What is line of sight broadband?

If cabled internet access in your area is providing slow speeds, or there’s no cabled access at all, you may have heard the term line of sight broadband. Many business owners could get greater broadband speeds for their money with LoS, but so many people don’t know it exists or know what it means.

What is line of sight broadband? Line of sight broadband is a completely wireless type of high-speed internet access. Connections are established using radio signals rather than cables.

Line of sight broadband, also known as fixed wireless broadband, really is revolutionary. This type of broadband could help businesses far and wide that are suffering because they’re paying too much for too little with a cabled connection. In this blog, I’ll explain all you need to know about this technology and tell you some of the key benefits.

Line of sight broadband: How does it work?

So, we’ve established that line of sight broadband uses radio signals rather than cables. However, how does it all work?

This illustration shows and explains how line of sight broadband (AKA fixed wireless broadband) works.

Putting it simply line of sight broadband utilises transmission masts. These transmission poles house radios that send radio signals to receivers attached to a customer’s premises. This use of point-to-point wireless technology allows for customers without a physical connection to still enjoy incredible speeds.

Once the connection between the receiver on your building and the cell tower is established, your provider gives you access to the internet via a cable carrying the signal from the receiver into your router.

If you live in a rural area without the infrastructure needed for a cabled connection installed, fixed wireless broadband saves you the massive expense of having cabling installed. You’ll also have access to brilliant speeds, as line of sight broadband can provide you with speeds of up to 2Gbps (faster than ADSL, FTTC, FTTP, and a host of other cable broadband options).

Is line of sight broadband reliable?

When comparing a completely wireless service with a cabled one, it’s natural to assume a cabled service would be more reliable. In fact, some people presume that they cannot rely upon line of sight broadband since it’s not a physical connection.

Is line of sight broadband reliable? Yes, line of sight broadband is reliable. Line of sight, or fixed wireless, might actually be more reliable than physical services, which can be impacted by construction work and so on.

Due to technology advancements over the last few years, the equipment used to establish a line of sight connection is better than ever. For example, some radios are equipped with dual-link capabilities. Radios equipped with dual-link capabilities can transmit data on two different channels. This is so advantageous for numerous reasons, but primarily the redundancy of the second link will allow you to still use your broadband even if one channel is impacted by some kind of interference.

Line Of Sight Is Needed For A Reliable Connection

When I say line of sight broadband is reliable, that’s assuming there is line of sight between the transmitter and the receiver installed on your building. To work correctly and provide good speeds, the transmitter and receiver must have line of sight.

If anything interrupts the line of sight, such as a building or trees, the transmitter and receiver won’t be able to talk to each other. If the transmitter and receiver can’t talk, you don’t have broadband. That’s why line of sight is absolutely essential. The reliability of this type of internet depends on uninterrupted line of sight.

Weather Can Impact Speeds And Stability

There is another known issue with LoS broadband: weather can have a negative impact on the stability and strength of your connection.

Rain, fog and wind are just some of the weather conditions that can impact the stability of a wireless connection. It’s worth noting that these weather conditions would usually need to be extreme to impact the quality of your connection; in other words, your connection won’t be impacted by a little bit of wind or a shower.

So, how can severe weather conditions actually impact your connection? It really depends on how severe the weather is, as well as where you’re based and your distance from the transmitter. You could notice the internet connection dropping and coming back online, or you could notice speeds aren’t as good as usual.

How fast is line of sight broadband?

You may presume that LoS internet is slower than a physical connection, since data is sent through the air rather than down a wire or cable.

Line of sight broadband can be much faster than other connections available in rural areas, such as DSL. In fact, fixed wireless broadband can offer speeds similar to those available with fibre. A fixed wireless internet connection can achieve speeds anywhere between 10 and 1,000Mbps.

If you’re based in an area where there’s no other superfast service currently available, fixed wireless can be transformative for your business. You can enjoy superfast speeds that can boost your business in numerous ways. For example, you could move your essential processes into the cloud, or move over to a VoIP telephone system; things you wouldn’t be able to do using a slow broadband connection.

LoS broadband usually isn’t a shared service, which means you’ll get your expected speeds virtually all of the time. What does this mean? Most physical connections are shared between numerous businesses and buildings. One connection into the local distribution point could be shared between as many as 50 users. Your line of sight broadband connection isn’t contended; you don’t share it with any other businesses. This is one of the reasons that if you’re meant to get 50Mbps, you should get 50Mbps 99% of the time.

How much does line of sight broadband cost?

The price of LoS will differ greatly depending on several factors, such as your data usage and your location. It will also depend on the cost of installation, as installation cost might be bundled in with your monthly cost on longer contracts to give the illusion of installation being free.

Line of sight broadband can cost anywhere between £40 – £150 per month for businesses. For households, it may be cheaper. This is because business broadband will usually come with a service level agreement and better speeds, resulting in a higher cost.

What you’ll pay for fixed wireless is difficult to say without a proper survey and discussion about your particular requirements. If your business has a high data consumption and requires certain guarantees about quality of service, you’ll pay more than a business needing a basic connection with no concern for guarantees.

Line of sight broadband does tend to cost more than some of the physical connections available. Again, there are several reasons for this. For example, a fixed wireless connection isn’t shared, so you won’t experience all the problems associated with sharing a connection with other businesses. Furthermore, you get greater speeds in a rural area where there’s no other suitable alternative if you want good speeds.

Jack Mitchell

Jack Mitchell has been the Operations manager at telecoms and MSP Optionbox for more than 4 years. He has played a crucial role in the company, from marketing to helpdesk, and ensures that the IT requirements of over 300 clients are continuously met. With his innate passion for technology and troubleshooting and a particular interest in Apple products, Jack now delivers the most comprehensive tech guides to make your life easier. You can connect with Jack on LinkedIn.

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