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When deploying rural wireless broadband networks, many

choices are available for customer premises equipment

(CPE). Increasing the complexity of CPEs can decrease
network costs. Careful consideration should be made to
strike the right balance.

Signalling the Future

Delivering home-broadband services in rural areas to equal
those of urban areas is extremely costly and technically difficult.
Wireless networks are the only practical technology available,
but the number of base stations required increases
exponentially with the required coverage. This means that the
last two to three percent of addresses must use satellite
connections for the system to be economically viable. Similarly
as the required data throughput increases, there is also a
Site count versus coverage penetration
corresponding exponential increase in the investment

Technologies for Fixed Wireless Broadband Delivery

When designing a rural wireless broadband network, three of the design choices that must be made
are the network technology to be used, the type of equipment that the subscribers use to access the
network and frequency band to be allocated amongst others.
There are many options available for the customers terminal equipment. Certain types of terminal
equipment reduce the required investment in the network, while increasing the required investment in
customer acquisition. For example, it requires fewer sites to deliver coverage to an external antenna
than to an indoor device. In areas of low customer density, the increased investment required in
customer equipment can be justified by the savings made in network investment.
The first option for customer terminal
equipment is to use standard dongle USB
modems and to build a network that is dense
enough to ensure indoor coverage.

Wireless broadband delivered indoors

A second option is to use a home repeater,

which reduces the density of base stations
required. A home repeater receives the base
station signal at a point in the building where
the penetration loss is low, such as in a loft or
near a window. The repeater then either
amplifies the signal and rebroadcasts it
indoors, or relays it via an indoor coverage
unit to rebroadcast the signal from a separate
location deeper indoors. A variation on this is
where the terminal unit receives the base
station signal, demodulates it and delivers the
broadband service indoors using standard
802.11 WiFi technology. However, this has the
disadvantage that it doesnt enhance mobile
voice coverage.

A third option further reduces the required

investment in the network, and uses an
external antenna connected to an internal
repeater or 802.11 access point. The external
antenna typically has a gain of 9dBi to 12dBi
and significantly increases the distance from
the base station at which a wireless
broadband service can be delivered.

Wireless broadband using a home repeater

Wireless broadband using an external antenna

Wireless access technologies available include UMTS/HSPA, LTE, WiMAX and FlashOFDM. These
technologies can be implemented at several available frequencies. Deployment at lower frequencies is
an advantage in rural areas where system capacity is not as critical. The table below shows the typical
cell range and area for four different technology applications, in three frequency bands, delivering
5Mbps at the cell edge. The cell range is calculated using standard COST-Hata models with an assumed
base station height of 20 metres and coverage is considered without capacity impacts. Emerging
technologies such as MIMO have a significant impact on the bandwidth that can be delivered to the

Cell radius and area for a 5Mbps service at various frequencies and for various technologies
(note CPE=> external 11dBi antenna)

The investment required to deliver a wireless broadband service is highly dependent on the choice of
terminal equipment and the frequency at which the system operates. Increasing the cost and
complexity of terminal equipment can result in a corresponding decrease in the investment required to
build the network. In areas where the subscriber density is expected to be low significant savings can
be made. Careful analysis is required to ensure that the correct balance is struck when deciding what
approach to take, taking due consideration of the financial, technical and customer aspects.

For further information

Baldev Gill

Vilicom is an expert provider of

consultancy services with over ten years
of experience in the analysis, design, test
and implementation of wireless

For fixed and mobile wireless

broadband, Vilicom has performed
Stephen Shannon
network technology analysis, prepared tenders and submissions to government,
performed detailed cellular design,
created transmission network strategy
and followed through to network

2012 Vilicom Engineering Ltd.,

14 Joyce Way, Park West, Dublin 12.
+353 1 435 8420