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Wireless mobile broadband changes the way we access Internet

Remember how we welcomed wireless remote controls in to our domestic environment? In the early 80s we were fond of having remotely controlled TV sets at home. Later, inspired minds asked for wireless mouse devices for the computers. The wireless mobile telephone has changed the way we used telephones in the 90s. The Mobility feature of mobile phones have added more meaning to the ordinary voice telephone by simply unlocking the features of fixed wired telephone. The word wireless itself gives some new meaning to our mind. The reason is, naturally we love to be wireless.

The Wireless nature of anything simply means that it’s new. Superior, latest, advanced innovations are always associated with the wireless technology. And the convenience with the wireless environment is unmatched.

Wireless mobile broadband has cut the wire of wired broadband internet in the world

We use a number of different technologies to get connected to the Internet. The most common medium is the wire line technology that connects us through the copper telephone wire. Many Internet technologies in the past were based on this copper wire system while providing Internet to its users.

Satellite Internet were also available but certain issues that associates with the satellite technology has prevented this from becoming popular among users in the world. However, whether its satellite, copper wire or cable, it’s regarded as a fixed Internet service that cannot be moved from the location where the service is being provided to. Satellite Internet is somewhat moveable but in the real world no ordinary user would ever consider moving his or her satellite dish as they move from place to place.

Wireless broadband Internet technology is distinguished from all other types by its physical characteristics. Mainly two variants of wireless Internet technologies are available and they are categorised as fixed wireless broadband and mobile wireless broadband. Since we are in the era of high speed broadband (HSBB) Internet, the discussion would be more meaningful if we stick to the word broadband with the conjunction of Internet.

Until recently, Sri Lankan broadband market consisted of only a single broadband player and it too on wired technology called ADSL. ADSL broadband service started in 2003 by using existing copper telephone wires in the country. In 2007 another operator has also entered in to the broadband market with the latest wireless technology called WiMAX (Worldwide Interpretability for Microwave Access) followed two more operators in 2008. There is only one broadband Internet service provider in the country, which provides both fixed and mobile wireless Internet using state of the art wireless technologies. Mobile wireless broadband is based on HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) technology and currently two operators are providing high speed mobile broadband in a very competitive market.

The ADSL provider still dominates the wired broadband Internet in the country and no other operator could access their wire plant to provide DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) broadband. The reason is the ownership of the copper wire network that still remains the property of the incumbent operator. After identifying the importance of Internet to the society, to increase the Internet penetration, many governments have adopted unique strategies to overcome these monopoly rights of the incumbent operators by taking certain measures.

One such method is opening up the access of copper wire to other operators by allowing them to provide DSL broadband Internet using the same copper wire of the incumbent. This process is known as “local Loop Unbundling” (LLU) and currently employed by the regulatory bodies in other countries. The sole idea of the process is to invite other broadband Internet providers to enter the market to provide high speed broadband Internet using the copper wire of the incumbent. Unfortunately, there is no such process in Sri Lanka as yet because the government has not taken policy level decisions to implement LLU in the country.

This condition has adversely affected the growth of Internet and the Internet penetration rate remained at a very low level until the country’s telecom regulator, decided to open up the wireless spectrum to other operators last year. Actually the wireless operators’ timing of entering the market couldn’t be better, when it’s needed the most. Broadband users in the country started to feel the breeze of high speed broadband (HSBB) Internet because of these new market entrants.

The superiority of wireless technology is many times greater to wired based ADSL service. Many limitations are found in ADLS service such as bandwidth limitation issues rising as the distance increases, and could be successfully overcome by these wireless technologies. In fact, ADSL users who live beyond 3.5Km from the telephone exchange would now have the opportunity to obtain broadband services above 4Mbps in wireless broadband.

Since this technology is purely based on being ‘wireless’, a person who wishes to get broadband service does not require having a wire line telephone service at his or her location to get broadband Internet in the future. And no additional hardware is needed if he or she plans to get a fixed broadband Internet service using WiMAX technology for a standalone computer.

Electromagnetic interference and signal degradation in ADSL technology, considerably limits the advantages of wired based broadband service. Naturally, wireless technology is also having its unique problems like signal interference. But, many problems associated with wireless broadband, could easily be overcome with new technology inventions available today.

While serving Internet connectivity to remote villages where wired telephone services are not available to provide ADSL Internet, wireless broadband Internet would become a smarter choice in all aspects. Moreover, CAPAX (capital expenditure) and OPEX (operational expenditure) are fairly low in wireless network environment when comparing to copper wire networks.

Wireless infrastructure implication is time saving and convenient than laying underground cables. Therefore, the wireless broadband Internet would be a profitable business module for service providers.

The next biggest advantage of the wireless broadband Internet is the convenience that it offers to users. If the user intends to get fixed wireless broadband service to his premises, upon his request, service providing company will fix a wireless antenna (WiMAX) on the top of a galvanised pole usually pointing it towards the closest WiMAX cell tower of the service provider. Unlike in other wireless services which operates on microwave signal which requires strict LOS (line of sight) alignment condition between user’s antenna and the transmission tower, WiMAX works perfectly in NLOS (none line of sight) conditions. Actually, WiMAX has been optimised to work in NLOS conditions by improving its technology. This would be very favourable when providing wireless broadband Internet in high terrain areas and especially in the towns with high rising buildings.

The fixed wireless broadband is actually affixed to one designated place and cannot be moved with user’s desire. But the mobile wireless broadband is a technology that packed with mobility feature of Internet which allows the user to take their broadband Internet connection where ever they go. Precisely this would be the new generation of broadband access in tomorrow’s world. Adding more values to its mobility features, using HSPA (high speed packet access) technology mobile broadband transfers data up to 14.4Mbps.

The new generation of HSPA technology, HSPA+ could provide even faster speeds up to 42Mbps in downlink by exhibiting its seamless capabilities.

The benefits that mobile broadband Internet could offer to its users are remarkable. Actually, mobile broadband Internet changes the way we use Internet in our daily life. Some of the HSPA modems that are available in the market are so tiny in size and weighing less than 40 grams and thus can be easily carried in a shirt pocket. The weight and the size of the mobile broadband modem is very important since, it’s intended to be carried by users usually with their lap tops. Therefore, the wireless hardware has to be considerably small in size and less in weight.

The lawyers, doctors, executives, students, researchers and even ordinary Internet users are having the opportunity to get the benefits of mobile broadband Internet. This portable modem is capable of turning any computer to a high speed Internet service upon plugging.

If your office’s computer has no connection to the Internet or your friend’s place you visit has no Internet service, you could still access the Internet with no time by plugging HSPA wireless broadband modem to the computer. This continues connectivity feature that this technology provides is unmatched.

Wireless mobile broadband has opened a new chapter in broadband Internet. Broadband Internet has become mobilised and actually is travels with us. Today we carry a high speed broadband connection in our pocket. Therefore, wireless broadband would be the future method of accessing the Internet.


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LANKAPUVATH - National News Agency of Sri Lanka

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