An investigation of wireless solutions for the "Last Mile"
Varelas, Antonios K.
Lundy, Gilbert M.
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The need for broadband network access is experiencing rapid growth, but what is currently available is not sufficient. Copper-based technologies cannot address the requirements of today's bandwidth-intensive Internet applications. End-users in the "last mile" demand access speeds equivalent to those supported by fiber optics backbone networks, although, the cost and time associated with its installation are prohibitive factors for bringing fiber to every home and business. This results in the well-known "last mile access problem," which prevents the Internet from reaching its full potential, and has paved the way for the development of many innovative technologies. Driven by demands for more bandwidth, wireless broadband technologies have been proposed. This thesis provides an investigation of two candidates to address the lack of adequate bandwidth in the "last mile," Free Space Optics (FSO), and the IEEE 802.11 Wireless Local Area Networking (WLAN) standard. FSO uses optical signals to deliver information at extremely high data rates, more quickly and cost-effectively than fiber systems. The IEEE 802.11 standard uses radio technology to transfer data. They both use license-free frequency bands for transmission through the atmosphere. They both are quickly deployable, easily scalable, and cheaper than wired solutions, characteristics able to support applications requiring high bandwidth and a high degree of mobility.
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