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Salt River Sand & Rock, United States of America

Key Data

The Salt River Sand & Rock management team was confronted with a critical business dilemma: how to improve communications efficiencies between its dispersed and remote work sites, located throughout Arizona. Confronted with such communications and logistical inefficiencies (no phone lines or electricity at the scale sites), site managers were forced to rely on heavy, expensive cellular phone use.

To complicate matters, employees had to regularly drive to each location to deliver up-to-date pricing information. The company had attempted to use a cellular service to transmit pricing data and other time-sensitive business information, but found it unreliable and slow. It therefore required a solution to provide the immediate transfer of data from the main office to the remote scale sites, without using traditional phone lines.

To overcome Salt River's logistical and communications challenges, the company installed broadband wireless service in two of the scale site locations, providing Salt River with a high-speed connection between its main office and the remote sites. Improved communications via Broadband Direct also eliminated concerns over the inaccurate pricing of materials. As a result the isolated scale sites are in constant communication with Salt River's headquarters, using the broadband wireless service for email and file transfers without the cost and confusion of cellular service.


Unlike mobile wireless, fixed wireless uses a stationary digital transceiver at the home or business receiving the service. The transceiver is pointed towards a radio transmission tower to send and receive a signal. The digital transceiver is a small 13.5x13.5in diamond-shaped device, which is less than half the size of the common direct broadcast satellite TV dish. The radio transmission tower can send and receive high-speed internet data to customers up to 35 miles away, making it the perfect service for nearly all those in a metropolitan area, including suburban and rural areas too far away from the city to receive other broadband services.

In September 1998, the FCC issued the first permit for two-way operation with a multi-channel multi-point distribution service (MMDS) spectrum, to encourage more competition in the broadband access marketplace. MMDS operates in the 2.1 and 2.5-2.7GHz range, delivering multi-megabit download speeds. It will be used for the rapid deployment of high-speed internet access to the masses, even to inner urban and rural areas that, until now, have not been able to get any other type of broadband access.


The main advantage of fixed wireless technology is that it is more secure than other broadband networks. Service is not distance sensitive so there is no waiting period for a wired broadband connection. The wireless feature does not require a second phone line to hook a computer to the internet so there are no missed phone calls. Since the technology is wireless, the phone is dedicated to being exactly that. The service is available to both business and residential customers with line-of-sight to the cell transmit site. It will not be limited to certain neighbourhoods or business districts, as with wired services such as DSL or cable modems.


With extremely fast data connections, the technology will foster the development of many new broadband applications that were not feasible with slower dial-up links. When connections exceeding 1Mbps become available across the UK and abroad, the computing landscape will more than likely adapt itself to new broadband applications such as video telephone calls. According to the International Data Corporation, less than 5 per cent of commercial US buildings are linked to the public-switched network via fibre. This means 95 per cent of the estimated 750,000 US office buildings are still potential customers of wired or wireless broadband services. By the beginning of 2003, the company expects to have the service available to 40 different US markets to 15 million households.