Monday, August 01, 2011

DIDO - MIMO on steroids?

The ongoing discussion about the benefit or otherwise of the NBN continues to fascinate me.

There are essentially two schools.

The first is that we really don't need high speed networks anyway and that as a consequence we should accept FTTN. This is the group that typically says the NBN provides capacity beyond consumers willingness to pay. Some of this I'd agree with if I thought demand wasn't going to change. but it has in the past and will again in the future.

The second is that we don't need fibre because "other technologies" will get us to the faster speeds. These are either tagged as advances on DSL type technologies or new wireless ones. I generally dismiss the copper ones because the asset in the ground continues to age and while you might get more out of it for a while, you certainly wouldn't replace old copper with new.

The wireless ones become more problematic especially since some theoreticians invoke the Shannon limit as the ultimate determining factor, while proponents cite the ongoing evolution of wireless standards.

And so we come to a column in Comms Day today by Graeme Lynch telling us that DIDO - distributed input distributed output - is now just such a game changer.

My difficulty is that it really doesn't matter how fast the wireless bit can be in the great complement/substitute debate. Firstly, the faster the wireless the greater its backhaul requirement. We at the very least need a fibre to the base station model we don't currently have. Secondly, as I've written elsewhere there are other features of increasing use of wireless that go to environmental concerns that suggest it isn't a winning strategy as a substitute, even as a Fibre to the base station wireless to the house model.

Even more critically, as the author notes the cycle from technical development to commercial deployment is long. It may be shorter than the CDMA cycle he quotes, but the reality is that OFDM has taken a good decade or more from first use to beginning commercial deployment as LTE.

I'm prepared to place a bet that Australia's NBN on its existing timetable will be completed before the first DIDO service sees the light of day. At which point our very insatiable desire for bandwidth wherever we are will see the ability to use wireless on the go as a great complement to fixed, as it still is today for the vast bulk of customers.

Just think of the grand Optus femtocell announcement last week - reported by some as the end of the "landline". Sorry. You need an internet connection first.

(I should separately give credit to great analysis by Stuart Corner that I only read after writing the blog post.

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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