Mobile Broadband: Substituting for Fixed Broadband or Providing Value-Added

Mobile Broadband: Substituting for Fixed Broadband or Providing Value-Added

Carol McDonough (University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1981-4.ch005
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This chapter discusses the relationship between fixed-wire and mobile broadband. In the first section, background on the types of broadband connections is provided, and the nature of substitutes and complements is described. For purposes of comparison, findings on the relationship between fixed and mobile telephony are presented. There follows a detailed analysis of fixed and mobile broadband as substitutes and complements. Since fixed-wire broadband is available predominantly in developed countries, the discussion of complementarity between fixed and mobile broadband focuses on developed countries. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the relationship between fixed and mobile broadband in the future and with concluding remarks.
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Background: Definition Of Broadband And Types Of Broadband Connectivities

The term “broadband” refers to high-speed internet. Internet speed is measured both by upload and download speeds. Upload speed refers to the speed at which a user can send data to the internet. Download speed refers to the speed at which a user can obtain data from the internet. For many users, uploading files is quite a bit slower than downloading files. Most high-speed internet connections are asymmetric. They are designed to provide much better speed for downloading than uploading, because most users spend much more time downloading (which includes viewing web pages or multimedia files) than they do uploading. The actual speeds that consumers experience are often below advertised speeds, because of usage demands on the broadband network.

In the United States, the minimum speed threshold for broadband was set at speeds in excess of 200 kbps in both directions in 1999, and increased in 2010 to download speeds of at least 4Mbps and upload speeds of at least 1 Mbps (Federal Communications Commission, 2010). While other nations define broadband somewhat differently, as of January 2009, the minimum speed for broadband was usually either 128 kbps or 256 Kbps (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, 2008). However, ARCEP, the telecom regulator in France, set a minimum speed of 512 Kbps, and in Korea and Japan, broadband plans during this same time frame started from a minimum of 2 Mbps. IDA (Infocomm Development Authority) of Singapore defines broadband as an internet connection speed greater than or equal to 256 Kbps, as of 2011. Moreover, there has been a tendency to increase the minimum speed threshold because of network evolution and usage demands.

The broadband industry has developed various types of wireline and wireless broadband connectivities, although an individual consumer may have access to only some of these connectivities. There are four types of fixed-line broadband service: ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line), FTTN (fiber to the node), FTTH (fiber to the home), and Cable/HFC (hybrid fiber coax) (Atkinson, (2011).

FTTH connectivity is the mode often used by legacy telephone companies in order to provide consumers with triple-play service (phone, internet, and television). In the United States, Verizon’s FIOS service is an example of FTTH connectivity. As of March 2011, FTTH connectivities in the United States had advertised downstream speed of 50 Mbps and upstream speed of 20 Mbps.

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