What Is Fixed Wireless Internet?

May 1, 2022

Fixed wireless is the use of microwave signals to connect two fixed locations (e.g., building to building or tower to building) with a radio or other wireless link. The purpose of a fixed wireless link is to enable data communications between the two sites or buildings. Fixed wireless data links are often a cost-effective alternative to leasing fiber or installing cable or telephone lines.

It’s a simple form of technology that is growing in popularity with an estimated 8 million subscribers expected to subscribe to the service by 2022, according to this report from WISPA.

Pros of Fixed Wireless Internet

  • Quick Installation– Efficient wireless internet service providers (WISPs) can have a customer up and running within days. This is due to the fact that most WISPs already have a built out network in their respective region. Typically, all that needs to be installed is a radio at the customer’s location which can then be configured to communicate with the nearest PoP.
  • Flexible Bandwidth– Bandwidth speeds can be turned up or down based on needs of organization. Users can be added, removed or reshuffled with minimal impact on the cost or existing infrastructure. For this reason, fixed wireless is an excellent internet access option for businesses seeking a future-proof solution.
  • Local Service Providers– Local carriers equal local support. According to WISPA, an average US-based WISP only serves 1,200 customers. Compare this to CenturyLink’s 5.9 million broadband subscribers. Handling fewer customers means the local provider can promise more efficient and effective customer service, normally with a regional base.
  • Reliable– The lack of cables means fixed wireless is not susceptible to issues that affect cable, satellite, DSL and even fiber. There are no cables that could be cut or interfered with. As a result, there is little to no ongoing maintenance required.
  • Secure– Wireless technology has been tagged with the misconception that because signals travel via microwaves, security cannot be guaranteed. However, as the industry has grown, providers have developed impressive security protocols that ensure encryption, data privacy and a requirement for authentication and access control.

Cons of Fixed Wireless Internet

  • Line of Sight – For the receiver radio and transmitter radio located at the WISP’s PoP, a line of sight is required. Any trees or large buildings blocking the path between the two will make the connection very difficult. Although there are ways around it, for example if the WISP has alternative PoPs to fall back on, a line of sight with the nearest PoP is usually the most desirable option.
  • Cost – Fixed wireless can be more expensive than other internet access solutions such as cable, DSL and satellite. The reason for this is that fixed wireless is a dedicated service whereas cable, DSL and satellite are shared or “best effort” options. To summarize, with fixed wireless customers get the bandwidth and quality of service that they sign up for, whereas with more traditional internet access solutions, this is not always the case.
  • Singular Access Point – Although this is the case for the majority of wireless and wired solutions, it is worth pointing out that fixed wireless has a fixed access point at the customer location.

Does weather affect fixed wireless?

Fixed wireless is a reliable technology that can withstand extreme weather conditions and perform equal, if not better than, a wired connection.

Is Fixed Wireless Internet Right For My Home or Business?

Fixed wireless does possess some minor limitations – the need for a line of sight and the higher cost could represent sticking points but working with a local provider often means that a solution to the problem can be found.

Fixed wireless represents the ideal choice for homes and businesses seeking a dedicated, reliable and high-speed internet connection with the promise of local support.