Fixed Wireless

The last of the four linking methods is actually another version of home Wi-Fi technology.With fixed wireless or point-to-point DSL, a high-frequency radio signal replaces ground cables, but the signal is focused on a line of sight between two directional antennas.

To connect in this way you will need an antenna on the roof of your house or business that measures roughly one foot high and two feet wide. From this antenna you must have an unobscured line of sight to a fixed wireless access point that is within range.

Alignment is not as critical as with satellite antennas, but it will still have to be done by a servicepeson with special test equipment. Somehow someone will have to run wires from the roof down into a central access point in your house that provides a standard RJ-45 cable link to your internal network.

You will have to distribute connectivity from there, perhaps with a hub or Wi-Fi access point. Latency is negligible, equal to wired networks, and overall performance is usually good as well, with a typical service target of 1.5 Mbps for the downstream and 128 Kbps for the upstream.

As with cable DSL, wDSL subscribers must share the capacity of a given access point, unlike Telco DSL, in which each subscriber has his or her own line back to a CO. It is possible for wireless to get slow during periods of heavy traffic, especially if the channel has been overbooked.

AT&T’s version includes voice over IP (VoIP) telephone service for $80 per month. Sprint gives you data only for prices equivalent to wired DSL. As with satellites, fixed wireless is handy for connecting businesses or communities that do not have alternatives.

Some have started as grassroots endeavors by individuals in data-starved communities who have banded together in order to set up and share connectivity to the Internet. They share the wireless pipeline to an out-of-town access point.