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Cisco Unveils Amazing New Wireless Plans 147

Posted by Hemos
from the lotsa-bandwidth-all-the-time dept.
StDave writes "Yesterday Cisco announced a very cool technology. It is a 44Mb wireless technology that doesn't require line of sight and has a range of 30 miles. Take your ADSL line on the road with you. " Wow - they've found a way to use the "ghosting" caused by obstructions to tv and cell signals. Base units will cost around 150,000$ and the transceivers will be under 500$, with start of marketing sometime around June.
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Cisco Unveils Amazing New Wireless Plans

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  • Dear Santa,

    I've been a really good boy all year and now is the time to really show me how much being a good boy means to you. I know that 150 thousand dollars is a lot of mney but I'm sure you have an elf or two at cisco right?

  • by BJH (11355)
    I'd wait and see what sort of encryption they're going to use for this before jumping on the bandwagon. I wouldn't particularly like to have my data broadcast all over the city if all they offer is XOR "encryption"...

  • by Ex Machina (10710) <jonathan.william ... m ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday December 02, 1999 @04:33AM (#1487747) Homepage
    This kind of system gives a small to medium size isp a chance to break the monopoly on broadband (DSL/Cable) Internet connections. In my area (SE RI/MA), (Cox) cable internet is unavailable, MediaOne RoadRunner is nonexistant, DSL is a year off, T1 is overpriced and ISDN is crappy. If an existing dialup isp implimented this technology, it would be a great way to move into the high bandwidth market. Someone doing this could force broadband companies to compete, which is good.
    What about security though? I assume they'll have link level encryption.
  • Simply put, wow. ~If~ this works, it'll blow a _lot_ of ISP's out of the water. Anyone know how to write a business plan? Let's see, start with a nice dual 750 Athlon with FreeBSD...

    Dive Gear []
  • I've been looking for something like this since my days as an undergrad. Wireless has the unique ability to take all your expenditures and put them up front. I can see a local ISP buying two or three of these and having the same coverage as they do now. After that they just have to collect enough money to pay for overhead and the P&I on the loans.

    There are problems though. In my area a 30 mile radius encompasses a few million people. Is there the ability for orthogonal coding or seperate channels, or is this bandwidth shared per foot print? How many orthogonal channels are capabale in a footprint? If it's not a lot this could be worse then cable modems (I used to work with cable modems in high density installations about 10 years ago, and after the first large group gets on you wish they hadn't).
  • If I recall my Future Tech class correctly, a few cable-alternative services have been using MMDS for nearly 20 years. I'm pretty sure that Cleveland and New Orleans services still exist today. It was cheaper to set up MMDS towers than to string cable through an already-dense wire-line infrastructure, apparently. Are there other markets outside of the U.S. that currently make use of MMDS?

    Still, it's very cool to have yet another fat pipe, especially since it's wireless. I'm just sort of puzzled that the article seems to be implying that MMDS is some sort of fantastic new invention. The Cisco tech's a novel use of the spectrum, granted, but the bandwidh's been there for a while; since the beginning of time if you want to be literal ;-) Before I get myself into a cosmological debate, I'll just stop here.

  • by Amphigory (2375) on Thursday December 02, 1999 @04:36AM (#1487751) Homepage
    Is the 44Mbps shared, or 44Mbps per user?

    If shared, then over a radios of 30 miles it's not necessarily a whole lot -- especially in the city.

    If per station... err... Please mommy?

  • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Thursday December 02, 1999 @04:37AM (#1487752)
    While not terribly difficult in theory, that it works over such distances is an impressive feat of engineering. However, I would like to see how it works in the real world. If it compensates for interference by lots of resending, dropping bandwidth, that's fine, but if it cuts out, that's a problem.

    While I don't doubt the article, I want to see it in production before I praise them too much.

    One thing that I've always wondered, why do we see so few high bandwidth wireless technology. I mean, one should be able to just use more frequencies. I guess that there is a real shortage of available frequencies. I wonder how much of that is technical hurdles and how much is beaurocratic messes between the DOD, FCC, etc., fighting over it.

    Well, as IP carries more and more information, I wonder if we'll be able to reclaim all the bandwidth from audio/video broadcasts as the world moves digital. HDTV promises more (over the airwaves) channels because the signal is smaller... that seems a little silly. People that want more channels currently have Cable and DSS options, and Telephone will do so too. I think that society has more uses for the airwaves than broadcasting more garbage. As long as people get reasonable channels for their kids, news, and evening entertainment, I think that society would be better served by allowing new technologies to claim the bandwidth... but that's just me.

    On the other hand, more radio stations with lower barriers to entry (licenses trump the real expenses) so that there are real alternative stations instead of the same drivel on all of them.

  • this would be great for ant body who had the cash to start up there own isp . the only thing i can see limiting is the 30 mile radius but im thinking that extra base units would make up for that . i wonder what would be a good price for this service ?

    now only if i could get the money to start this up in my town !

    music the paint
    dancefloor the canvas
  • Two questions:

    1) What kind of security will be implemented? What kind of ecyrption will they use to make sure no one will catch all my "bits and packets" (hehehe kind of like "bits and pieces") and seeing all my pr0n?!?

    2) I have a cellular phone from a certain digital provider that will remain nameless (::cough:: sprint pcs ::cough::) and I have dropped calls ALL the time. Does anyone think this will be a problem? I don't wanna download the latest Pam Anderson video and find out the middle half of the .avi got dropped ;-)


    Child: Mommy, where do .sig files go when they die?
    Mother: HELL! Straight to hell!
    I've never been the same since.

  • Nice tech and all (I work w/Cisco prod all day long, and am a cheerleader most of the time) but there is no way that this will free us from telecoms. Distance limitations are unacceptable, unless someone wanted to build a system that bounced data from one side of the country to another using this ... and that would be very prohibitively expensive.

    I like the tech, on the other hand, if it can be developed as a service-provider based alternative to microwave. I have seen DS3 microwave systems going moderate distances across a metro area, and you end up saving the cost of the hardware very quickly when compared to paying local loop fees for that kind of circuit. If this could be rolled out by a motorola as a point-to-point connection between business buildings, with cpe hardware costing a few hundred dollars, they could bank.

    Maybe that mythical Metro Area Network will emerge eventually, after all...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 02, 1999 @04:47AM (#1487760)
  • You or the ISP could use any security you want. It sounds like CISCO has solved the hardware and other technical problems of wireless networking. Software would probably be up to the ISP. As for PCS, I have AT&T and have NEVER had a dropped call even when I left the central caslling area for the back woods.
  • Hmm,
    Here in the UK, BT have announced that a 512Kbs ADSL line will cost the end user 50 pounds a month plus installation and equipment costs. If this new Cisco wireless stuff really can give me 44Mbs all to myself with no connect charges... I'll buy one straight away.
    Hopefully Cisco won't delay selling this stuff in the UK. (which is what normally happens) I could see quite a few people in the UK switching to this kind of technology if it can deliver what it promises. (Like we all believe press releases...)

    Where do I sign up?

    On another note, if I could get 44Mbs over 30 miles, would I get 4.4Mbs over 300 miles? I realise that is an oversimplification, but 4Mbs+ over 100s of miles would be a godsend to countries with poor infrastructure (e.g. Africa, Russia)
  • Why do geeks want portable technology? Are you always on the move? I'm not (well, I go to school every day but if I didn't I wouldn't be).
  • testes, you ass...
  • by Anonymous Coward ions/wireless/faq.html Q. What does "Broadband Fixed Wireless" mean? A. Broadband defines communication with data rates exceeding 1.5 Mbps. Fixed wireless is not mobile wireless, which allows users mobility while using the service. Fixed wireless is communications to buildings or a cell site, which does not move.
  • Being that I agree with Ex Machina, I do not see how this got moderated to 'flamebait'? What argument would flame this besides maybe an exec from MCI or the cable co.?
    I just do not see an opposing viewpoint.

    I guess the moderator works for the cable co!
  • by jd (1658) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Thursday December 02, 1999 @04:56AM (#1487768) Homepage Journal
    The Government is considering allocating frequencies for car navigation systems. CISCO comes out with a device which would essentially permit cars to transmit/receive large volumes of information in real-time.


    Maybe so, but even if it is, you've now got virtually all the ingredients needed for "car traffic control" systems. All you'd need, to finish it off, would be some decent sensors on the cars, to detect what objects are near, and some means for a central computer to determine optimal paths.

    The latter part is almost done, with existing car navigation systems, but this would need to be a bit more refined.

    I see a lot of potential for this device, far beyond mere wireless web surfing.

  • If a company is big, it always tramples on small ones, even without noticing. To compensate, it should bring big and positive changes. Cisco would be a worthwhile big company if it delivers this.
  • i wonder why this would preclude mobile operations, though? i imagine it would relatively trivial to set up a repeater system, linked to a server bank.

    regardless, i can't wait to see the antennae sprouting up everywhere! beautiful! :)

  • I agree too, remembering the pain ISDN problems (read lack of service for weeks while getting the runaround from BellSouth) and have dreamed of bypassing the phone company with microwaves. The $150,000 seems a bit steep, but I guess that's the price for a massive base station.

    It would be nice to see something I can afford for my own little network. I hope the $500 units have an option network together in the spirit of the internet. I'm using the 2mbps Zoomair modems around my neighborhood in a simple network. Too bad they don't cover the city . . .
  • Took me 3 minutes to put the words together.

  • While I'd like some more technical information on this, my first thought was that this may be the (relatively) inexpensive solution we're looking for to solve the infamous "last mile" problem.

    I'm not sure how much it costs to lay fiber, but I'm willing to bet it's not cheap. I'm betting it's even more expensive in more dense, urban areas. While your average Joe can't afford to cough up $150K for the base unit, your average telco *can*.

    Imagine getting your home net access wirelessly. Your ISP could sell or lease you the receiver unit in much the same way that some people lease their cable modems. The connection speeds are higher anyway (is this 44 megabits shared? anyone know?).

    The increasing use of wireless networking technology has us all focused on dinky little PDA things, dreaming of roaming connectivity. It had never even dawned on me that wireless connections might be the solution to the last mile problem.

    I'd be a little worried if I was a cable provider...


    Segmentation fault (core dumped)
  • According to the article:

    "Cisco technology in the base station would allow 3,000 simultaneous users to receive data 1,000 times faster than they would from a typical voice line."

    For 3000 simultaneous users at ~28k, you'd need about 80meg. For 3000 at 1000x ~28k, you'd need an 80,000meg pipe (~80Gb). Someone please check my numbers, because either the article is fscked or I can't do simple arithmetic.
  • In an attempt to resolve a problem that has plagued television watchers and cellular phone users in big cities for years, Cisco plans to market technology that essentially harnessesand redirects the voice and data microwave signals that bounce off many obstructions in large cities.

    What about rural areas in the Midwest U.S.? Can they take advantage of this? Or rural areas in the Appalachias? Can mountains obstruct signals like buildings? If not, rural mom 'n pop ISPs will not be able to justify the expense, placing rural areas at yet another disadvantage. Still, sounds really cool.

  • You do all use your own end to end encryption over any comunications link anyhow. Don't you?
  • Why do you feel will it blow ISP's out of the water? Someone has to provide the pipe to the backbone and that's what the ISP's are there for. What this will eliminate is the phone company. And lower the costs of phone lines to an ISP. Imagine owning an ISP and not having to pay for 10,000 customer phone lines each month and just paying the one time cost for one $150,000 base station. Looks like a good deal to me.
  • I was thinking about this as well. How many of these setups could be within that 30 mile radius?
    What I am thinking about is how apartments in urban areas, such as New York, Chicago, LA, could speed things up with these. With 3000 users on a such a setup, it would require more than 300 of such units for a population of one million... Even more in the major urbanc areas.
  • by revnight (8980) on Thursday December 02, 1999 @05:12AM (#1487782)
    On another note, if I could get 44Mbs over 30 miles, would I get 4.4Mbs over 300 miles? I realise that is an oversimplification,
    but 4Mbs+ over 100s of miles would be a godsend to countries with poor infrastructure (e.g. Africa, Russia)
    ------------------------------------------------ --

    no, probably not, i'm afraid. the article didn't say anything about what kind of frequencies were involved, but if they are using vhf/uhf/microwave/etc., which they almost assuredly are, then line of sight is about the limit (i'm only talking about the distance the radio waves will travel, not how the technology will compensate for buildings and such.)

    really, it would depend upon how high up they got the antenna. if you had a mountain nearby, it could conceivably cover much, much more than 30 miles...doubtful this would be the common situation, i'm afraid.

  • by Gurlia (110988) on Thursday December 02, 1999 @05:13AM (#1487783)

    Sure, usually when "real" leading-edge (or bleeding edge) technology gets to common people like us, it has been "there" for long years. (Though, in the software world the timescale is many months rather than many years). It always takes somebody to take the step to implement something based on that technology so that it is accessible to the public.

    Just like most new OS technology/concepts usually goes around only in academic circles for a while, before somebody in the industry decides to actually use it to produce "real" OS's for people to use. (Eg. witness how many years behind Windows is in terms of OS design? Even Linux is still based on macrokernel design, and very few people even know about Hurd which is based on microkernels -- arguably the "front-line" of OS research. But by now, there's probably already something newer.).

    It's always easy to criticize in retrospect (yeah Cisco didn't do anything like, new, this MMDS stuff's been around for 20 years, yeah but nobody except researchers could use it until now.) Just like Columbus said that he can stand an egg upright. When greeted by disbelief, he proceed to simply crack the bottom of the egg slightly on the table so that it would not roll over. The people then criticized, "That's cheesy, I knew how to do that all along!" It takes a pioneer to take what looks like an "obvious step" in retrospect.

    Back to my point: I think it's a good thing Cisco took this step to make this technology available to people. I wouldn't be so quick to point out, like the people who criticized Columbus, "but hey, this technology's been around for so long!" Having said that, let me just add the standard disclaimer: I do not intend this as flamebait, nor am I trying to criticize Chris or anybody else. Just pointing out something... (you never know how people can misread you on Slashdot, better disclaim everything!) :-) And of course, if this technology is going to be available any time soon, I want to try it!!

  • I would imagine that being a wireless connection, that would be 44Mbps per user; the real bottleneck will occur with a packed station carrying nearly 3,000 independant connections that have to go through the land line connected to the base station. Of course, they could nail an OC-3 to it, but what is that going to translate to in terms of cost for the end user? At least the cost of the base station is negligable; $150,000 to support 3,000 users comes down to only $50 a user, although the receiver that the user has to have is $500. Those prices will come down, too, so it will be an even bigger bargain, particularly when talking about billing a customer monthly. :) All of this is theoretical, of course, but this new tech may be the real high speed access method that replaces dial-up, as long as its more reliable than the problematic cable and DSL solutions.

  • Sorry about the double post, my first time and I may have screwed it up :) Is this use of the "ghosting" really new? It is common practice in digitial wireless technology to use a RAKE receiver structure to resolve the reflections and recombine them to use the reflected power in addition to the line of sight path. Id be more curious to see what spectrum they are using and how their broadcast bandwidth efficency and absolute bandwidth compare to current technologies. I would think that that would make the definable difference. BTW 30 miles in an urban terain is going to require a _LOT_ of power, espically if the 44Mbps is not shared.
  • Why don't telcos just run fiber to each house? Physical connections are very expensive. May I recommend the hobby of packet radio to you? Its a very cheap way to send packets over a network that can be independent of a monopoly or one central location.
  • Geeks want portable networks and computers because it's generally assumed that if you can bring your network wherever you go, you will suddenly end up going to the pub, discos and friends more often, thus having some sort of life. It wouldn't actually be like that of course, but it's a nice enough thought.
  • Kinda lame attempt at posting flamebait...

    IMO- My guide to flamebait on /. is to post stuff about how the newest technology has really been around for years, or to misspell something, or to post something mathematically (or technologically) inaccurately.
  • Doesn't it seem like the days of the high powered transmitter broadcasting 80,000 watts of music power are over? I predict there will no longer be high powered TV and radio transmitters but instead we'll have small transcevers on every block covering just that block, channeling TV and radio on demand over the same protocols as internet traffic. They're already going to deallocate the FM, AM, and TV bands. Why not just make that the end of high powered transmissions and make us all use cell recievers.
  • by HeghmoH (13204)
    I started reading this story and thinking about the Airport base station and transciever card I just got for my iBook yesterday. 150ft range or so, fast, works great, but this thing puts it all to shame.

    Then I read how much it cost.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think you're off - but they can't be right either.

    Where you make a mistake: A 56K bits modem transfers (about) 6K bytes/second compressed and 12K bytes/second uncompressed. That's what I see, so feel free to give me alternate numbers if I'm in error.

    If we take 1/2 of the uncompressed rate to simulate a 28K modem and multiply it by 1000 then by 3000, and divide by 1024 to get K bytes, we get;

    6144x1000x3000/1024=18,000,000 (K bytes)
    18,000,000/1024=17,578.125 (M bytes)

    17,578 MB/second is still impressive ... except that the other numbers they provided don't match this.

    Using the $150,000 transmitter cost divided across the 3,000, this would break down to a one-time cost of $50 at the transmitter. Hell, any medium-sized community could easily afford one of those things. Yet, the 80meg transfer rate doesn't match the 44Mb (not MB) transfer rate. There's some loss or delay that must be accounted for -- and I don't see it.

    The only way this makes any sense is that they are taking into account delays and pauses typical in sending the packets, or maybe they bunch up the packets per-user -- actually transmit to a fraction of the users -- and then call this "simultaneous".
  • I'm surprised at the amount of response to what is basically puffery from Cisco marketing. Those of us in DC or San Francisco have been able to use Ricochet wireles for a few years now. True, the speed is 28.8 kbps, but Metricom is rolling out R2 in early 2000 to 28 markets. R2 will be ~128kbps, fully wireless, and work at up to 70 miles per hour, i.e. driving down the highway. It's been testing okay, and should be priced between $50-100 per month. IMHO, this is a lot more interesting right now. Yours truly, Mr. X
  • Greeting from Newbridge Networks, where wireless LMDS networks (higher microwave frequencies used = MORE bandwidth) are already available TODAY! Read about it now! [] Come get your OC-3 or T1 pipe... ethernet available too...

    Just so you know, I write this from the background of a hardware engineer in the Wireless group at Newbridge. If you have any questions, please post them. I'll be watching. Otherwise, try emailing me at "myname"

    I have SOOO many comments to make, I'm going to have to make them in point form otherwise I'll be here all day. So, here we go:

    1. What Cisco is proposing using multipath effects to avoid the line-of-sight problems is asking a LOT. I really doubt this is possible. I was involved in a research project over a year ago that basically ruled out this from being possible.

    problem A: If you use a non directional antenna (easiest to set up, no alignment issues) you are then presented with the amount of processing needed to weed out signal from reflections - it is enormous. Your antenna also has no gain - a big problem with lossy low power MMDS or LMDS systems. No signal = lots of noise = low bandwidth or high error rate.

    problem B: The other problem is cost to install a system like this. Lets say you find a nice shiny building to bounce your microwave signal off of. It's a LOT tougher to align your dish antenna to a unknown point on a building (trial and error) then to point your dish to a fixed known point. This could NOT be done by joe blow on his roof - you would need a pro installer to do this with specialized test equipment = $$$$$! You also need to do LOTS of thinking about what reflection you are going to use - too much work to make it cheap. TIME = $$$$.
    The numbers they are quoting sound like marketing magic.

    Enough marketing hoopla. Check out what we built... and you can have today!

    Here's a few more links for you. Good techie stuff.

    Check out: How to maximize the use of your available spectrum []


    Newbridge features, like QOS and awesome network management. Does CISCO offer this end to end networking? I think not. []

    More points:

    This technology doesn't work on the move. It isn't meant for vehicle platforms. Fixed sites only.

    30 MILE range? I think not. NO WAY they could get regulated. Think of the interference problems on adjacent cells, especially since they are using the multipath effects.

    Typical cell sizes for LMDS MMDS systems are around 4 Km. (2.5 miles)

    ISP's love this stuff because it can get them into peoples homes - last mile. Don't need cable, dont need phone lines.

    If you have any questions, please post em. Man, the signal to noise ratio in this topic has been pretty bad. I hope this helps clear a few things up.
  • I didn't see in the article which range of bandwidth this uses, but I'm guessing from the price that it's not public 10.4Ghz. My company is a Lucent WaveLan reseller, which runs in this public range -- as do microwave ovens and other troublesome devices.

    Leasing spectrum drives up the cost of these devices considerably.


  • by fuzzybunny (112938) on Thursday December 02, 1999 @05:50AM (#1487806) Homepage Journal
    GSM/SMS is, more than anything else, a toy. Currently, it's not implemented at anything over 14,000bps, and the error checking done at the base stations knocks it down to 9600. It's fine for alphanumeric paging (via SMS) and caller ID, but then again, TAP messaging (used by your boring old pager) works just as well, and call origin is also no big deal.

    Also, European mobile phones generally use the 900mhz band. All US cell phone providers I am aware of use 1900mhz, so unless you have a dual-band phone using that wavelength, you're SOL (many European dual-band phones use 900/1800.) In any case, most dual-band European phones I've tried in the US have poor range compared to local PCS phones.

    What I really want to see is the toys Qualcomm [] was talking about a while back. That'd really make wireless data traffic fun. And if this Cisco bit can do even local roaming, like ricochet, you're still doing very well.

  • There could be potential competitors to the cable and phone companies in your local town! This would be very good .... I'd guess the best thing would be to partner with the broadcast TV or satelite TV people to provide competing packages with cable.

    At 150k/base station it's gotta be comparable to cable/DSL (if you can serve something in the 800 customers range).

  • Not to be too picky, but that wasn't Columbus. It was actually the Renaissance architect Fillipo Brunelleschi (maybe I spelled that right??) in Florence, Italy. To the actual point, Cisco isn't promising 44Mbps. In their specifications for the wireless modem card for the uBR7200 series router, they are very careful to point out that the data rate may be up to 44Mbps if you have a 12Mhz channel. If you only get a 6Mhz channel, the best you could hope for is 22Mbps. Still, even if there is a loss of 50% on the data rate, even at the lower input bandwidth, the speed is still substantially better than the G.Lite speeds being offered by DSL carriers in my part of the world (if you're fortunate enough to have your line qualify). Also, those are full duplex data rates, so you don' thave the upstream/downstream issues you get with ADSL. I'd definitely be willing to try it. I only wish I had the funds to get to become one of those lucky ISPs to get it first :)
  • I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for strong link encryption. The last time I looked at wireless LAN transceivers, the products that had link encryption were limited to NSA friendly 40-bit keys. Digital wireless phones are even worse. The NSA and FBI say "jump", the vendors ask "how high?".

  • At 2.5 - 2.68 GHz I wouldn't stand in front of the transmitting gunplexor.
  • The fact that it's wireless is irrelevant. It doesn't matter what medium the signal travels through, whether it's air or copper, bandwidth is bandwidth. It's dependant on the transmission frequency. If the transmitting tower is only capable of a total aggregate bandwitdh of 44Mbps, then it has to be shared by all users of that tower.

    Probably what will happen is that you will have to purchase levels of service like with ADSL, rather than a single speed level that's shared by all users (like cable modems).
  • This kind of system gives a small to medium size isp a chance to break the monopoly on broadband (DSL/Cable) Internet connections

    You're joking, right? $150k base station cost? What of a tower? Another $15-20k there... Small to medium-sized ISPs can't hardly swallow $50-$75k startup costs!
  • The article talks about using the ghosting effect caused by office blocks etc.

    So, will it work in the areas that need bandwidth the most- RURAL areas?

    I don't understand why there is such a rush to provide more and more bandwidth for cities. Surely the bandwidth shortage is in rural areas, which often can't get ISDN let alone cable or ADSL? And why the hell would anyone want to work from home if their office was less than five miles away?

    I'll never understand those townie folk... :-)


  • In fact, I get my TV signal at home over a MMDS link today. It's been available for about 3 months here in Ottawa, and it is sweet. They are planning to roll out high-speed internet access early in 2000.

    But I think the Cisco technology differs in that it allows you to not require a line-of-sight to the transmitter. I have a 15ft pole on the top of my house with a directional antena on it so I can receive the signal. Lots of places (downtown, wrong side of an apartment building, etc.) can't get the service since they are not line-of-sight right now. This tech from Cisco would fix that.

  • by emmons (94632)
    yeah, this is exciting tech... maybe for a large corporation with many buildings all over a city, when you don't want to string fiber everywhere. That can get expensive. A half mil for the base and 150k a base is a tad expensive for home users. Intercity backbones baby. Large businesses will use this for their _really_fast_ net access, without buying an OC3.

  • while i agree with you that its a good thing that cisco came out with this, MMDS _has_ been availible to consumers for at _least_ a year (the company i work for has been reselling the product at least since i joined a year ago.)
  • This is either absolutely incredible or incorrect, as it would be the first commercial wireless product to do multiple symbols per wavelength.

    Perhaps it's 12 and 6 GHz instead of MHz?

    If it is GHz, it's still incredible that they can go 30 miles with it and/or (which is it? :) do non-line-of-sight connections.

    Radio waves bounce off of buildings really well, the signal is still quite intact, the only problem is you get multiple signals due to multiple bounce paths to you, each one slightly delayed by a different amount (speed of light isn't so fast anymore once you deal with picosecond waves).

    Looking at the technical specs it appears they not only worked around this problem but somehow used it to their advantage [].

  • Let's also not confuse with Sisco, the food distributor.

    Although I heard that they were trying to cash in on all of the Internet hype by developing a line of snackable network switches.
  • Every one seems to be forgetting the cost of plugging the base station into the backbone when they are talking about this being a cheap way for small ISPs to get a leg up.

  • If anyone out there has some secret connection to buy 400km of fibre I'd love to hear it. No one talks about this for some reason. Its not price/installation/right-of-way/etc.... Its that you can't buy the stuff. It's like RAM except worse!!! If your telco doesn't have a contract dating back with Corning or someone a few years then there will not be any fibre for them to install in the coming years.....
  • Seriously, can you really expect companies to even focus on provide high bandwidth solutions for even small towns? The cost is too staggering and for them not to make that money back. Rural support would almost be out of the question. Just thank God for your ISDN line (if you have that much).

    Hell, they (Telco) don't even have the big cities rolled out yet. I cannot get SDSL to my apartment as of yet. Luckily I have Cable Modem but that still prevents me from running web/ftp servers from my home.

    ChozSun [e-mail] [mailto]
  • In fact to make an egg stand upright, you don't have to crach the bottom at all!!

    Put the (uncooked) egg on its large base, hold it for some time (warning it can take some time!) and release the egg: it will stand still because the yellow part of the egg is heavier than the white part... Of course, it isn't very stable, but it works!!

    I wonder.. if this post will be marked as interesting or off-topic ??
  • Aah, hopeful thinking. And if environment forces social activity on you like it does to me, I can always hide in my shell, tapping TI calculator. I see. (Why I'm not marked flamebait, don't they hate when someone uses stereotypic and incorrect geek images?)
  • I've been reading Slashdot for quite some time, and at least once a month, there is an article about a new high-bandwidth technology that's going to change the world. All I have to say is... WHERE IS IT!

    I live in a fairly large city. I already get cable TV in my house. In 1998, my cable company said to wait for next year. They are still saying the same thing this year. This is all while I have read numerous press releases about my cable company (Comcast) signing a contract with @Home.

    DSL? Naw... I have checked all the DSL providers I could think of, and then I looked some more up and checked those. None of them offer DSL service in my area.

    Am I the only one that's in a situation like this? I can imagine that if this is happening in a fairly large city (Philadelphia, for the curious) that the situation is even worse elsewhere. (No, I'm not saying that Philadelphia is the center of the world, but it is a fairly large and known city.)

  • The nerve! How dare these guys force you to sit and read Slashdot stories when you obviously have better things to do! I mean please, your life of childish name-calling and corrections of minor character misuse is a demanding one, you can't be forced to sit and read sites like this one with your on-the-go lifestyle. I for one say that you should write your congressman and make them do something about this injustice!

  • They do specify Mhz as the channel rates. Check out the tech specs at reless/wspg/wspgapb.htm.

    It appears that this would be each user's individual channel rate, not a shared bandwidth situation

  • by Anonymous Coward
    There are a few issues with high speed wireless data that Cisco has failed to mention in their press release.. The first and most important issue is the fact that they don't mention spectrum and/or frequency range per channel... These are so important due to the fact that if you have a system that uses frequencies that are expensive/impossible to license you have a dead product... The spectrum of that frequency that is used per base station, user etc.. Is important because if you purchase a 100mhz block and have to use 20mhz for each "node" on the cell site, and the fcc only allows that portion of the spectrum to be overlapped in an oh so finite way.. It could become impossible to make money of this thing becuase you can't deploy it. This product has to use a high frequency, (+2ghz) and use a large portion of the spectrum to achieve it's data rates.. (20mhz or more) At least to achieve those data rates consistently at long distances. The problem with a small spectrum lotsa signalling (datarate) and long distances is that it will become harder to filter out what is data and what is noise. You can only fit so many oscillations in the wavepath before even minute changes make it impossible to reliably communicate a signal. Your only options then are to make the wavelength longer in the same space of time (more spectrum) or to get really fast, and accurate chips to decode those wavelengths reliably. Then the question is raised.. Just use a really long wavelength!.. Problem with that is that you have then a signal degeneration issue due to the fact that different frequencies travel ever so slightly differently through the air. And when they get to the destination, can be just as impossible to determine if that wavelength was signalled in the same slot or the next slot.. Slow down the slots and now you have a inherently lagged to hell system... Bottom line on this cisco thing is that you get 44mbps directly below the tower, but the reliable data rate actually ends up being 20mbps 5 miles out... 10mbps 10miles out, and 5 at 15miles, etc.. etc.. If that.... (don't count on it due to the fact that theoretically you could do this on paper, but factor in environmentals and you go to hell)... Oh yes, did I mention that these are probably FULL duplex rates? Realization on a download or upload will only be half of the above advertised value in the press release.. (unless of course you are doing both u/ling and d/ling at the same time OF COURSE assuming that your modems are not asymmetrical... Bottom line, it's cisco's hype to try and capture a market before it actually gets a product... Benchmarketing has been around for a long time... Wait until real world trials and test data come back from this whizbang technology...
  • End-to-end encryption only works if the other end does it, too. Even then you are subject to traffic analysis, unless you use encrypted tunneliing to some unrelated server.

    Of course encrypted tunneling to a server solves the on-the-air-in-the-clear problem, too. (But it also provides a fixed central location for a physical tap.)

    Perhaps a plurality of encrypted-tunnel servers? B-)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Cheaper and *Faster*: Check out the 2011DS units. With this system, you can get upwards of 150Mbps of aggregate bandwidth per tower/building. The 'trancievers' are more expensive, but are full-fledged routers, with a big feature set, and great throughput. The base station cost is less than 1/3 for a maxxed out rooftop.
  • Absolutely, it's a start ... as microwave systems were also a start. Problem here is that your basic distribution systems are all fiber-based. Satellite (in current form) is too latent, RF or Microwave doesn't go far enough clean enough, etc. etc.

    So even if it is built in such a way that you are freed from the local loop charges of your DSL line, the cost is still going to be handed to you by your provider as they have to pay localtelco for local loop charges on the circuits they add to take care of increased capacity, and long-haul carriers for more backbone capacity, and so on.

    An even better start, in my mind, would be to design a system like this that does voice/vid/data, and frees you as a consumer from Ma Bell's + Cableco's presence in your house. Of course, that requires 99.999% reliability, and all that, so it is a long way off.

  • The use of ghosting is to get around things that block line-of-sight. In rural areas you don't have a forest of buildings. If it's flat, you have line of sight. If it's hilly, treat the hills as "buildings" and pick up a ghost.

    If it's a forest of trees you might have a problem.
  • This is reminding me why I left the clutches of BT.

    Here in Canada, I can get a 1.5Mb ADSL for $39 (About 17 pounds). The US is even cheaper.

  • What Cisco is proposing using multipath effects to avoid the line-of-sight problems is asking a LOT. I really doubt this is possible. I was involved in a research project over a year ago that basically ruled out this from being possible.

    problem A: If you use a non directional antenna (easiest to set up, no alignment issues) you are then presented with the amount of processing needed to weed out signal from reflections - it is enormous.
    Your antenna also has no gain - a big problem with lossy low power MMDS or LMDS systems. No signal = lots of noise = low bandwidth or high error rate.

    Why not use a vaguely-directional antenna (no serious alignment problems, picks up primary and/or several major ghosts), then pick the strongest handful of unmoving signals, delay them into sync, and add them? (I thought the latter was what Metricom was already doing with their non-directional antenna.)

    The box might take a minute or so to train itself on startup. But with the base and remote fixed the training wouldn't have to be tweaked in real-time after that.

    Is there something I've missed?

  • To me this sounds more like something that an ISP would be using to link large buisnesses and "remote" links that are within 30 miles of them in situations where it not be economical to use underground/overground wiring; where existing fiber/HS telco lines are already hoarded/owned by others that realized its value and got it "cheap"... The difference between this and microwave technology used by ISPs is (1) speed, and (2) the (non) line of sight capability.
  • There's a nice article on LMDS service in this month's Wired. It focuses on WinStar, but mentions other players. The article mentions that MMDS (multichannel multipoint distribution) suffers a performance hit similar to cable-modem users since "it's a system where all users share the same signal". Also mentioned is that MCI WorldCom has been buying into a number of companies that own 2-3 GHz spectrum.

  • Is the 44Mbps shared, or 44Mbps per user?

    For what it's worth; the following is from NewsScan Daily:

    Cisco Systems has provided more details on its new wireless strategy (NewsScan Daily 29 Nov 99), which uses MMDS technology (multichannel multipoint distribution services) to eliminate the "ghosting" phenomenon that distorts TV pictures and interrupts cell phone calls in large cities. Saying its goal is "to build alternative access technologies and provide consistent service delivery" over any type of communications device, Cisco's system will allow 3,000 simultaneous users to receive data 1,000 times faster than from a typical voice line. Transceiver equipment costing less than $500 could be marketed to consumers by mid-2000. (AP/San Jose Mercury News 1 Dec 99)
    http://www.sjmer []

  • Anyone else see the link to Slashdot: The Broadband Wars [] on the sidebar that called /. an "informative forum"? They must have their threshold really high.
  • Well, keep in mind that Sprint's network is fairly new in respect to other wireless phone tech that's currently out there. The cell sites are short range (no more than a few miles), and from what I hear, it costs about $1,000,000 to put up such a site (equipment costs + local lisencing). I don't have a problem with dropped calls at all (SF bay area).

    But anyway, back on topic, you will eventually have the same problem with this tech. If some ISP out there decides to throw these things up on towers, the cost per tower would be about the same (or more). You are still going to have a problem with loss of service when you exceed the 30 mile range. Only way (that I can think of) to remove this limitation is to go with satilite communications (like those phones that will go anywhere in the world and cost $1/min). If someone does build such a network with this tech, it will have the same problem you are having with your cellular service durring the first few years.

    -- PC^God --
  • Sorry if this sounds picky (read: feel free to moderate this down), but having worked at Radio Snack (glad to finally be out of there) in SF bay area, I do know a good deal about wireless phones. In this area, the only provider I know of that uses GSM is PacBell PCS. Their service is ok, but I got some degree of static when I used their service. Most of the providers of digital cellular service here operate at 800MHz, wether it be TDMA (Cellular One) or CDMA (GTE). This allows them to use Dual Mode (as apposed to Dual Mode/Dual Band) phones for when there is no digital service. You can still use the analog network (which is also at 800MHz). The PCS providers use 1900 MHz for their service (CDMA for Sprint PCS and GSM for PacBell PCS).

    Not that anyone here probably cares... I'm done now :-)

    -- PC^God --
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Its basically the same reason people once made the clock a portable unit... because sometimes want to bring the source of some info with you. Imagine a world where the only clocks are water driven monsters weighing a quarter ton, or if there were no pencils and pens, only 200lb typewriters. As far as a user is concerned, the internet is NOT everywhere, it is only at the places where it can be accessed. Well dammit, I don't want to have to drive across town just to surf slashdot! remainder is semi off topic: FYI there's a term for what mobile connections will bring about: "Ubiquitous Computing". The sweet thing there is that you carry around your palmtop (by then, wristtop? braintop?) and use it from wherever you are to access powerful facilities, like yonder supercomputer or your home machine. With ubiquitous computation comes a world-shaker unto itself, ubiquitous telecommunication; This will probably make or break whether a country is considered "first world" in the next century, much as literacy and industralization did in the past. A thought: Imagine yourself in 2099; you buy a new watch, load BSD on it and register with a local data commune. You now enjoy a highband, low latency link to a nearby urban work cluster; If latency is low enough and bandwidth marginally high enough, you can use the watch like those rinky dink old terminals you sometimes see. Your session will be served by the machines you log in to and all the number crunching will be done remotely; also if you download an MP3 from somewhere, it gets shoved onto your host in like .0001 sec, from where it can be streamed to your ears instantly. Call Tokyo from Greenland for no charge (above your flat connectiont fee). Sell all your shares of M$ in the blink of a gavel. Tell your wife you love her in the middle of the workday. All these things and more may sound pie in the sky right now, but our grandkids are going to wonder how we lived without it the way we take things like electricity, telephony and indoor plumbing for granted (the toilet is a recent invention compared to a lot of things!!!). As far as having a powerful computer on your person, instead of just a remote link to one, that's not (imho) going to be an issue until power users start needing to do mobile, real time processing of local data. E.g, using your watch to detect and filter multiple nearby conversations, doing realtime visual ID, running version X.3 of your personal AI autosecretary.... The question isn't whether it's possible to sell it affordably and soon to the consumer... it's whether the telcos and governments and such are willing to let "the masses" (namely you and me) have these things. The totally gutless, and completely anonymous -Coward A witty saying proves nothing. -Voltaire
  • Seems to me that both LMDS and MMDS were the subject of FCC auctions and that you can run a site unless you own the licence. and their are only one or two licences per goegraphic "cell" just like cellular licences, can anyone confirm this?
  • This is old news. Making multipath interference work for you instead of against you has been done in digital communications for quite a while now. In consumer electronics, it's an integral feature of the CDMA cellular/pcs technology.

    (Insert blatant Qualcomm plug here.)

  • If this is using the technology I think it is(the article wasn't very specific) interference actually helps. The reciever uses the signal reflections, caused by the obstructions, as a type of error checking. Basicly the reciever recieves 10-20 copies of the transmission because of signal reflections. Most other applications try to filter this out, but this technology uses it as error checking.

    At least if this is the same technology I am thinking of. I think it is, because they made such a large point out of obstructions.
  • Just as a followup, most areas of the US are similar. When Cell phone service was introduced in the early 80s, markets were divided up into two bands at 900Mhz. Additional competitors are on the PCS bands (isn't there more than just one in the Bay Area?)

    In most cases, the local phone company has the first band, but California is a little different because PacBell spun off their wireless business and later decided to get back in with PCS.
  • How can you compare a mobile 128kbps system to a fixed 44Mbps link?

    And why is everyone against Cisco, saying "oh, this is not new" or "it's just marketing BS".

    Well, for your information it IS new. There is no other comparable solution in the market for fixed long-range high speed non-line-of-sight communication.

  • > This technology doesn't work on the move. It isn't meant for vehicle platforms. Fixed sites only.

    What type of modulation/access scheme does newbridge use for it wireless systems (if you don't mind me asking)?

    I heard that ofdm (a.k.a. MCM or even cofdm) (used in digital radio/tv (not hdtv)) has great multipath resistance and can performed with doppler shifts up to 400km/h (i think). Any reason why this is not used? I can see that it would be dificult to use for the uplink, but I don't see why it couldn't be used for downlink.

  • The article does not say if this is a two way service or how it works. The transmit bases I am assuming is high powered so the 'bouncing' off buildings and such will work well but for the low power return path this might not work so well. Also, it seems that doing this method of transmitting might reduce your ability of doing cellularization with MMDS.. Comments?
  • The bandwidth is defined as per user.
    The link previously posted is reless/wspg/wspgapb.htm has all the details, the bandwidth allocated is 6MHz or 12MHz per user! Thus allowing approx 22Mb or 44Mb connections respectively.

    I wanna live in a van, and stick an appropriate atenna of my roof to get this access. That would be cool!
  • The trend over the past few years has been to get fewer fixed wireless devices (such as television) and throw that bandwidth to moble devices. For example, older TVs used to go up to channel 83 UHF. Now they only go to chan 69. The bandwidth was used for AMPS cell phones. The same plan is on tap for HDTV. All HDTV will be UHF, and the gvt hopes to auction the freed-up bandwith.

    Remember that most of the available bandwith in the US is reserved for Military use. That's not likely to change any time soon. Also, there is not much really useful bandwidth available. If the frequency is too high, it is easily blocked. Too low, and it becomes tough to call something portable (1/4 wave dipole antenna is mesured in feet). That's one of the big reasons the VHF channels are where they are (and FM radio). The wavelength is just right.

  • 300 miles is outside the range of ground wave, except for maybe high-power medium frequency waves where the bandwidth is very poor (think broadcast AM) and only under very good circumstances.

    You'd have to either do satellite (earth-moon-earth anyone? :) or sky wave.

    UHF and up is very practical with satellite because you can retain line of sight, however the cost could be prohibitive. Also going that far up in the sky and back down again increases latency.

    Sky wave limits the frequencies you can use - the best frequency depends on whether it's day or night (at both locations), how many sunspots there are, etc, because only those frequencies bounce off the various layers of the ionosphere, which constantly varies. Also 300 miles would most likely put you in the skip zone (the area not covered by either sky wave or ground wave).

  • by Anonymous Coward
    You can have the most secure, kick ass encryption algorithm in the world, but if its not implemented correctly all that work is thrown out of the window. Most bad guys will not attack the algorithm head on, but rather find loopholes around it, they will attack PRNGs, the hardware, etc. Unless a standard is set that adequately covers encryption and its implementation, vendors or even worse, end users will be responsible for ensuring security and privacy. The 802.11 wireless standard is in my opinion useless. The WEP only suggests at a minimum 40bit algorithms. One can bruteforce 40 bit keyspaces very quickly these days. Also, it doesn't cover the protection of header information. You would still be able to gather usage stats about access points. Users of this technology could be potentially tracked. - PhuzzyL0gik
  • not to be technical, but actually it's Sysco - they have a warehouse on I79 outside of Pittsburgh...
  • The press articles are leaving out a lot of details. This is about MMDS, a spectrum originally raffled off as "wireless cable". That didn't fly in many cases and the companies largely went bankrupt. Within the past year, Worldcom has bought most of them up, with Sprint picking up most of the others. One per city, so that's it -- other ISPs Need Not Apply.

    Cisco's contribution is, per some articles I've read, Vector Orthoganal Frequency Division Multiplexing. It's a way of surviving multipath. It's not a panacaea for line of sight problems; rather, it means that if you can get the signal via one or more paths (vs. "just one" using some other codes), the multipath won't clobber it.

    NYNEX was going to use MMDS here in Boston, but they discovered that the licensee's network didn't reach more than 2/3 of households. You do need something resembling line of sight at 2.5 GHz. Although VOFDM might make do with a more indirect path than plain old TV did.
  • I'm not sure how much it costs to lay fiber, but I'm willing to bet it's not cheap. I'm betting it's even more expensive in more dense, urban areas. While your average Joe can't afford to cough up $150K for the base unit, your average telco *can*.

    That isn't to say, however, that your average telco *will*. On a whim, I called BellAtlantic early last summer inquiring about broadband in my area. I was informed that my exchange didn't even support ISDN. I'd have to be "virtually hosted," which is to say that I'd have to pay for them to string a line from my neighboring exchange--$200 more at install, Either $30 or $50 more a month, and, I think, $0.02-$0.05/minute more.

    When dealing with corporations, don't make the mistake of equating "can" with "will."
  • Let's also not confuse with Sisco, the food distributor.
    You mean Sysco. :)
  • problem A: If you use a non directional antenna (easiest to set up, no alignment issues) you are then presented with the amount of processing needed to weed out signal from reflections - it is enormous. Your antenna also has no gain - a big problem with lossy low power MMDS or LMDS systems. No signal = lots of noise = low bandwidth or high error rate.
    I assume you're referring to using decision feedback equalization (DFE) to mitigate the Inter-symbol interference (ISI). This technique is absolutely unreasonable in non-LOS environments. The processing power required is exponential with bandwidth.

    It isn't, however, too difficult to frequency multiplex (FDM) a large number of narrowband signals into the same wide-band. As bandwidth increases, more narrow-bands are added. As long as these bands are small enough, ISI is decreases to the point that no extra compensation is required. Voila: linear complexity increase with bandwidth.

    Now, you're probably thinking "what about guard bands? They'll eat your bandwidth for lunch." Nope. Using orthogonal FDM (OFDM), the signal is coded such that guard bands aren't necessary. If you really want the nitty gritty, check out this page []
  • There must not be enough of us in the rural areas to count.

    Is it really cost effective to put up one of these relays where the population density is less than 50 per square mile? Of those, how many have the inclination to use such services?

    So, as far as my needs go, internet service isn't on the high priority list for improvement. I have to be happy with getting connect speeds of 49333 bps inbound with V.90 dialup equipment.

    If line-of-sight is necessary, it won't work for me. There are too many trees and this house is in a small valley. Trees even block small dish signals, and I like trees better than needing high speed internet access.

  • Try []

    It's an MMDS Internet Access service in the San Francisco Bay Area. Multiple ISP's are available. It's been operating for almost two years now. It's Ok if you can't get DSL but it's hardly the new age of Internet. Our servive at my previous company was actually a bit flakey. The "modem" kept freezing up and needed to be power cycled once or twice per day.

  • GPRS extends the existing GSM protocol to give circa 140kbps "always on" data links. This arrives next year in Europe (about 2033 in the US).

    UMTS will offer bucket loads of bandwidth - I forget how much..somewhere between 2MB and 9MB I think. This will take a bit longer to appear as it requires a completely new network infrastructure and set of frequencies.

    Unfortunately our friends in the US don't seem to like these technologies.... A strong attack of NIH syndrome I should say. ;)

    BTW, for Europe in the previous comment read Rest-of-the-World-except-USA.
  • MMDS (and LMDS) technology is far from new. There were many companies that tried to make 'consumer internet over wireless' work in the real world. All of them are not doing so well.

    List of companies include: (recovering from chapter 11 about a year ago) (almost went bankrupt, sold 90% of their spectrum allocation, restarting with a different technology)

    Winstar and ART Telecom are using MMDS as well, and doing well, but their business model is completely different. They aim at businesses, and
    they price it accordingly.

    MMDS and LMDS does not work well if you do not have line-of-sight, no matter what the vendors tell you. Not-LOS span is about 1 mile, not 30.

    LMDS and MMDS will work reasonably well in a rural or suburban areas, where LOS is not a major problem. But even there, the effective coverage ranger will be probably 2-3 miles per transmitter, not 30.

    You must also consider that LMDS and MMDS are affected by rain and sleet. Company that decides to provide service in an area must license the spectrum from FCC. There can only be 2 licensors per area, one of them having 10x more bandwidth than the other. Licenses for a metropolitan area were going for 50-100M$. So, as result of all that , do not expect your neighbourhood ISP to offer MMDS service anytime soon...
  • This technology uses the MMDS spectrum, which is licensed spectrum. In general, thelicense holder will have sole use of the spectrum in the license area. License areas are usually metropolitan areas. The only queer areas are where two or more licensed metro areas abut. There is currently work going on in the 802.16 Working Group on broadband wireless access [] to define sharing etiquette at these boundaries.
  • it's called ssh

    Yes, but that doesn't change the issue. Even ssh is far from all-pervasive. (It's also licensed, which restricts its availability further.)

Little known fact about Middle Earth: The Hobbits had a very sophisticated computer network! It was a Tolkien Ring...