Better deal than Verizon 10 gigabytes or Deutsche Telekom 90 euro. Low capacity is the Achilles heel of wireless networks. 5-12 megabit speed is reasonable but caps of 5 and 10 gigabytes mean you can use that speed far less than an hour/day. Watching video is seriously limited. 2 gig and 5 gig caps are typically abused market power. But somewhere around 15 gigabytes/month per customer you need to deal with true practical limits of spectrum, cost of cell sites and technology.
Bend Broadband is a locally owned cable company in central Oregon covering most of their territory with wireless as well. For those who can’t get cable modems, Bend offers 25 gigabytes at $45 and 50 gigabytes at $55. These are among the most competitive rates in the world for LTE fixed wireless. Deutsche Telecom charges $117 for 50 gig; Verizon charges $120 for 30 GB and $60 for 10 GB.
Wireless networks are shared, with the costs determined by what’s required at peak times. There’s essentially no cost for network demand off peak, which is well over 90% at most networks. Caps are a very blunt tool to limit capacity, and time of day pricing only a modest improvement. Bend uses Sandvine gear to control traffic. Sandvine is generally hated because some Sandvine customers use it heavily and abusively. Used sensibly, to modestly reduce speeds only in actual peaks, traffic shaping is an effective way to offer customers more with generally unobtrusive, limited slowdowns at the (relatively few) peaks.
Until we have multiple heavily loaded LTE networks, no one is sure what the traffic patterns will be and what each individual user will be able to draw.
Here’s my story on the German prices, last year the world leader, as well as Bend’s press release. Pricing is from the Bend website and DSL Reports. http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Bend-Broadband-Offers-Fixed-LTE-in-Oregon-119703
Germany: 50 Gigabytes of LTE 89.95 euro
DT is selling "up to 40 megabit" LTE, 50 gigabyte cap, beginning in Cologne and soon in 100 other cities. Verizon has essentially the same network - 20 MHz LTE - but is conservatively setting speeds of 5-12 megabits. With decent latency and likely good reliability, DT's offering is clearly a decent substitute for many with DSL. 80+% of DSL users draw less than 50 gigabytes each month. The average user in the U.S. draws about 20 gigabytes, but that's a mean and the median is lower.
89.95 euro (~$125) is a very steep price, three times as much as similar DSL and perhaps four times as much as German cable. Vodafone's LTE service starts at €39.99 ($51.) "Up to" 50 meg down with a 30 gig cap costs €69.99. 30 gig is less than 90 minutes a day. LTE is great fast wireless, but the early German offerings are very expensive as an alternative to landlines. Some people who buy LTE because they need mobility will find they no longer need a landline, but at these prices Im guessing we'll only see a modest amount of substitution.
LTE Advanced, coming soon, offers easily triple the capacity at about the same cost. LTE tops out at 20 MHz; LTE Advanced can use 100. Deutsche Telekom recently added 95 MHz from the German auctions, currently unused. As they move to LTE Advanced (2013-2015) they will be able to offer deals that match what most people are getting from DSL.
Germany is rapidly approaching 100% LTE coverage. The buyers in the last auction, including DT and Vodafone, were required first to offer service in the "white spaces," the "unserved" areas. Vodafone in a few months connected 1,000 small towns. The net cost, including the slightly reduced auction bids, was remarkably little and far less than the estimates in other countries for near 100% coverage. Radios, microwave backhaul, and everything else required is much cheaper than the subsidies the lobbies claim. Every regulator who cares about broadband is closely watching the German auction rules, including the most recent chief of the FCC wireless bureau.
Remarkable things are practical If a regulator is smart and tough.
BendBroadband 4G LTE Wireless Network Upgrade Complete
Current Customers Must Upgrade to 4G LTE Router to Avoid Service Interruptions
May 17, 2012
Bend, Oregon – May 17, 2012 – BendBroadband has completed upgrades to its wireless high-speed Internet and home telephone network, making it the first service provider in Central Oregon to offer customers the high speeds and reliability of a 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) wireless network.
With wireless internet speeds of up to 12 Mbps, this enhanced network is especially good news for Internet users served by wired connections that are not capable of delivering true broadband speeds. It also helps ‘connect’ people residing in areas of Central Oregon that are not served by wired broadband connections.
Using robust FCC-licensed wireless spectrum, the new 4G LTE network provides excellent wireless signal strength throughout the entire region. “The performance of our 4G LTE network has consistently exceeded our expectations for both speeds and capacity,” commented Eric Anderson, BendBroadband’s director of wireless engineering. “With the push – both internationally and locally -- to further develop wireless network features and performance, we’re confident that our new 4G LTE network will allow us to provide superior wireless products for many years to come.”
To ensure its customers experience only the fastest and most reliable service possible, at the end of June 2012 BendBroadband will be shutting down its original HSPA + wireless network and will only be offering the new 4G LTE service. This means customers will need to switch to a new 4G LTE router as soon as possible to avoid any interruption in service.