Six Ways to Deploy Broadband Services: Part 1

Who remembers dial-up? Did you know that DSL is still around? In fact, there are several other ways subscribers are connecting to the Internet. Some might not be household names, but they all get the job done one way or the other. In part one of this blog series, James Donovan provides a summary of three technologies operators are using to deploy broadband.


I’m proud to work for CommScope, a company that helps operators deploy broadband services around the globe. These broadband services help consumers connect, which is important for many things like commerce, communication and education.

There are many ways subscribers can connect to the outside world. In a series of blogs, I will explore six basic technology choices for deploying broadband services to the end customer. This first blog will cover three: DSL, satellite and wireless.

Subscriber Line – How Much Longer?

Digital subscriber line (DSL) is the most mature of these technologies in terms of its early acceptance, standardization and use. This technology provides Internet access by transmitting digital data over a local telephone network. Basic DSL requires fiber build-out to a node, or terminal, which is close to the customer. From the node, a twisted-pair copper connection is made to the existing copper within the customer premises.


  • Cost per subscriber is typically low compared to most competing technologies as it leverages copper in existing homes.
  • Approximately 80 percent of brownfield builds in the world have twisted-pair copper.


  • To provide greater bandwidth, nodes must be moved further into the field and even closer to the customer.
  • Electronic equipment in the outside plant makes the network potentially vulnerable to natural disasters.

Ultimately, DSL will reach the point where it can no longer provide enough bandwidth to customers – thus, a major technology upgrade will be required.

Satellite – No Infrastructure Necessary

Although not always grouped among popular telecom technologies, satellite does provide a medium for video and data transmission as a direct competitor to cable television operators.


  • It covers wide areas without the need for major infrastructure.
  • It provides services to remote areas under-served or not served at all by other media.


  • Upstream and downstream transmissions are not equal – downloads are typically faster than uploads.
  • Transmissions are vulnerable to weather conditions and other failures that can cause service outages for long periods of time.

Wireless – Still Needs Fiber

Wireless technologies provide extensive coverage to many people and devices. Any wireless network is supported by a fiber (wired) backhaul network. One major difference between a wireless and a fiber-to-the-home/node network is that there is never a one-to-one ratio of user to provider. To alleviate congestion, wireless providers deploy more antennas requiring power and fiber connectivity.


  • Instead of having a dedicated line between the customer and the node, multiple wireless users simply tap into the wireless network and extract bandwidth.


  • Too many users can cause service availability and quality issues.
  • Providing higher bandwidth necessitates either more antennas or a reduction in the coverage areas.

In my next blog, I will provide you with the final three technologies operators are using to deploy broadband to their subscribers.

SEE MORE: There’s No Limit to What Fiber Can Do