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..