Wireless Cable (Wireless Networks)

Wireless Cable
Wireless Cable is the common term assigned to a radio frequency-based alternative to the cable TV distribution system. An example of wireless cable technologies is multichannel multipoint distribution system (MMDS) or local multichannel distribution system (LMDS). By 1998, there were over 10 million wireless customers throughout the world and over 1.1 million in the United States.

Wireless cable system can simultaneously supply local television channels and high-speed data services. MMDS has a high-speed standardized air interface allowing mass deployment of cable television service by the new unregulated telephone companies. Cable television providers, who have access to most homes, can now provide telephone service.

In 1996, some analog MMDS systems began upgrading to digital service. Through the use of digital video compression, digital transmission allows 5 or 6 times the video channel capacity. In addition to video programming, wireless cable can provide telephone service and data services.

Figure 1 shows that the major component of a wireless cable system is the head-end equipment. The head-end equipment is equivalent to a telephone central office. The head-end building has a satellite connection for cable channels and video players for video on demand. The head-end is linked to base stations (BS) which transmit radio frequency signals for reception. An antenna and receiver in the home converts the microwave radio signals into the standard television channels for use in the home. Like traditional cable systems a set-top box decodes the signal for input to the television. Low frequency wireless cable systems can reach up to approximately 70 miles.

Figure 1: Wireless Cable System

Wireless cable is one of the most economical technologies available for the delivery of pay television service. Wireless cable systems do not require extensive networks of cables and amplifiers, bringing the offered price generally lower than a traditional cable service. To the customer, a wireless cable system operates in the same manner as a traditional cable system. Because wireless signals are transmitted over the air rather than through underground or above-ground cable networks, wireless systems may be less susceptible to outages, offer better signal quality and be less expensive to operate and maintain than traditional cable systems. In conventional coaxial cable distribution networks, the television signal quality declines in strength as it travels along the cables and must be boosted by amplifiers thus introducing distortion into the television signal.

To add security for wireless cable systems, so unauthorized users do not gain access to the system (stealing service), signals from video sources are scrambled with a code. The user must have the code to successfully view the video signals. Like traditional cable systems, wireless cable systems employ “addressable” subscriber authorization technology, which enables the system operator to control centrally the programming available to each individual subscriber, such as a pay-per-view selection

There are two primary methods of providing a communication path back from the end customer to the network operator: a telephone line and wireless. Wireless cable systems have typically only provided wireless downlink service (radio transmission from the system to the customer). Some of the new wireless cable systems now dedicate some of their radio channel capacity to uplink channels (from the customer to the system). Uplink channels allow the customer to select programming sources (such as pay per view) or may allow two-way Internet access.

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