ISPs, CLECs, mobile operators and regional operators seek to expand business, grow their addressable market and find new ways to provide services to their customers.
One popular option for achieving this is to create a Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) infrastructure in order to provide services to residential and business customers. These services vary from internet-connectivity data single play services to a mixture of different services that create a triple-play or even a quad-play bundle.
Two main architectures can be used by service providers to implement a FWA infrastructure: Point-to-point (PtP) and Point-to-Multipoint (PtMP).
PtMP solutions excel in terms of ease of deployment. They typically use lower, licensed or license-exempt frequency bands that allow for operations in Near Line of Sight (nLoS) and even Non Line of Sight (NLOS); while PtP solutions typically require Line of Sight (LoS) operations.
Moreover, PtMP solutions that use license-exempt frequency bands do not require an investment in licensed spectrum. That, combined with the typical lower cost of customer premise units, leads to a very cost-efficient solution.
However, PtMP solutions lack capacity scalability, which is a key factor for service providers who seek to provide broadband services. These solutions use shared spectrum resources to facilitate services for multiple subscribers. This means that the capacity per subscribers is limited, specifically as the number of subscribers grows in a given sector. Moreover, the common use of license-exempt frequency band leads to interference that further reduces the available capacity in such sectors.
Combining PtMP with PtP architecture
In order to overcome these limitations, we recommend the following best-practice of PtMP and PtP architecture.
In this scenario, the initial network deployment is aimed at achieving maximum coverage. As is the case in a new area served by a mobile network, the network should be planned to ensure maximum coverage with minimum resources. This is done based on PtMP network architecture and a base-station grid that is created to ensure such maximal coverage. The base-stations are backhauled by wireless PtP links and blanket-coverage is achieved. As this is the fastest way to achieve such coverage, this method allows for short time-to-market and is also very cost efficient as the resources used are minimal.
Once customer acquisition starts to ramp-up, a capacity constraint may occur. Proper planning and resource monitoring will allow the service provider to avoid this situation by selectively moving high-capacity customers (or high-capacity “hot-spots” in which a cluster of customers exist) to PtP connectivity.
This future-proofs the capacity allocation for a customer or a group of customers while freeing-up resources from the shared resources PtMP sector, allowing other customers in that sector to leverage additional capacity. The customer premise equipment of the PtMP network can be easily relocated to a new customer anywhere in the network, so no investment in network infrastructure is lost.
Planning in advance
For this plan to work, the network must be planned in a way that facilitates this transition. For example, the base-station should be located strategically to enable LoS operation for as many potential high-capacity customers or clusters as possible.
To conclude, serving new areas with FWA is not a trivial task. However, the challenges can be overcome by using both PtMP and PtP technologies and solutions to create this valuable new revenue stream with minimum use of resources.
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