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Internet Access Technologies

Using the Phone Twisted Pair:

Legacy DSL
: uses the twisted pair that used to carry analog phone service into your home. The actual cable entering your home has 2 pairs (4 wires) inside it intended to allow 2 separate analog phone services if you wish. Now those 2 pairs can be used to deliver 2 DSL services if you wish.

Legacy DSL Can reach up to 5 km from the the Bell Service point.  However as the distance increases, the maximum datarate drops.  For residences that are close to the serving point, speeds up to 7 Mbps are reached.   At 5 km, the best speed is usually about 2 Mbps.   If the quality of the twisted pair is poor (due to poor maintenance by Bell or damage from backhoes, or your neighbours shovel) DSL speed in a residence might be reduced even if that residence is relatively close to the Bell Service Point. 

Note DSL carries the digital internet data at higher frequencies than the analog voice used for old style analog phones.  They do not interfere as long as they are kept separate.  Keeping them separate requires low-pass filters to be installed for any analog phones in the home, to keep the higher frequencies used for the digital data out of the phones.   In some homes, the DSL modem is connected directly to the raw wire coming from the wall, meanwhile that wire is passed through a single low-pass filter before reaching ALL the other phones in the home.   In other homes, every analog phone is provided with its own low pass filter.

If the low pass filters are not installed correctly, even missing a single phone in the home, then analog telephone calls will have a hissing sound in the background, and the DSL modem will have low performance with poor speeds, and it will often be unable to maintain a digital connection and it will disconnect and then try to reconnect, interrupting any internet activity underway.

FTTN DSL: uses Fiber Optic cable to get the internet to your neighbourood, then uses the twisted pair that used to carry phone service into your home for the last few hundred meters. The actual cable coming from the green or brown Bell box down the street has 2 pairs (4 wires) inside it. This technology can deliver more than 100 Mbps into most homes because the length of the twisted pair cable is relatively short.  This service is available in urban and suburban neighbourhoods where fiber has been run to the neighbouhood Bell Access Point (the large Brown or Green box down the street).

It is notable that FTTN stands for Fiber-to-the-Node or Fiber-to-the-Neighbourhood.  Bell Canada calls this service Bell-FIBE, presumably to confuse people and make them think it uses fiber optic cable into their home.  It doesn't.  Yet another Fib (e) from Big Blue!


Using Radio Frequency Spectrum in the Open Air:

RF2.4GHZ
: Part of the radio spectrum, it was the first to be used for WiFi. 

It was available for unlicensed WiFi use because nobody else wanted it.   This frequency happens to be the primary resonant frequency of the water molecule, H2O.  In fact, this is the frequency used by microwave ovens to heat things up, since the RF waves emitted in the microwave oven are absorbed by the water molecules in the slurry in your day old coffee mug, so it makes them vibrate, causing heat, making your coffee hot  (but still a day old!)

Nobody else wanted this frequency spectrum because radio waves at that frequency don't travel very far, instead they get absorbed by water molecules in the air.  At this high frequency they also don't like to bend around obstacles, so they pretty much go in a straight line right into the nearest wall where they tend to get absorbed, and there they stop.

But this is actually a good thing for small WiFi access points in your home, since it means your access point doesn't interfere with your neighbours 2 doors down.  (You might see your immediate neighbour's access point, but not much from farther away).  This allows spatial reuse of the radio frequency spectrum. 

But using 2.4 GHz to provide Internet Access to a home is tricky, and requires special attention and engineering.  

The first problem is it can be interfered with at any time if someone erects a WiFi access point or transmitter nearby to your receiver.

The 2nd problem is the applicable rules and regulations limit the power delivered to a WiFi antenna to just 2 watts, maximum.   This is to ensure you don't bug the neighbours, but it also means you cannot easily send the signal over long distances.

We can still use it in rural areas for distances up to 2 km, by using a 2 watt amplifier and a very focused point-to-point antenna system at both ends of a radio link, and ensuring both ends have a clear line of sight view of the other end. In somecases we even put a WiFi repeater at the half way point to collect the signal, and rebroadcast it on its next hop.  The repeater does this for information going in both directions.

RF5GHZ: Part of the radio spectrum allocated for WiFi, used by some modern WiFi equipment.

This frequency travels farther because it is less prone to be absorbed by water molecules in the air. 

However because it is even higher frequency, it is even less willing to bend around obstacles.

When we use this for delivering Internet to your home, we beam it from towers to an antenna on your roof. Clear point-to-point visibility is needed but distances of 20 Km can be covered. It is good in rural areas.

RF200MHZ: Part of the radio spectrum, originally used for Broadcast TV (for channels 13 to 69) . We can now use this to deliver internet signals to your home, on any channel not used for a local TV station (called Whitespace).  These are great frequencies because they penetrate buildings and carry long distances without being absorbed. Because the frequencies are relatively low, the radio waves also bend around obstacles, ride over and around hills and so on.   

We can beam the signal through trees, through steel and cement walls, even over hills and around buildings.  It works great.

This technology is a  nightmare for Bell and Rogers since it means new market entrants, like us, can finally  reach households with internet service and bypass them entirely. 

This Whitespace Technology was licensed for Internet use in Canada in January 2015, about a year behind many other countries.  
This is the latest technology and it is a game changer!

Bye Bye Bell!   Roger that!, over and OUT.    HA HA HA HA! (insert megalomaniacal laughter here...) 
Using the Cable-TV Coax Cable:

CABLE
: uses the coaxial cable (the round cable) that used to carry TV service into your home.

Coax Cable is like the Autobahn compared to the twisted pair from Bell which is more like a bumpy gravel road. 

This is because that coax cable was originally installed to deliver many simultaneous TV channels to your home.  Each channel was carried on 6 MHz of spectrum (which made sense when transporting TV channels which were encoded using the old NTSC TV broadcast standard.) 

The total spectrum available on most Cable TV systems starts around 50 MHz and runs up to 800 MHz, a literally HUGE chunk of spectrum that can carry thousands of megabits per second if it was used for pure data.    In modern cable systems, some of the 6 MHz spectrum chunks are still used to carry NTSC analog TV down to clients.  Some other 6 MHz spectrum chunks are used to carry multiple digital channels in the same bandwidth.   And other 6 MHz spectrum chunks are allocated to carry data down to customers from the internet, or up from customers to the internet.

Because there are so many 6 MHz spectrum chunks available, a subscriber can attach multiple separate Cable Modems on a single Coax cable.  After configuration, each Cable Modem uses only a single 6 MHz spectrum chunk, and can deliver up to 60 Mbps per modem. 

Of course, there is a fee for each distinct internet access service even though they share a common coax cable.  Also as the speed of service goes up, the price usually goes up.
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