|The Sky Is Calling|
Posted: 27-Apr-2002 [Source: Forbes.com]
[Fixed wireless is mounting a competitive comeback thanks to the OFDM standard allowing signals to take multiple paths so obstructions do not interfere with the signal as in first-generation fixed wireless networks.]
by Scott Woolley -- "Charles Buske, like many rural Iowans, had grown used to the agony of slow downloads over an aging modem. But since January, Buske, along with 175 of his neighbors in Pocahontas, Iowa (pop. 1,970), have been enjoying connections of a zippy 512 kilobits per second, ten times the speed that folks in neighboring towns such as Storm Lake get by dialing up America Online. Buske's on-ramp to the Internet is not a phone or cable line, but a 10-inch-tall antenna in his living room that talks to another antenna atop the town's water tower. For this, Buske pays $30 a month, six bucks more than a standard AOL fee. "It's always performed flawlessly," Buske gushes. "The antenna can even pick up a signal in the basement."
The technology deployed in Pocahontas, known as "fixed wireless," is at least a decade old. But it has been a decade of unremitting failure. Dozens of companies thought they could strike it rich by bypassing phone and cable wires and simply connecting homes to the Internet through the air.
AT&T canned its much-hyped Project Angel last October, dumping 47,000 customers and writing off $1.3 billion. Sprint, which offers fixed wireless to 50,000 customers in 14 markets, said it will continue service to existing customers but is halting deployment. In March Hybrid Networks, once the biggest maker of early consumer fixed wireless gear, announced it was ceasing operations. Efforts to sell fixed wirelessservice to businesses was an even greater disaster: Highfliers Teligent and Winstar blew through $4 billion on their way to bankruptcy."
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