Go Long Wireless enters wireless broadband market via MVDDS spectrum

editor's corner

A startup has entered the wireless broadband market by offering what it dubs wireless fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) using 500 MHz of licensed spectrum in the 12.2 GHz to 12.7 GHz band, otherwise known as the MVDDS (Multichannel Video and Data Distribution Service) band.

Go Long Wireless, a consortium of MVDDS spectrum holders, holds a number of licenses as a result of the FCC's auction of MVDDS spectrum in 2004. It is coming to market now that technology for the band is feasible with a turnkey engineering solution and spectrum for any company looking to either augment their FTTH business in hard-to reach areas or enter the market with a triple-play offering of TV, broadband and VoIP services.

The company recently set up a pilot network in Baltimore, which Go Long Wireless executives say is providing 50+ Mbps downstream capability that can deliver HD video services. The pilot is using a transmission antenna at the World Trade Center in downtown Baltimore and a receive antenna at the Emerging Technology Center in the Canton area.

"Verizon has refused to bring its FIOS offering into the city, but they cover the surrounding municipalities except Baltimore," said Bruce Fox, CEO with Go Long Wireless, in an interview with FierceBroadbandWireless. "For them to do FIOS, it would cost them more than $300 million. We feel we could cover the majority of homes for 5 percent of that number."

Sharif Rabah, a technology consultant with Go Long Wireless, said the MVDDS frequencies are the same frequencies that are used by satellite TV providers DirecTV and Dish Network, but can offer significant savings over satellite solutions not only because the signal doesn't have to travel to a satellite but also because the base station can offer the same capacity as a satellite. Each MVDDS base station can consist of up to four sectors with each sector capacity equivalent to that of a DBS satellite, Rabah said.

"Each sector has 3.6 Gbps capacity, so you get a tremendous amount of bandwidth," Rabah said.

Since the MVDDS spectrum band is licensed for downlink-only transmission, operators of such a network must use a return method such as WiMAX, LTE, 3G and DSL.

"The MVDDS portion does the heavy-lifting by transmitting video, over-the-top video and other high-bandwidth applications, and then users can utilize whatever resource they have for the return path," noted Bill Anderson, vice president of marketing and business development.

Rabah said the return-path technology is built into the customer premise equipment (CPE) to provide seamless use. For the Baltimore pilot, Go Long Wireless is using unlicensed 5.8 GHz spectrum as the return path, which provides about 3.6 Mbps on the uplink.

MVDDS technology does 50 Mbps in the downlink today, but by the end of the year, the company plans to reach 100 Mbps, followed by 200 Mbps and 10 Mbps up the following year, Rabah said.

One caveat to the technology is that it is a line-of-site technology and requires an outdoor antenna to receive signals, so the technology won't available to all households. However, Fox noted the MVDDS technology can be built the same way as cellular architecture to help overcome the line-of-site issues.

MVDDS technology is nascent but it has been rolled out in places such as Ireland and Dubai. Eight months ago a company called Clearband launched broadband and voice services in Coral Springs, Fla., at price points much lower than existing competitors. The main owners of MVDDS spectrum in the U.S. include Cablevision and Dish Network.

Go Long Wireless has no intention of becoming a service provider but aims to lease its spectrum and provide the engineering and technical expertise to any provider wanting to get into the broadband space, Fox said.--Lynnette