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Broadband Fixed Wireless Access

Broadband is a general term for any telecoms technology that can carry a lot of data, using a wide range (band) of frequencies, over fixed telephone lines or wireless communication methods. In the UK broadband is most typically used to describe high-speed Internet access technologies (see below).
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Broadband Fixed Wireless Access
Small Fixed Wireless Broadband Mast from lncomms.co.uk
Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) providers (Wireless ISPs - WISPs) use specific frequencies of the radio spectrum to transmit their signals through the air (radio waves) and in a similar way to how mobile phone networks operate, doing away with wires. Most wireless ISPs only offer very limited coverage in specific/niche areas (e.g. rural villages), although their price and performance tends to be good.

WISP’s typically come in two different forms, a ‘Fixed’ wide-area network or 'Hotspot'. Fixed networks are stationary and designed to deliver internet access over wide areas, while Hotspots are cheaper localised methods of Internet access that have been designed to cover smaller areas, such as train stations or restaurants.

Presently there are two primary consumer technology types: Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11) and WiMAX (IEEE 802.16). Both can be used for the same purpose, although Wi-Fi is a far more domestic technology and can often be found in home networks, indoor business environments and Hotspots. Meanwhile WiMax has been specifically designed for wider area high-speed networking and can even extend to Mobile Broadband operators (802.16e - see the related section linked above).

Common Wireless Standards (Speed in Megabits):
* Wi-Fi 802.11a (up to 2Mbps) - Frequency: 2.4GHz or 5GHz
* Wi-Fi 802.11b (up to 11Mbps) - Frequency: 2.4GHz
* Wi-Fi 802.11g (up to 54Mbps) - Frequency: 2.4GHz
* Wi-Fi 802.11n (up to 600Mbps) - Frequency: 2.4GHz or 5GHz
* Wi-Fi 802.11ac (up to 1700Mbps) - Frequency: 5GHz
* Wi-Fi 802.11ac-2013 (up to 7000Mbps) - Frequency: 5GHz
* Wi-Fi 802.11ad (up to 7000Mbps) - Frequency: 60GHz (short range)
* WiMAX 802.16/d (up to 1Gbps+) - Frequency: 2.3GHz, 2.5GHz, 2.6GHz, 3.5GHz
* 4G TD LTE (up to 1000Mbps+) - Frequency: 3.5GHz, 3.6GHz

The latest hardware can push speeds up into Gigabit territory (1000Mbps+), although wireless performance reduces over distance and as it passes through solid structures (walls etc.). Sadly most consumers never receive the top speed of any given wireless technology, sometimes even when they're standing right next to the source.

It should be noted that some FWA ISPs, especially those in remote areas, also use point-to-point Microwave (radio) wireless technology to deliver their capacity. On top of that a larger number of FWA providers have their own specialised form of wireless connectivity that is similar to wifi but may have been specially adapted to suit a particular environment (e.g. rural areas).

Wireless Advantages
- Good but not amazing speeds (technology and environment dependent).
- Highly flexible coverage.
- Good latency.
- Affordable.
Wireless Disadvantages
- FWA ISPs are usually niche with limited coverage.
- Security issues with old encryption (WEP).
- Variable performance.
- Big difference in prices between ISPs.
Related ISPreview.co.uk Content:
* Wireless Internet News
* Broadband Wireless ISP Listings
* Broadband Wireless Reader ISP Reviews
* Broadband Wireless ISP Discussion Forum
* Broadband Wireless Coverage Checker (Only works for a few ISPs)

* GUIDE: 8 Top Tips for Keeping Your Wireless Broadband ISP Router / Modem Cool
* GUIDE: The Best Home Alternatives to WiFi Wireless Networks
* GUIDE: Top 10 Wireless (Wi-Fi) Security Tips
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