Many believe that fibre optic broadband is the best of broadband technologies. This might not be the case, however, as fixed wireless technologies continue to improve.
Is fixed wireless better than FTTP? To answer this question properly, I’ve written an in-depth comparison of the two. Keep reading to see how fixed wireless and fibre broadband compare on several important factors.
Fixed Wireless & FTTP: A Comparison
To decide whether fixed wireless or fibre is the best broadband solution for your business, we need to compare the two on several points. We must compare them on:
- Speeds available
- Upfront cost
- Installation time
Speed is an important factor when it comes to broadband options. After all, a slow internet connection can have a severe impact on the productivity of your employees. We’ve all experienced slow internet so we all know how annoying it can be and how much of an impact it can have on the tasks you’re trying to do.
So, how do the speeds available with fibre connections compare with those available on a fixed wireless connection?
FTTP, one of the fastest fibre broadband options in the UK, is gigabit-capable. This means the fibre optic connection can support speeds of up to 1Gbps. The speeds actually available to FTTP users will differ based on numerous factors, such as the number of surrounding businesses also using FTTP. However, FTTP is a capable internet circuit offering speeds suitable for the vast majority of businesses.
A fixed wireless connection can be much faster than FTTP. The speeds available on a fixed wireless connection range anywhere from 10Mbps to 2Gbps. As with any type of broadband, the speeds actually available to your business will differ based on numerous factors. Not all fixed wireless providers are made equal, so some will offer slower speeds than others. However, providers aiming solutions at businesses will usually offer speeds up to 2Gbps.
Without considering factors such as contention and the provider you choose, I can say conclusively that a fixed wireless connection is faster than most fibre products. Keep in mind that we haven’t considered fibre leased line in this comparison, which can offer businesses speeds of up to 10Gbps. However, ISPs normally provide leased lines with speeds of 20Mbps to 100Mbps. A dedicated leased line is a good option, but few businesses need 10Gbps.
The cost of setting up an internet connection is another crucial consideration when deciding what’s best for your business. The upfront costs with fibre connections and fixed wireless are significantly different and might be a big factor in deciding which option is best for you.
So which type of connection has the largest upfront cost, fibre or fixed wireless? In this section, I’m going to assume that you live in an area that isn’t already serviced by superfast fibre broadband. If your area already has the fibre infrastructure in place, the upfront costs can be very different as I’ll explain.
Fibre deployment is very expensive. To establish a fibre connection, the fibre infrastructure needs to be installed. Laying fibre for long stretches is extremely expensive. Approvals for any kind of work such as installing fibre cabling is also needed. If fibre broadband isn’t available in your area, this means significant upfront costs if you want a fibre connection.
The initial cost of setting up a fixed wireless connection is much cheaper. Setting up a fixed wireless connection doesn’t require the laying of any cabling. This alone means costs are substantially lower. Installation costs are so much cheaper because you only need to pay for the technology required to receive the connection at your property. On top of that, you’ll need an engineer to set everything up for you. But the costs are still so much cheaper than having a fibre connection installed.
No matter how much your connection costs, you need broadband that your business can rely on. Most people already have a good idea of how reliable fibre is, but do people know whether fixed wireless is reliable? I can’t count the number of times that people have assumed fixed wireless isn’t reliable, simply because it’s wireless!
As you may already know, fibre connections are very reliable. Fibre cabling is much more robust than copper wires. Additionally, fibre is resistant to electromagnetic interference and radio frequency interference. Fibre connections are about as reliable as connections get. In fact, many ISPs offer a service level agreement with their business-grade fibre packages that assure 99.9% uptime as well as fix times of a few hours should anything go wrong. No broadband service is infallible, however. All it takes is a stray pneumatic drill to cut through a fibre cable to take your service down.
In general, fixed wireless connections are just as reliable as fibre connections with 99.9% uptime advertised by providers. As line of sight broadband is entirely wireless, you’re never going to have a situation where a break in the fibre or copper networks takes your connection down. A completely wireless connection can be impacted by severe weather, as you may expect. Normal everyday weather won’t have an impact, but a severe storm could cause your connection to drop.
As I said previously, no broadband service is completely infallible. Construction works can impact physical connections such as fibre, whereas a severe storm can impact a fixed wireless connection. For the most part, however, both of these connections are extremely reliable. This is demonstrated by providers advertising a 99.9% uptime on both broadband types. Some businesses have the best of both worlds by having a fixed wireless connection with a physical connection as backup, or vice versa. Of course, that’s possibly not an option for businesses in rural areas.
If you’re looking into a broadband solution now, you probably don’t want to be waiting months for it to be set up. So how long does it take to install fibre broadband when compared with a fixed wireless connection?
Presuming your building is in an area that doesn’t already have the fibre infrastructure in place, setting up a fibre connection can take anything from 6 weeks to 6 months. If you need broadband setting up quickly or you are struggling to rely on your current connection, the wait time for fibre is undoubtedly a big problem. Of course, the wait could be even longer than 6 months when you consider the planning needed and the requirement to get permission for all work due to be undertaken.
On the other hand, a fixed wireless connection can be set up within a matter of days. At most, setting up a fixed wireless connection will take a week. If the technology is already set up and the receiver is in place, the configuration and set up can be completed very quickly. Since there is no digging required, the installation is quicker and cheaper.
Fixed wireless is undoubtedly the winner here when you consider how long it takes to gain planning permission to install fibre and then complete the installation. If you have the technology ready to go, a fixed wireless connection can be live within a few days.
FTTP & Fixed Wireless: Which Is Best?
Now we’ve compared fibre and fixed wireless in some detail, which of the two is the best? Well, you might not even have a choice. If your business is based in a remote location without the fibre infrastructure already installed, there really isn’t a choice. Unless you want to spend a fortune getting the fibre cabling installed, that is.
If you do have a choice between the two, it’s hard to say which is the best. In an ideal world, you’d have one as your main connection and the other as a backup to ensure you always have a robust connection. When it comes to choosing one or the other, it’s really down to you to choose. If you can’t, feel free to contact me and we’ll discuss your business in more detail. If we can have a chat about your business, I’ll happily advise you on which solution is best for you.