Have you heard of this new technology being developed by AT&T called "AirGig"? I've been hearing and reading about it for the past few months but still haven't gotten my head around whether it's a potential game changer for delivering high-capacity broadband to rural areas or just another idea that sounds great but fails to execute.
On its surface, AirGig is a new version of Broadband Over Power Line (BPL) that has tried (and mostly failed) to be a reliable broadband medium. AT&T says they have solved BPL's limitations by creating a millimeter wave wireless signal that rides along or near the actual conductor rather than a signal that is carried by the conductor.
“We think Project AirGig is unlike anything that’s out there. We’re experimenting with multiple ways to send a modulated radio signal around or near medium-voltage power lines,” the company said.--from article in Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal, October 2016
The graphic at the right illustrates how AirGig would work. AT&T has several patents on the technology and and is implementing field trials, with a goal for having it available for deployment in 2019 or 2020.
In addition to use as a way to provide broadband to end users, the technology is also being touted as an affordable and easily scaleable solution for Smart Grid.
If it works, AirGig could be at least a partial solution to providing better broadband in wireless areas. There's one glaring problem, though...it only works with overhead electric plants. So providers with buried electric facilities would still need a different solution to reach end users. Also, there's no word on how much the new technology will cost versus the "gold standard" for broadband, fiber optics.
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Presented by the Community Broadband Action Network and curated by Curtis Dean.