Existing technologies

A number of "current" technologies are being developed to provide broadband communications. These are varied in their performance and availability, and include:
  • Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) and its variants - here, ancient telephone wires are used at the very upper limit of their capacity, and availability is limited by the customer's distance to a suitably equipped exchange.

  • Fibre Optic Cable - offers high data rates but is not installed ubiquitously, and is uneconomic for installation to less densely populated areas.

  • Broadband Fixed Wireless Access (BFWA) - offers high data rates at higher mm-wave frequencies, over short distances, but requires a proliferation of base stations to obtain sufficient coverage. Availability is limited by requirement for line-of-sight.

  • Mobile telephony, including 2nd Generation (2G) - now ubiquitous in developed countries and offering limited data rates (by no means "broadband") - and 3rd Generation (3G) UMTS - which has been slow to market, promises moderate data rates, and again requires proliferation of base station infrastructure.

  • Wireless LAN (WLAN) based on the IEEE 802.11 variants can offer typically 11 and up to 54Mbit/s burst rates over short ranges. Higher rates are foreseen but it will still be limited to hot-spot coverage.

  • Satellite - offers moderate capacity at higher expense, mostly aimed at corporate users, but can give universal geographic coverage. Next generation services at millimetre wave (Ka band and above) have been slow to progress towards market. Low earth orbit systems have been hampered by excessive cost and complexity.
Technology being developed by the CAPANINA project will lead to a real cost effective alternative..