Story 2014-10-17 2TEA Google possibly investigating high-speed wireless alternatives to fiber

Google possibly investigating high-speed wireless alternatives to fiber

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in google on (#2TEA)
On Monday, Google sought permission from the Federal Communications Commission to conduct tests of “proprietary wireless applications” in a section of the electromagnetic spectrum that experts say could serve as a perfect replacement for fiber. Google declined to comment on its application for experimental radio service licenses for the 5.8 GHz, 24 GHz, 72 GHz and 82 GHz bands. In correspondence with the FCC, Google went so far as to request confidential treatment.

This is spurring speculation that Google may be looking to wireless alternatives for gigabit speed internet access in future Google Fiber cities. This could allow them to run fiber to the block, and use wireless distribution for the last-mile. Potentially, a cheaper alternative to costly fiber roll-outs to individual homes.

High frequency spectrum is “not an unreasonable way to think about replacing fiber to the home,” McFarland said. “However you’d need a clear line of sight. You could have something on a telephone pole on the street, and you could point it at an antenna on top of your house. As long as you had no obstructions, you could get multiple gigabits per second.”
Reply 12 comments

and no digging (Score: 1)

by zafiro17@pipedot.org on 2014-10-17 09:46 (#2TED)

It seems like a reasonable line of inquiry, at any rate. Why invest all that time, effort, and money digging trenches and laying cable when wireless infrastructure can be put up so much more easily? Back in 2000 I had an office whose internet connection was provided by a microwave link across town to the ISP via an antenna on both roofs. Seemed like magic back then - can't imagine that technology hasn't improved scads since then.

Downside: bomb that antenna, and the city is offline. A nice move for any aspiring dictator.

Re: and no digging (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-10-17 14:22 (#2TEK)

Other potential issue: security. Listening or a man in the middle becomes a lot easier on wireless.

Re: and no digging (Score: 1)

by wootery@pipedot.org on 2014-10-17 14:34 (#2TEN)

True, but you can encrypt everything between the two points.

Re: and no digging (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-10-17 16:29 (#2TES)

Maybe you and I can, but can grandma?

It will have to be seamless enough for the masses. Considering the current state of encryption, that is a ways off.

Re: and no digging (Score: 1)

by wootery@pipedot.org on 2014-10-17 14:35 (#2TEP)

Downside: bomb that antenna, and the city is offline.
How bomb-resistant are typical ISPs, though?

I don't imagine your average ISP sees that as something worth spending on.

Line of Sight & Rain/Snow? (Score: 1, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-10-17 11:05 (#2TEE)

This sounds like a neat idea, but how would it handle rain/snow?

Re: Line of Sight & Rain/Snow? (Score: 1)

by evilviper@pipedot.org on 2014-10-17 12:16 (#2TEF)

That is certainly a good point, but dealing with rain/snow fade is just a matter of increasing the signal strength several percent more to compensate. At such short distances as discussed here, it should be quite easy to manage very high signal levels to the destination.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rain_fade

There is no replacement for fiber. (Score: 1)

by entropy@pipedot.org on 2014-10-21 13:48 (#2TJ3)

There is no replacement for Fiber. There's things people try to do to cheap out and give a inferior product, such as brighthouse's "hybrid fiber coax" network. I've used wireless before, even licensed wireless links: They absolutely suck compared to fiber. I'm not talking about bandwidth I'm just talking about you know--actually working all the time.

Wireless does incredibly crazy stuff(depending on spectrum). It bounces of things, multiple copies of information arrive from different paths, rain screws with it, microwaves screw with it, winds screw with the antennas, etc.

If google fiber wants to change itself from the absolute premier internet provider into something only a backwater coal town with dialup would want, feel free to change to wireless. I'll stick with my FTTH network.

Re: There is no replacement for fiber. (Score: 1)

by evilviper@pipedot.org on 2014-10-21 19:32 (#2TJP)

Actually, microwave links are ridiculously reliable. Before fiber optics, before communications satellites, most long-distance phone calls and TV programming went from microwave tower to microwave tower, all the way across the country, as needed.

Today, microwave links from NY (or NJ) to Chicago are competing with and replacing fiber-optics, particularly for high-speed trading purposes, due to the lower latency.

http://www.heraldonline.com/2014/09/23/6352231/innovator-windy-apple-announces.html

http://www.computerworld.com/article/2493686/financial-it/microwave-vies-with-fiber-for-high-frequency-trading.html

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-15/wall-street-grabs-nato-towers-in-traders-speed-of-light-quest.html

You shouldn't confuse your experiences with companies that have "wireless" in their names, that are possibly operating very lean and selling sub-par service, with the underlying technology. I think we can all agree that satellite TV can be pretty darn reliable... if it wasn't, your OTA or cable TV wouldn't work, either, because they get their network programming feed via satellite. Ditto for, say, OTA TV, FM radio, etc. There's no reason local wireless from the end of the block couldn't be every bit as reliable.

Re: There is no replacement for fiber. (Score: 1)

by entropy@pipedot.org on 2014-10-22 12:04 (#2TJZ)

I've used microwave..that was the licensed frequency stuff that I've used in the past. Now granted it was a different ballpark of equipment than someone using high frequency trading might use so not exactly apples to apples. But what caliber equipment would google use to deliver internet service to the home? I'm betting closer to the stuff I've used than the stuff wallstreet uses. Keep in mind in a point to multipoint environment(unless you're using a satelite) you're not using a directional antenna at both end, and may not even have line of sight--So you're dealing with reflection of signal and all the fun stuff that happens with that.

It seems (http://us.aviatnetworks.com/solutions/low-latency-microwave/) microwave propogates faster than light through a fiber optic cable. Cool. So there's certainly a latency advantage.

But if given a choice between fiber to the home, and microwave to my home I'd still choose fiber, even at a higher price. While I may suffer 2ms in latency, I'll gladly take that in return for subterranian cable run to my home, higher reliability, and likely higher future bandwidth.

My satelite TV suffered from rain fade during storms. Did yours? Also keep in mind that's a direct line of sight link.

Re: There is no replacement for fiber. (Score: 1)

by evilviper@pipedot.org on 2014-10-22 14:35 (#2TK1)

subterranian cable run to my home, higher reliability, and likely higher future bandwidth.
If it would save me the $600 construction fee, I'd certainly be happy to try the wireless, so long as it doesn't glitch too much in bad weather.

And with FIOS using 32-way splitters, wireless could certainly beat it on speed.
My satelite TV suffered from rain fade during storms. Did yours?
No, but then I was starting-off with around 95% signal strength. In fact it took about 4in. of snow collecting on the dish to finally cause a signal outage.

Poor buggers way up in Alaska need a large dish to pickup anything even on a good day...

Re: There is no replacement for fiber. (Score: 1)

by entropy@pipedot.org on 2014-10-22 16:47 (#2TK7)

4 inches of snow? That's really impressive lol.

In re: 32 way splitters. I qualify for 500/500(though I have 75/75). I know what the road 'coffin' looks like for my residence, it seems to go back to a concentrator with every residence getting a individual fiber back to what I assume is their central office(or at least some sort of distribution hub). I'm not really sure how the aggregator works but I reliably get 85/85, and I have no reason to doubt their ability to offer 500/500....

I'm not really sure how one would split fiber, seems like I'd just need to be on a aggregator with sufficient bandwidth. Honestly the top end would probably be limited by the gigabit ethernet port on the ONT.