Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service

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MMDS microwave dish Mmds dish1.jpg
MMDS microwave dish

Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service (MMDS), formerly known as Broadband Radio Service (BRS) and also known as Wireless Cable, is a wireless telecommunications technology, used for general-purpose broadband networking or, more commonly, as an alternative method of cable television programming reception.

In telecommunications, broadband is wide bandwidth data transmission which transports multiple signals and traffic types. The medium can be coaxial cable, optical fiber, radio or twisted pair.

Computer network collection of autonomous computers interconnected by a single technology

A computer network is a digital telecommunications network which allows nodes to share resources. In computer networks, computing devices exchange data with each other using connections between nodes. These data links are established over cable media such as wires or optic cables, or wireless media such as Wi-Fi.

Cable television Television content transmitted via signals on coaxial cable

Cable television is a system of delivering television programming to consumers via radio frequency (RF) signals transmitted through coaxial cables, or in more recent systems, light pulses through fiber-optic cables. This contrasts with broadcast television, in which the television signal is transmitted over the air by radio waves and received by a television antenna attached to the television; or satellite television, in which the television signal is transmitted by a communications satellite orbiting the Earth and received by a satellite dish on the roof. FM radio programming, high-speed Internet, telephone services, and similar non-television services may also be provided through these cables. Analog television was standard in the 20th century, but since the 2000s, cable systems have been upgraded to digital cable operation.


MMDS is used in Australia, Barbados, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Iceland, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Portugal (including Madeira), Russia, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Ukraine, United States, and Uruguay. It is most commonly used in sparsely populated rural areas, where laying cables is not economically viable, although some companies have also offered MMDS services in urban areas, most notably in Ireland, until they were phased out in 2016. [1]

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.

Barbados Country in the Caribbean

Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies, in the Caribbean region of North America. It is 34 kilometres in length and up to 23 km (14 mi) in width, covering an area of 432 km2 (167 sq mi). It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 km (62 mi) east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, Barbados is east of the Windwards, part of the Lesser Antilles, roughly at 13°N of the equator. It is about 168 km (104 mi) east of both the countries of Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and 180 km (110 mi) south-east of Martinique and 400 km (250 mi) north-east of Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados is outside the principal Atlantic hurricane belt. Its capital and largest city is Bridgetown.

Belarus country in Eastern Europe

Belarus, officially the Republic of Belarus, formerly known by its Russian name Byelorussia or Belorussia, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk. Over 40% of its 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) is forested. Its major economic sectors are service industries and manufacturing. Until the 20th century, different states at various times controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including the Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire.


The BRS band uses microwave frequencies from 2.5 GHz to 2.7 GHz. Reception of BRS-delivered television and data signals is done with a rooftop microwave antenna. The antenna is attached to a down-converter or transceiver to receive and transmit the microwave signal and convert them to frequencies compatible with standard TV tuners (much like on satellite dishes where the signals are converted down to frequencies more compatible with standard TV coaxial cabling), some antennas use an integrated down-converter or transceiver. Digital TV channels can then be decoded with a standard cable set-top box or directly for TVs with integrated digital tuners. Internet data can be received with a standard DOCSIS Cable Modem connected to the same antenna and transceiver.

Microwave form of electromagnetic radiation

Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths ranging from about one meter to one millimeter; with frequencies between 300 MHz (1 m) and 300 GHz (1 mm). Different sources define different frequency ranges as microwaves; the above broad definition includes both UHF and EHF bands. A more common definition in radio engineering is the range between 1 and 100 GHz. In all cases, microwaves include the entire SHF band at minimum. Frequencies in the microwave range are often referred to by their IEEE radar band designations: S, C, X, Ku, K, or Ka band, or by similar NATO or EU designations.

The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of frequencies of electromagnetic radiation and their respective wavelengths and photon energies.

Satellite dish antenna for TV and radio reception

A satellite dish is a dish-shaped type of parabolic antenna designed to receive or transmit information by radio waves to or from a communication satellite. The term most commonly means a dish used by consumers to receive direct-broadcast satellite television from a direct broadcast satellite in geostationary orbit.

The MMDS band is separated into 33 6 MHz "channels" (31 in USA) which may be licensed to cable companies offering service in different areas of a country. The concept was to allow entities to own several channels and multiplex several television, radio, and later Internet data onto each channel using digital technology. Just like with Digital Cable channels, each channel is capable of 30.34 Mbit/s with 64QAM modulation, and 42.88 Mbit/s with 256QAM modulation. Due to forward error correction and other overhead, actual throughput is around 27 Mbit/s for 64QAM and 38 Mbit/s for 256QAM.

Multiplexing method by which multiple analog or digital signals are combined into one signal over a shared medium

In telecommunications and computer networks, multiplexing is a method by which multiple analog or digital signals are combined into one signal over a shared medium. The aim is to share a scarce resource. For example, in telecommunications, several telephone calls may be carried using one wire. Multiplexing originated in telegraphy in the 1870s, and is now widely applied in communications. In telephony, George Owen Squier is credited with the development of telephone carrier multiplexing in 1910.

In telecommunication, information theory, and coding theory, forward error correction (FEC) or channel coding is a technique used for controlling errors in data transmission over unreliable or noisy communication channels. The central idea is the sender encodes the message in a redundant way by using an error-correcting code (ECC).

The newer BRS Band Plan makes changes to channel size and licensing in order to accommodate new WIMAX TDD fixed and mobile equipment, and reallocated frequencies from 2150–2162 MHz to the AWS band. These changes may not be compatible with the frequencies and channel sizes required for operating traditional MMDS or DOCSIS based equipment.


Local Multipoint Distribution Service (LMDS) and BRS have adapted the DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) from the cable modem world. The version of DOCSIS modified for wireless broadband is known as DOCSIS+.

Local Multipoint Distribution Service (LMDS) is a broadband wireless access technology originally designed for digital television transmission (DTV). It was conceived as a fixed wireless, point-to-multipoint technology for utilization in the last mile. LMDS commonly operates on microwave frequencies across the 26 GHz and 29 GHz bands. In the United States, frequencies from 31.0 through 31.3 GHz are also considered LMDS frequencies.

Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification is an international telecommunications standard that permits the addition of high-bandwidth data transfer to an existing cable television (CATV) system. It is used by many cable television operators to provide Internet access over their existing hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) infrastructure. The version numbers are sometimes prefixed with simply "D" instead of "DOCSIS".

Cable modem networking device

A cable modem is a type of network bridge that provides bi-directional data communication via radio frequency channels on a hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC), radio frequency over glass (RFoG) and coaxial cable infrastructure. Cable modems are primarily used to deliver broadband Internet access in the form of cable Internet, taking advantage of the high bandwidth of a HFC and RFoG network. They are commonly deployed in the Americas, Asia, Australia, and Europe.

Data-transport security is accomplished under BRS by encrypting traffic flows between the broadband wireless modem and the WMTS (Wireless Modem Termination System) located in the base station of the provider's network using Triple DES.

Base station

Base station is – according to the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) Radio Regulations (RR) – a "land station in the land mobile service."

In cryptography, Triple DES, officially the Triple Data Encryption Algorithm, is a symmetric-key block cipher, which applies the DES cipher algorithm three times to each data block.

DOCSIS+ reduces theft-of-service vulnerabilities under BRS by requiring that the WMTS enforce encryption, and by employing an authenticated client/server key-management protocol in which the WMTS controls distribution of keying material to broadband wireless modems.

LMDS and BRS wireless modems utilize the DOCSIS+ key-management protocol to obtain authorization and traffic encryption material from a WMTS, and to support periodic reauthorization and key refresh. The key-management protocol uses X.509 digital certificates, RSA public key encryption, and Triple DES encryption to secure key exchanges between the wireless modem and the WMTS.

MMDS provided significantly greater range than LMDS.

MMDS may be obsoleted by the newer 802.16 WiMAX standard approved since 2004.

MMDS was sometimes expanded to Multipoint Microwave Distribution System or Multi-channel Multi-point Distribution System. All three phrases refer to the same technology.

Current status

In the United States, WATCH Communications (based in Lima, Ohio), Eagle Vision (based in Kirksville, MO), and several other companies offer MMDS-based wireless cable television, Internet access, and IP-based telephone services.

In certain areas, BRS is being deployed for use as wireless high-speed Internet access, mostly in rural areas where other types of high-speed internet are either unavailable (such as cable or DSL) or prohibitively expensive (such as satellite internet). CommSPEED is a major vendor in the US market for BRS-based internet. [2]

AWI Networks (formerly Sky-View Technologies) operates a number of MMDS sites delivering high-speed Internet, VoIP telephone, and Digital TV services in the Southwestern U.S. [3] In 2010, AWI began upgrading its infrastructure to DOCSIS 3.0 hardware, along with new microwave transmission equipment, allowing higher modulation rates like 256QAM. This has enabled download speeds in excess of 100 Mbit/s, over distances up to 35 miles from the transmission site.

In the early days of MMDS, it was known as "Wireless Cable" and was used in a variety of investment scams that still surface today. [4] Frequent solicitations of Wireless Cable fraud schemes were often heard on talk radio shows like The Sonny Bloch Show in the mid-1990s. [5]

Several US telephone companies attempted television services via this system in the mid-1990s the Tele-TV venture of Bell Atlantic, NYNEX and Pacific Bell; and the rival Americast consortium of Ameritech, BellSouth, SBC, SNET and GTE. The Tele-TV operation was only launched from 1999 to 2001 by Pacific Bell (the merged Bell Atlantic/NYNEX never launched a service), while Americast also petered out by that time, albeit mainly in GTE and BellSouth areas; the systems operated by Ameritech utilized standard wired cable.

In the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and British Columbia, Craig Wireless operates a wireless cable and internet service (MMDS) for rural and remote customers. In Saskatchewan, Sasktel operated an MMDS system under the name Wireless Broadband Internet (WBBI) for rural internet access until it was shut down in 2014 and replaced with an LTE-TDD system due to reallocation of the radio spectrum by Industry Canada. [6]

In Mexico, the 2.5 GHz band spectrum was reclaimed by the government in order to allow newer and better wireless data services. [7] Hence, MAS TV (formerly known as MVS Multivision) had to relinquish the concessions for TV broadcast and shut down its MMDS pay TV services in 2014 after 25 years of service.

In Ireland, since 1990, [8] UPC Ireland (previously Chorus and NTL Ireland) offered MMDS TV services almost nationwide. The frequency band initially allocated was 2500–2690 MHz (the "2.6 GHz band") consisting of 22–23 8 MHz analogue channels; digital TV was restricted to 2524–2668 MHz, consisting of 18 8 MHz digital channels. Two digital TV standards were used: DVB-T/MPEG-2 in the old Chorus franchise area and DVB-C/MPEG-2 in the old NTL franchise area. The existing licences were to expire 18 April 2014 but Comreg, the Irish communications regulator, extended the licences for a further 2 years to 18 April 2016 at which date they expired together with all associated spectrum rights of use. The 2.6 GHz band spectrum will be auctioned off so that when the existing MMDS licences expire new rights of use can issue on a service and technology neutral basis (by means of new licences). As a result, holders of the new rights of use may choose to provide any service capable of being delivered using 2.6 GHz spectrum. For instance, they could distribute television programming content, subject to complying with the relevant technical conditions and with any necessary broadcasting content authorisations, or they could adopt some other use. [9]

In Iceland, since November 2006, Vodafone Iceland runs Digital Ísland (Digital Iceland) the broadcasting system for 365 (media corporation), (previously operated by 365 Broadcast Media). Digital Ísland offers digital MMDS television services using DVB-T technology alongside a few analogue channels. The MMDS frequency range extends from 2500–2684 MHz for a total of 23 8 MHz channels, of which 21 are considered usable for broadcasting in Iceland. Analogue MMDS broadcasting began in 1993, moving to digital in 2004.

In Brazil, the shutdown of the MMDS technology started in 2012 to release the frequency for the 2500–2600 MHz LTE-UTRAN band, which would make the service infeasible. The national shutdown was planned to be finished at the end of 2012; as of 2013, the service had already been shutdown in most cities. [10]

In the Dominican Republic, Wind Telecom started operations using MMDS technology in 2008; at that time and ever since it became a pioneer taking advantage of such implementations. The company uses the DVB standard for its digital television transmissions.

See also

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  1. Virgin Media records full-year loss as revenues dip, Irish Times , November 24, 2016
  2. CommSPEED
  3. AWI Networks
  4. Wireless Cable Scams
  5. Sonny Bloch Radio Show Host Charged with Fraud
  6. "SaskTel Launches High Speed Fusion Internet Service to Remaining 43 WBBI Towers".
  8. The Launch of the MMDS TV Distribution System 12.04.1990
  9. ComReg Ireland Final Decision on proposal to renew the existing MMDS licences from 19 April 2014 to 18 April 2016