Last month we started a series of articles on our initiative to test TV white space as a potential technology to deliver better broadband service at a more competitive price in hard-to-reach rural areas. We completed some initial testing, and since have learned some additional information.
We had a problem when testing the direct antenna system. We believed the problem was either a cabling problem, or reflection from our metal roof. We raised the antenna 20-feet off the roof and still had the same problem.
One way to reduce interference and improve system capacity is to split the signal into multiple sectors using a sectorized antenna. So, we switched from an Omni-directional system to a 90-degree sectorized antenna system. With a sectorized system, the signal is compressed within a 90-dgree sector, so your signal will go further. Think of how water shoots out further when you compress the opening at the end of a hose by holding your thumb over the end. You can see a general idea of how they transmit below:
When we tested the sectorized antenna, our signal went out three miles and we were getting 1.1 Mbps. We believe we can reasonably expect 16 Mpbs once we upgrade the bandwidth in that office. Some things to keep in mind:
- It’s, of course, important to have enough bandwidth to see good throughput
- A meter is needed to check the signal (the usual cable meter will work fine)
- We found it helpful to make a handle for the antenna to help hold it while setting it up
Scott Helms, our VP of Technology is very excited about this new option for fixed wireless for bringing broadband to remote areas. He said, “This is the only technology that I’ve ever seen that works so much better in rural areas than in suburban areas because of the availability of so many more channels in rural areas.”
Our next step is to drive around and do additional testing. We’ll keep you posted on how it goes.