The concept of a "hybrid" network comprised of both fiber and wireless implies that there are advantages to each, and that the sum of both parts is greater than either on its own. So how do today's fiber and wireless compliment each other? What are the unique advantages of each technology? Furthermore, how are ISPs taking advantage of hybrid fiber-wireless network deployments?
Advantages of Wireless vs Fiber
The chart below compares the advantages of wireless vs fiber in general, although each situation has unique circumstances that may require further consideration.
WIRELESS VS. FIBER COMPARISON
|Total Area that Can Be Covered||Wireless|
|Time to ROI||Wireless|
|Length of Time Before Upgrade||Fiber|
Additional considerations such as long term profitability, and difficulty of providing support, are debatable.
Opportunities for WISPs to Go Hybrid
Although modern wireless has evolved to be incredibly effective and deliver fiber-like speeds, it is not always the answer for every part of a network. Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) adapting a hybrid network model that includes both wireless and fiber can extend their network to new customers that are otherwise out of reach. Service Providers that have the flexibility to connect customers over both wireless and fiber will enjoy growth that their less versatile competitors will miss out on.
WISPs can utilize fiber effectively when:
- Tower access is not an option and line-of-sight is not possible
- Rain fade caused from environmental conditions is beyond customer requirements
- Interference is prevalent in an unlicensed spectrum
- Licensed competitors are present
- Fiber is otherwise necessary to meet customer requirements
Some specific fiber applications that hybrid fiber-wireless ISPs have reported success with include:
- Feeding bandwidth to wireless Micro-Pop networks
- Creating redundancy for wireless backhaul
- Servicing commercial clients
- Adding fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) when required in new residential developments
More Options as a Hybrid Fiber-Wireless ISP
As outlined above, ISPs that diversify their offering to include hybrid fiber-wireless networking increase the chances for success. Investing in quality solutions to get the job done right means having more opportunities for growth. Although this article focuses on WISPs adding fiber to their offerings, the same principle is true for fiber ISPs that could also be offering wireless.
Chapter 10 of our WISP Guide 2019 provides more information on Hybrid networking, along with specific examples of Hybrid Fiber-Wireless ISP deployments. Download the guide today to learn more about this and other related WISP topics!