last-mile technology

Last-mile technology is any telecommunications technology that carries signals from the broad telecommunication backbone along the relatively short distance (hence, the "last mile") to and from the home or business.

Last-mile technology is any telecommunications technology that carries signals from the broad telecommunication backbone along the relatively short distance (hence, the "last mile") to and from the home or business. Or to put it another way: the infrastructure at the neighborhood level.

In many communities, last-mile technology represents a major remaining challenge because the cost of providing high-speed, high-bandwidth services to individual subscribers in remote areas can be higher than the service provider would like. Laying wire and fiber optic cables is an expensive undertaking that can be environmentally demanding and require high maintenance. Experts hope that broadband wireless networks will eventually provide the solution and meet everyone's needs.

Today, last-mile technologies include:

  • plain old telephone systems (POTS)
  • ISDN, a somewhat faster technology than regular phone service
  • Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) over existing telephone twisted pair lines
  • cable and the cable modem for data, using the same installed coaxial cable that already is used for television
  • wireless, including satellite services such as DirectTV
  • optical fiber and its transmission technologies
This was first published in April 2005

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