Wireless Local Loop Technology Eyeing the Last Mile

In spite of previous setbacks, many in the telcom industry still see potential in Wireless Local Loop (WLL) technology to complete the connection between users and their phone companies.

Past attempts have not been encouraging. Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Systems (MMDS) and Local Multichannel Distribution Systems (LMDS) were a major disappointment.

Statistics from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) offer nothing to suggest a change in user preferences. According to the latest figures, among corporations, government departments and large organizations, fixed wireless claims only a fraction of the users who choose fiber, ADSL or cable modem.

Still, a number of companies have developed new last-mile wireless systems, which they hope will become profitable in the very near future. Andrew Kreig, President of the industry’s trade group, the Wireless Communications Association International (WCA), cites several positive developments.

WLL stands to benefit from the Bush Administration’s new $1.4 billion loan program for rural broadband. The industry itself has also made some major strides, in particular concerning line of site limitations. “The equipment has made breakthroughs in high capacity that solves some of the challenges of the past,” he explains.

Kreig also cites a movement to customer installed equipment, that could attract users with lower installation costs. The industry’s maturity is “an exciting development,” he says. “Unfortunately, it has been somewhat obscured by the telecom industry’s financial gloom. EC


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