G.fast Goes Wireless – to MDUs at 1 Gbps

– Aims at World’s Millions of MDU Residences
– Speeds up to 1 Gbps via Roof-top Antenna, Fiber to a Wiring Closet and Existing Copper Wires to Each Residence

Until now, G.fast has depended on telcos deploying fiber to within a few hundred yards of the residence. That is not always possible or affordable. Now broadband service providers can use wireless antennae within about 2.5 miles of an MDU, thanks to a partnership between Siklu, a wireless technology company, and Sckipio, a maker of G.fast chips. Speeds for residences can be up to 1 Gbps.

The network architecture:
– The antenna, typically located on the roof of a multi-story MDU, must be within line-of-sight of another like-antenna
– Fiber is used from the antenna to a wiring closet, typically located in the basement of an MDU
– Each G.fast distribution point in the wiring closet can use the building’s existing copper phone wires to connect to up to 16 individual residences.

Inside the MDU’s residences or offices, a G.fast modem or gateway is used to connect the Internet to mobile and stationary devices within the home or office.


Fast & Easy (Relatively) Gigabit Broadband for MDUs


The biggest benefits:
– No street digging/trenching is required, which saves time and money plus solves a problem with streets that are old and are in many places considered “antique.”
– The time-to-market for a 1 Gbps per residence network can be measured in months, not in years and the costs in millions, not billions.
– The 60-80 MHz spectrum that’s used costs much less than comparable cellular frequencies.

Siklu and Sckipio say that their technologies will allow service providers to offer, at affordable monthly rates, speeds up to 1.0 Gbps to broadband consumers who live in dense, city environments. The question is who those broadband providers will be:
– Telcos in areas where they have not built all-fiber networks have been badly beaten in broadband speeds by cablecos — see the example in last week’s The Online Reporter that compares current speeds between Cox and AT&T on a typical American broadband stand-off in the suburbs. If telcos deploy the Siklu-Sckipio technology, it could be done through either their cellular or wireline operations.
– Cellcos such as Sprint and T-Mobile USA that are not now in the wireline broadband business may see this as an opportunity to offer gigabyte broadband and compete against the telcos and cablecos’ bundling of wireline and wireless.
– Third parties such as Google may see this as an opportunity to extend their all-fiber networks into areas where wires are not so easy to install as they were in the suburbs of the Kansas Citys and Austins.
– Municipalities may see the advantages to their citizens’ pleasure and business opportunities and decide to deploy the Siklu-Sckipio hybrid wireless/wireline technology to supplement their all-fiber networks.

Siklu uses E-Band and V-Band millimeter wave wireless antennae that are connected to G.fast distribution points in the MDU. It said it can provide up to 2 Gbps of aggregated traffic over distances as far as 2.5 miles using spectrum between 60-80 GHz.

The technology can also be used at universities and businesses that are located in campus-like settings.

Mark Lowenstein, managing director the consultancy Mobile Ecosystem, said, “Fiber backhauling in urban settings is very difficult and expensive. Combining it with G.fast creates real opportunities for wireless ISPs to deliver higher capacity for small cells, public Wi-Fi and affordable ultra-broadband.”

It’s a big market. An estimated 30% of US broadband subscribers are said to live in MDUs and it’s an even higher percentage in Europe and Asia.

Itzik Ben-Bassat, CEO of Siklu, said, “In cities such as San Francisco and New York, it is very challenging to trench fiber to the building and its impractical to install fiber all the way to each residence. By combining these two emerging technologies together, we can solve many of the major logistical, regulatory, and installation problems that make it expensive to deliver gigabit broadband to city-dwellers.”

Sckipio CEO David Baum said, “Siklu lowers the costs to deliver ultra-broadband to the building, and Sckipio’s G.fast lowers the cost to deliver ultra-broadband to users within the building. Combining these two market disrupters will create many new opportunities for entrepreneurs who want to deliver innovative broadband solutions to millions of consumers and business customers.”

Siklu said its gigabit capable millimeter wave wireless backhaul technology is in the most deployed millimeter wave radios in the world and it delivers thousands of units that are capable of carrier-grade performance in varying weather conditions around the world.

Telcos’ DSL Broadband Has Lost the Battle
The FCC has said that the minimum speed to be considered broadband is 25 Mbps. By that count, 93% of all the telcos’ DSL subscribers do not have broadband.

Here are the broadband speed comparisons in a Baton Rouge, Louisiana neighborhood:

Monthly Speed (Mbps)
$34.95 6 with a $50 rewards card, 1-year contract
$44.95 18 with a $50 rewards card, 1-year contract
$49.00 18 with basic TV, HBO GO & Amazon Prime but no reward card

That’s it. Not even 25 Mbps, which is what the FCC now considers to be the lowest speed that can be called broadband. It’s interesting that the fastest speed is intended to appeal to cord cutters by including Amazon Prime and HBO Go — although Netflix is noticeable by its absence.

On AT&T’s Web page, when it searches to see whether you can get its wireline broadband service at your residence, the first screen that pops up is an ad for AT&T’s cellular service, which says a lot about where AT&T’s heart and pocketbook is these days: Entirely wireless with cellular now and wireless satellite pay TV down the road once it acquires DirecTV as it has proposed to do.

By comparison, Cox, even before it installs the first new fiber, offers these speeds in the same neighborhood:

Monthly Speed in Mbps
$34.99 5 plus 5 GB cloud, 1-year contract
$49.99 50 plus 50 GB cloud, 1-year contract
$59.99 100 plus 100 GB cloud, 1-year contract
$79.99 150plus 150 GB cloud, 1-year contract

It’s clear. If you want simple, slow broadband at the cheapest price — like for email, texting and some browsing of text only Web sites, AT&T has the best deal, barely, at $34.99 for 6 Mbps. But if you and your family want a modern broadband service that’ll handle multiple TV, smartphones, gaming consoles and tablets, then …

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