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are keen to encourage the roll-out of broadband interactive multimedia
services to business and residential customers because they recognise
the economic benefits of e-commerce, information and entertainment.
Digital cable networks can provide a compelling combination of
simultaneous services including broadcast TV, VOD, fast Internet
and telephony. Residential customers are likely to be increasingly
attracted to these bundles as the cost can be lower than for separate
provision. Cable networks have therefore been implemented or upgraded
to digital in many urban areas in the developed countries.
ADSL has been
developed by telcos to allow on-demand delivery via copper pairs.
A bundle comparable to cable can be provided if ADSL is combined
with PSTN telephony and satellite or terrestrial broadcast TV
services but incumbant telcos have been slow to roll it out and
'unbundling' has not proved successful so far. Some telcos have
been accused of restricting ADSL performance and keeping prices
high to protect their existing business revenues. Prices have
recently fallen but even now the ADSL (and SDSL) offerings are
primarily targeted at provision of fast (but contended) Internet
services for SME and SOHO customers. This slow progress (which
is partly due to the unfavourable economic climate) has also allowed
cable companies to move slowly.
A significant proportion of customers in suburban and semi-rural
areas will only be able to have ADSL at lower rates because of
the attenuation caused by the longer copper drops. One solution
is to take fibre out to street cabinets equipped for VDSL but
this is expensive, even where ducts are already available.
and service providers are increasingly beset by a wave of technologies
that could potentially close the gap between their fibre trunk
networks and a client base that is all too anxious for the industry
to accelerate the rollout of broadband. While the established
vendors of copper-based DSL and fibre-based cable are finding
new business, many start-up operators, discouraged by the high
cost of entry into wired markets, have been looking to evolving
wireless radio and laser options.
late entrant into this competitive mire is mesh radio, a technology
that has quietly emerged to become a potential holder of the title
'next big thing'. Mesh Radio is a new approach to Broadband Fixed
Wireless Access (BFWA) that avoids the limitations of point to
multi-point delivery. It could provide a cheaper '3rd Way' to
implement residential broadband that is also independent of any
existing network operator or service provider.
Instead of connecting
each subscriber individually to a central provider, each is linked
to several other subscribers nearby by low-power radio transmitters;
these in turn are connected to others, forming a network, or mesh,
of radio interconnections that at some point links back to the
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