Secondary Wireless Canopies

David Ahn, Director, Network Support & Service Delivery, Vyve Broadband

David Ahn, Director, Network Support & Service Delivery, Vyve Broadband

Particularly in rural communities, with a few caveats, a secondary wireless canopy can significantly add to a cable service provider’s portfolio, ranging from:

• Network infrastructure redundancy

• Advanced service deployment

Infrastructure Redundancy Considerations

There can be a false sense of security when a wireless backup “solution” turns out to be supported by the very network infrastructure it was intended to protect, and a well-placed fiber cut is able to take down both the primary network path as well as the secondary wireless solution that was intended to provide a high availability service option. This is less of a concern in fiber-rich areas where geo-diverse fiber lines are common, however, in more rural areas, underground conduits from multiple providers are at times built in close proximity to one another, and a single enthusiastic directional boring rig can take down primary, secondary, and even tertiary redundant paths. Similarly, a single set of poles can carry fiber paths for multiple service providers, especially when one service provider is leasing service for a specific span from another provider. Simply acquiring service from a different provider does not guarantee a geo-diverse fiber path, particularly across vulnerable segments that support high customer utilization.

Acquiring fiber topology maps from a potential service provider can sometimes prove to be a challenge as they tend to be proprietary, and customers must often settle for assurances that there is sufficient fiber geo-diversity in a particular locale. 

Wireless solutions tend to have a very high level of availability, thanks to service provider contracts that often carry strict fiscal penalties associated with them, so it is usually not difficult for a potential provider to point to an availability graph filled with 9’s. This still does not ensure that a solution that your company is paying for is actually going to provide the backup service that is expected, however.

Unfortunately, it may be helpful to request the inclusion of specific contractual terms that provide for diverse solutions to existing network infrastructure or for specific levels of availability in the event of service-impacting outages when primary services fail. While there are no guarantees, it is helpful to have a mutually clear understanding with a prospective service provider that the canopy has an intended function as a high availability service, so steps taken to ensure diversity from existing network paths will only help to safeguard this purpose.

Advanced Service Deployment

Another advantage that a secondary wireless canopy brings is the possibility of deploying customer services while fiber construction is still underway. This can help significantly accelerate inbound revenue while fiber permitting is in process, significantly extending the reach of the network core and empowering sales teams to continue moving forward. A phased approach can be leveraged where the initial wireless service can transition into a secondary high-availability redundancy service once land-based fiber construction completes. In areas where fiber buildouts are planned and construction delays are anticipated as a possible obstacle, a wireless canopy can assist in accelerating the deployment of services, particularly for commercial customers. Throughput considerations will be most significant for advanced deployment, ensuring that sufficient bandwidth is available to provide at a service provider level for wholesale offerings. Mobile offerings are scaling quickly with speed, however, so for the right investment in price, even Gigabit level services can become available as a viable offering. Let the ROI calculations begin.

A wireless canopy can serve as a significant source of network hardening by providing high availability redundancy while adding advanced deployment opportunities in greenfield markets. Particularly in rural areas, this can be at once a safety net and a network vanguard, an investment protecting not only market Head ends but also high MRC commercial customers.