Microwave internet – Is it Better than Fiber Internet?

microwave internet cover image by tecjcity times

You’ve heard of a microwave oven that heats leftover food from last night. But the same microwave can help you watch your favorite shows sitting alone on a couch as you eat the stale pizza. But now what is this microwave internet and why hasn’t it become as popular as fiber or broadband cable?

It may come as a shock to you, microwave fiber uses a way of data transmission similar to that of satellite internet. But when it comes to speed, microwave internet, it can even beat the fast fiber internet. But is it affected by rain or weather? Is it cheap? And most importantly, is it safe for you? These are the topics the article will look into. 

What is Microwave internet?

The Internet works very simply (well not exactly, but to understand the basics). When you click on something, let’s say the link of this article, you send a request via google. This request reaches our servers. You uploaded a bit of data when you clicked the link. Our servers then look into what you need and then, send you the location of this page in the form of data. When the page opened, you downloaded a bit of data. This upload and download of data are how the internet works. 

But this data is sent physically. And this is where microwave internet and other such forms come into play. In fiberInternet, data transfers via high-bandwidth optic fiber cables. It is similarly received.  The wider the “road” for data to travel, the faster it downloads and uploads. 

Instead of using fiber for transmitting this data to you, microwave internet or WLA (wireless internet) used microwave radiation. There are multiple benefits for transmitting data wirelessly and I’ll discuss those later in the article.  This is why it is called microwave internet or the fixed internet.

There is a point of presence (PoP) which is connected to fiber internet. This PoP is the provider of microwave internet for you. It takes the data from the fiber connected and uses a microwave emitter to transmit the data wirelessly to the antenna (microwave receiver) installed at your house. 

microwave in the spectrum of EM radiation illustration
Image: Techcity Times

The benefits of microwave internet

If companies are using a different way of transmitting data to your place, there must be a reason for it. And there is. Microwave or wireless internet has a lot of merits that make it a desirable choice under some conditions. Here are the top five reasons wireless internet is preferred. 

  1. Lower latency – Since data is directly given to the user via air, no hop increases the latency. In the case of fiber connection, the optic fiber wire goes through a lot of junctions, gates, switches, turns, etc. This affects the latency or ping. The result of high latency is a laggy video called, unresponsive online gameplay, stream music without lag, calls over the internet does not work well. This is a hidden disease of high-speed internet that takes away all the joys of the speed. 
  2. High-speed internet where fiber internet is absent – The world is a huge place and just because there is fiber internet does not mean it’s everywhere. Fiber internet requires a lot of infrastructure and hence, most of the rural areas lack it. This is where microwave internet comes for the save. The PoP delivers high-speed internet via the air (hence infrastructure is required for this transmission). All you need is a microwave receiver to get all that internet. This leads to the next point. 
  3. The installation time is very less – when getting a fiber connection, especially in a crowded city, the whole procedure could be time-consuming. The engineers have to pull the cable, find the best way to deliver the line, etc. This usually takes about a week or sometimes even more. The time is excruciatingly long for business fiber installment. For wireless internet, all that’s needed to be fixed is a microwave receiver and the router. You are good to go.
  4. Speed and reliability – Microwave internet is fast, like very fast. It can offer speeds ranging from 20 Mbps to 1 Gbps. Add that to low latency and easy installment and you get a great service. One issue with fiber internet (which I have personally faced) is once there is some infrastructural error, you can kiss your internet connection goodbye for at least a week (for me it was 14 days). Since there are no wires used in data transfer in microwave internet, there is no chance of cables or wires getting affected. 
  5. Great for businesses – a fiber connection is good for personal usage. But when it comes to professional usage, wireless internet is preferred for its speed, ease of installation, higher data allowance, and reliability.  So have we found the best internet? Can installing microwave internet solve all your connectivity problems? Could you become the God of the internet? Nah.

The shortfalls of microwave internet

When it comes to internet connectivity, nothing could be perfect. Choosing your internet is about to see what shortfalls you can work with. Microwave internet has some shortcomings as well. While connectivity, availability, reliability is mostly dependent on your internet service provider, there are two problems with wireless internet; safety and weather. 

A question that pops up many times is whether microwave internet safe or not.  All the major advisory boards in terms of safety have deemed microwave internet safe. But there’s a catch. While the connection is safe, it is advised that one should never stand facing the microwave receiver. Not a big concern since no one would intentionally do that, but still a caution that is not present in fiber internet. 

transmission of signal in microwave internet
Image: Techcity times

The other issue is the weather.  In the event of rain or bad weather, wireless internet tends to suffer up to some extent. This doesn’t mean the whole internet service goes down, but the speed takes a hit. This happens in heavy raining or really bad weather so it shouldn’t be something you should worry a lot about. But if you live in a place where it rains a lot, it is better not to get this internet connection. 

The types of equipment used in microwave internet 

There are a few things that is essential for setting up microwave internet connection. The most important thing you need is a microwave receiver antenna. This is the component that detects the incoming signals from the transmitter and sends it down your WiFi router. The router is connected to the antenna using an ethernet cable. This is pretty much the basics of the equipments needed.

Setting up the receiver antenna is crucial for the microwave internet to work. Remember that the signals coming from the transmitter travels in a straight line and is very susceptible to physical objects. Anything that comes between the two antennas will disrupt the signals. This is why the antennas are at an elevated position. That wraps up the article. See you again. When you need some tech query of yours to be solved.

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