Rolling Out Rural Broadband,At Mobile World Congress 2010, which was held this past month in Barcelona,

At Mobile World Congress 2010, which was held this past month in ruralsuiteBarcelona, RAD Data Communications made headlines around the world when it introduced RuralSuite, a dedicated product portfolio for extending broadband coverage to outlying areas or White Spaces over existing copper or fiber infrastructure, or by using wireless links. RuralSuite reduces infrastructure costs by enabling operators to leverage existing copper and fiber plant or deploy lightly licensed microwave for fixed broadband access or efficient backhaul of broadband mobile traffic. Low CapEx and neglible OpEx per Megabit help operators recoup investment costs despite low subscriber numbers. Ilan Seidner, RAD’s Director of Marketing Communications, examines what’s behind the headlines.

Ever since the global financial meltdown began, governments around the world have increasingly opted to offer “stimulus” packages that are designed to strengthen their banking systems, create jobs and, perhaps most importantly in the long term, sponsor infrastructure projects that generate a “multiplier effect” on their economies by increasing the public’s demand for goods and services and, therefore, jobs. More than 50 countries have adopted or pledged stimulus programs that are estimated to be backed with over $3 trillion in funds.

Telecommunications infrastructureis widely recognized to be an ideal focus for such stimulus programs because, historically, the multiplier effect that it generates in terms of increased supply and demand, jobs and tax revenue easily justifies the initial outlays.

Natural Target for Stimulus Spending
Investment in telecommunications infrastructure is also a natural target for stimulus spending because improvements can be implemented rather quickly, in contrast, say, to the construction of new highways, airports or power stations. When we speak in this context of telecommunications infrastructure, what comes first to mind is the expansion of broadband networks, which represent the information super-highways of today’s online economy.

For all these reasons, many governments have now launched “broadband everywhere” initiatives that encourage carriers to expand their service footprints to remote areas using both carrots (grants and tax concessions) and sticks (service availability as a pre-requisite for operator licenses). Alternatively, governments are encouraging public–private partnership (PPPs) programs to facilitate the build-out of telecom infrastructure in areas where there is no profitable business model for pure private sector investment.

Extending Broadband to Underserved Locations without Substantial Investments
The good news is that substantial sums do not have to be invested to extend broadband services or enable backhaul of mobile broadband in a previously underserved location. If copper is readily available for example, RAD’s SHDSL.bis modems can be deployed to deliver an aggregate data rate of up to 22 Mbps to a distance of 5.7 kilometers (3.5 miles). If the government initiative allows for an active fiber plant, operators or PPPs will find an economical solution by deploying low-cost fiber optic multiplexers with low power consumption, supporting multiple E1/T1s and 100 Mbps Ethernet for loops greater than 100 kilometers (more than 60 miles). If neither copper nor fiber is present, a pair of lightly licensed wireless multiplexers with a maximum range of up to 120 kilometers (75 miles) can be used to drive up to 100 Mbps of Ethernet and E1/T1 circuits full duplex. These wireless multiplexers are easy to install and set-up and can be hauled away to a new location should traffic demand require licensed microwave or once fiber is trenched. All of these access and backhaul devices can be configured and managed from a central location if necessary and the broadband traffic aggregated using a compact multiservice access node, which can offload the data and voice services onto a packet switched transport network or SDH/SONET, depending on the network architecture.

Governments everywhere, in both developed and developing countries, understand the financial and social benefits of ubiquitous broadband coverage. RAD’s RuralSuite is a small but significant contribution to achieving the reality of “broadband everywhere.”

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