How fixed wireless access helps achieve Broadband Zero
Saving the planet from ecological disaster requires a collective effort from every one of us. We must all, as industries, businesses and individuals, make sustainable changes to the way we live our lives. We call our approach Broadband Zero: striving for fixed networks that achieve net zero emissions and exclude zero people from the benefits of high-speed broadband.
We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously and have in place a number of initiatives to improve the sustainability of our products, processes and services. We also believe passionately in the ability for better broadband to help people reduce their own effect on the planet. Every additional broadband connection can create a net positive effect on the environment because broadband cuts transportation, creates gains in productivity and efficiency, and boosts economic growth for individuals, countries, cities, and society as a whole.
Access to broadband remains stubbornly unequal
For a powerful example of the socio-economic benefits of broadband, take a look at our work with UNICEF connecting schools in Kenya.
There are still more than 1.4 billion households in the world with no or with too slow broadband and we’re determined to reach them. “White spots” exist across the world in both developing and developed nations. These areas are often eligible for a subsidized broadband deployment where national and local government initiatives, like the EU’s Digital Agenda for Europe and the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) in the US, are designed to improve broadband connectivity for such underserved regions. Fixed wireless access (FWA) is a vital technology for this. It’s ideal for hard-to-reach locations or areas with low population densities where radio might be the only way to reach people.
Technology that makes optimal usage of radio resources
By leveraging existing 4G and 5G radio resources, FWA is a highly attractive “quick win” for both operators and consumers. Consumers can, of course, currently connect to mobile broadband at home using smart phone tethering and data dongles (Mi-Fi). But these are designed for mobile convenience, not home broadband and they tend to waste radio resources, and hence have lower energy efficiency, while providing limited revenue opportunities for operators.
As you can see in the UNICEF video, our FWA solution relies on the convenience of standard Wi-Fi to connect laptops, smartphones, and other mobile devices to the internet. We’ve also worked very hard to get the best possible performance from FWA. We use high-gain antennas, 5G massive MIMO and outdoor receivers to improve throughput and radio efficiency. High-gain antennas target signals as a much more effective beam directed towards the cell site, which also limits interference. Within the radio access network, the massive MIMO arrays of 5G help radio efficiency in a similar way. We also use outdoor or window mount devices to avoid having to penetrate walls, which greatly improves radio efficiency and, hence, power efficiency. High gain FWA outdoor receivers can have up to a 30 dB reduction in radio attenuation when compared to an indoor mobile phone, resulting in five times better energy efficiency.
Zero people excluded from the benefits of broadband
Without a reliable high-speed fixed connection to the internet, it makes it more challenging to enable economic growth and provide access to good healthcare and education. In light of this, fixed broadband connectivity programs must be accelerated. First, every household must be connected; second, minimum service levels need to be guaranteed.
Broadband Zero might sound ambitious or even idyllic, but it makes a difference in ensuring the digital divide does not widen between those who have access to broadband and those who do not. It embodies a philosophy that we are absolutely committed to, and we will continue to innovate with any and all technologies that bring us closer to achieving it.