What Does Last Mile Technology Mean?

The last mile problem, in the context of telecommunications, refers to a gap between a broadband internet service provider's infrastructure and a customer's home or workplace. Last mile connectivity is one of the biggest costs many businesses and home owners face when trying to access broadband services outside urban areas. Note that the term is figurative -- the actual distance can be more than a mile, particularly in rural areas.

In rural areas, it's been a challenge for telecommunication service providers to offer high-speed bandwidth services to every single subscriber because of the high cost of laying and maintaining fiber optic cable. Increasingly, Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) is being rolled out as a cost-effective way for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide small businesses and homes in remote locations with last mile connectivity.

FWA uses radio waves to create a connection between a Point-of-Presence cell tower and an external antenna located on the customer's home or business. When the antenna picks up a radio signal, it forwards the signal wirelessly to a special type of modem that converts the radio waves into WiFi signals.