Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use a variety of network technologies to deliver broadband internet services to customers. Those internet service providers that utilize fixed wireless and hybrid fiber and wireless networks and connections to provide internet services to customers (usually in remote or unserved/underserved locations to help bridge the digital divide) are referred to as Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs). Fixed-wireless networks refer to the use of “fixed” locations for senders and receivers of wireless data. The term “hybrid” refers to the fact that many fixed-wireless-centric ISPs may also have network elements composed of fiber-optic cables.
For instance, fiber often serves as the “trunk” or “backhaul” that delivers data from network access points to a provider’s point to multi-point equipment placed on a tower or other vertical structure. The data is then transmitted over the air to the customer premises. Where it makes economic sense, “last-mile” fiber is also being used to distribute high-bandwidth service directly to certain residential and non-residential customers. This hybrid fiber-wireless model and trend are making “future-proof” networks a reality in low-density markets.
Wireless ISP Association, WISPA estimates that WISPs currently serve more than nine million Americans – a number that continues to grow as demand increases and technology evolves to meet that demand – utilizing a range of technologies, such as fixed wireless (including 5G standards) and fiber.
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