Changing fixed by mobile access

During this week the Mobile World Conference takes place and I assume this is why many operators are talking about LTE, mobile broadband…

Vodafone, which in Spain is the second mobile operator and is trying at present to massively enter into the fixed network market, announced that they will perform a trial to substitute ADSL lines for mobile broadband (3G). This trial will be done in San Quirze del Valles, a small town near Barcelona.

They will test this change to see the perception of the end user when using mobile instead of broadband access and analyze the quality of experience.

Several comments about this:

  • Wireless access is a competitor of xDSL technologies but can not compete against a FTTH deployment in terms of datarate and robustness.
  • For the casual user, wireless broadband access may be a good option but for the heavy user, robustness is a must and wireless does not offer this feature.
  • Real bandwidth of wireless is not the maximum data rate that a channel offers. I am a little but tired of explaining this concept, but the mobile guys tend to hide the basics about wireless transmission.

Each RBS (Remote Base Station) is segmented in several cells and each cell may have several channels (depending on the cell planning and the available frequency spectrum). Then, each channel transmits at x Mbps (several hundreds of Megabits in the case of LTE) but this bandwidth is shared among all the users that are connected to the cell. Thus, the available bandwidth rapidly decreases when there is more than one user connected.

So, this may be a good option for early adopters that use an almost-free network or in very low density areas, where there are not many users connected. However, for dense city, I can not see how they can offer a decent broadband experience just using mobile broadband access… Well, they can install one antenna per building, but then, it is better to install fiber all the way to the user…

Thus, I see mobile access as a complement to low speed fixed broadband, and maybe a substitute for the casual user that just surfs on the Internet and checks e-mails… However, for heavy users, teleworkers and companies with high transmission requirements a fiber is almost a requirement at present…

We wanted to change our productive model, right? Then, I can not understand why network operators try to substitute obsolete technologies (ADSL) for others (mobile ones) that do not offer many benefits… Well, those are cheaper and quicker to deploy… but do not change any model…

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