransmission rates that affect all users of the access point.

A transmission window, based on both the receiver response time and the expected speed-of-light delay in sending and receiving packets, must be allowed for. This propagation delay caps the data rate for a given packet size. Making packets larger can compensate, at the expense of being more prone to an error requiring retransmission.

Think of it this way. I can fax you a book a page at a time, with you telling me whether or not you got a page so I can re-send it. That back and forth conversation is subject to the speed of light delay. I could eliminate the delay by faxing you all of "War and Peace" in one shot. You could then let me know if you got the book OK, and if not, I could retransmit the book. (There are adaptive subdivision tricks to improve on this, but they require holding 'the whole book' in buffers on each end until it all gets through. Satellite based Internet services are an extreme example of this. Fast when streaming, until something goes wrong. Don't even think about playing an interactive game over them.)

Wireless networks hit these hard limits pretty quickly, depending on the number of people served by an access point, and the distance from the access point. Throughput is capped for the access point by the customer with the worst signal, and the customer using the most data, sort of like cable TV internet service at 7 PM on a weeknight.

No matter what sort of transmission protocol or data compression scheme one comes up with, that protocol run over a point to point fiber optic link where one channel has more bandwidth than the entire radio spectrum will be faster than the same protocol run over a radio link.
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Old 03-10-2014, 06:49 PM   #14
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M Paquette -
Not boring at all... Thanks for a great explanation... I think I even understand the limits now... even though the technology is over my head... gonna do some more reading...

mpeirce-
Thanks ... looks like some more homework. The reference to "cold fusion" was interesting... if I read it right, pCell looks like a way around the packet limitations.

Last week, a Chicago Trib article talked about Comcast utilizing bandwidth through a "secret" leak built in to their modems or routers... To open up a virtual free WiFi network in high density population areas. Similar to the WiFi Hotspots that so many businesses are offering, but available in a wider area.
Gotta go back and see if I can find the article... Not sure I read it correctly, but sounds interesting.

Fascinating stuff... I don't see any of this getting less expensive, but there may be hope...

edited to add link to article:
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2...i-fi-hot-spots
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Old 03-10-2014, 07:52 PM   #15
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In some cases there is coax cable running from one pedestal to another, and the cable runs across sidewalks, into street, and so on.

.

That sounds like a building code violation. And an opportunity for a tort lawyer.
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Old 03-11-2014, 02:30 AM   #16
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We used to joke in the late 1970's and 80's that many office buildings were reinforced with rg5 and rg6 coax.
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Old 03-11-2014, 04:12 AM   #17
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Infrastructure cost will drive the industry in the years to come. We're in an environment where we're not going to see as much government telling companies how to operate, especially when those dictates mean that those companies have to take lower profits. Until that changes (if ever), we're going to see service offerings increasingly reflective of what's going to foster profits the most, even if it means that pockets of 350 customers here-and-there get remarkably poor (or no) service.

There's a thread I'm following in another forum which is about what people consider the most important aspects to factor into their decision about where to retire. All the obvious ones have been discussed, proximity to family, cost of living, etc. There is something to be said for considering less obvious aspects as well: One reason for us to stay where we are is that we live 18 miles from a gaggle of the best centers of excellence in healthcare in the world. Along the same lines, as much as some might prefer the rural lifestyle and the lower cost of living away from major cities, there are a whole mess of things that could get a lot worse for folks living out in the boonies in the years to come:
  • Local post offices could close.
  • Package delivery services could start relying exclusively on USPS Last Mile services, adding a day to every delivery.
  • Retailers of all sorts could continue to abandon small, local stores in favor of regional megastores, leaving many rural areas highly dependent on long drives for certain groceries, clothing, etc., and higher prices for those things sold locally, charging for the convenience in the light of practically monopoly status of any retailer willing to serve a remote town or village, a status that our current environment of weak consumer protection wouldn't take action against.
And yes, that surely could extend to voice, data and Internet service. Without a radical resurgence of consumer protection, the claims that, "They can't do that/they can't charge that much for that - those are essentials!" will fall on effectively deaf ears.
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