Fixed wireless refers to the operation of wireless devices or systems in fixed locations such as homes and offices. Fixed wireless devices usually derive their electrical power from the utility mains, unlike mobile wireless or portable wireless which tend to be battery-powered. Although mobile and portable systems can be used in fixed locations, efficiency and bandwidth are compromised compared with fixed systems. Mobile or portable, battery-powered wireless systems can serve as emergency backups for fixed systems in case of a power blackout or natural disaster.
The technology for wireless connection to the Internet is as old as the Net iteself. Amateur radio operators began "patching" into telephone lines with fixed, mobile, and portable two-way voice radios in the middle of the 20th Century. A wireless modem works something like an amateur-radio "phone patch," except faster. High-end fixed wireless employs broadband modems that bypass the telephone system and offer Internet access hundreds of times faster than twisted-pair hard-wired connections or cell-phone modems.
Some of the most important assets of fixed wireless are as follows.
- Subscribers can be added or moved (to a certain extent) without modifying the infrastructure.
- Subscribers in remote areas can be brought into a network without the need for stringing new cables or optical fibers across the countryside.
- Broad bandwidth is possible because there are no wires or cables to introduce reactance into the connection (reactance limits bandwidth by preventing signals higher than a certain frequency from efficiently propagating).
- As the number of subscribers increases, the connection cost per subscriber goes down.