Wireless is Always Connected

Service providers have long understood the need to reduce subscriber churn, or to induce high subscriber loyalty to maintain revenue growth. Network quality is still considered the number one factor in keeping wireless customers connected and satisfied. Keeping customers connected now means extending wireless architecture including public Wi-Fi hotspots, microcells, and distributed antenna system (DAS) networks in public venues and enterprise locations for both residential and business customers.
These developments are true for both advanced and developing telecom markets with the pace of deployment only limited by the available capital investment and trained workforce to build those networks. Furthermore, wireless networks must be reliable and robust with sufficient headroom and redundancy to ensure peak operation. This article will cover developments in the wireless space as well as emerging trends in cable usage and technology considerations.


Wireless communication began as an analogue-based service using waveforms to transmit symbols. The various technology advancements that have been used to define wireless capability as 1G, 2G, 3G and 4G are defined by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

The first commercial 1G cellular network began in Saudi Arabia in 1981 and was limited to voice communications only. Second generation digital cellular service using GSM technology over circuit-based switches was first implemented in Finland in 1991. An important intermediate advance called General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) was introduced a few years later. GPRS, commonly referred to as 2.5G, was a packet-data technology that allowed service providers to offer wireless data service and increased voice communication throughput without having to acquire new spectrum.

Full-fledged 3G service using Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE) technology was first commercialized in 2003. This development allowed wireless operators to offer high-speed packet-data services such as Internet access, streaming multimedia, and large data file transfers. EDGE supports peak theoretical network data rates of 3.1 Mbps, with average throughput of 500 to 700 kbps on both the downlink and the uplink. Another advance called high-speed packet access (HSPA), often referred to as 3.5G was an enhancement to EDGE that had a theoretical peak of 14.4-Mbps and generally permitted data transfers of 1-3 Mbps

4 G/LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology offers up to 100-Mbps service and was first trialled in 2010. LTE began being commercialized in greater numbers in 2011 and has seen widespread deployments in both advanced and developing economies. Many operators in developing markets, however, are still transitioning from offering 2G services to investing in large-scale 3G deployments, so the number of 2G devices being used is still substantial.

According to Cisco’s 2014 Visual Networking Index, the number of 3G devices won’t surpass 2G usage until 2016. In 2013, Cisco says 2G devices accounted for 68 percent of the devices or connections by technology type. 3G devices had a 29 percent share and 4G devices trailed with a 3 percent share.

Improved modulation schemes such as orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) used in the downlink has helped improve throughput since OFDM transmits symbols in parallel for longer time sequences. Parallel data transfer is akin to multi-lane highways whereas serial transmission is limited to one lane. The use of sophisticated algorithms enables even degraded signals to be captured and understood. The use of multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) transmit and receive antennas engineered into the smart device is the other significant development in increasing 4G performance. The increased number of these antennas increases a device’s throughput. MIMO technology also is effective in urban conglomerations as it does not rely on line-of-sight transmission.