The recent hype surrounding “5G” and the FCC’s Spectrum Frontiers proceeding seems premised on freeing up airwaves for faster, low-latency mobile connectivity. That will begin to take shape closer to 2020. Here and now, though, an equally if not more critical version of “5G” – “wireless fiber” – is already being deployed by start-ups and, soon, by heavyweights such as Google and Verizon.
Wireless fiber is telecom shorthand for fixed wireless links capable of beaming high-capacity Internet access of 1 gigabit per second or even faster to homes, schools and businesses almost anywhere. Spectrum policy permitting, this development promises to dramatically cut the cost of fiber-to-the-home, which today require trenching fiber optic cable over the final 500 feet, or even longer.
Access to fiber running under a street – or on the rooftop of a fiber-fed building – becomes the jumping off point for extending fiber-fast Internet access to other locations using point-to-point or point-to-multipoint radio technologies. An example is Santa Cruz, California, where a public-private partnership is extending gigabit connections to 8,000 homes and businesses using millimeter wave (mmW) wireless technology.
Access to very wide channels of spectrum is an essential ingredient of wireless fiber. A key policy question is what spectrum works best? And what spectrum access policies are needed to unlock the tremendous potential of wireless fiber to affordably connect all of our nation’s homes, businesses and community anchor institutions?
Vice President, Access Services, Google Fiber
Vice President, Wireless Policy Development, Verizon
Director of Business Development, Siklu
Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder, Mimosa Networks
Public Policy Director, Facebook
Senior Vice President, Communications & Government Relations, Starry Inc.
Director, Wireless Future Project, Open Technology Institute, New America