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The last mile refers to the final leg of the telecommunications networks that delivers communication connectivity to the customers or users. In other words, it is the part that actually reaches the user. The phrase is used by telecommunications, cable television and internet industries. The word “mile” is not used literally as the length of the last mile link may be more or less than a mile. This term can also be used interchangeably with first mile. This is because from the user’s point of view, it is the first mile from the user to the world.
The last mile communications medium are copper, fiber, Ethernet via copper or fiber, cellular, private radio spectrum, licensed private radio spectrum, and satellite. Examples of last mile connectivity are the following: the copper wire subscriber lines connecting the telephones to local telephone exchange, cell towers linking mobile phones to cellular networks, and coaxial cable service drops that carry cable television signals from utility poles to the subscriber’s homes.
Existing Last Mile Delivery Systems
There are a variety of options available for the business organization. It is recommended that the business checks the services available at the business location and decide which service makes the most sense to adopt. After deciding the services to be adopted, the business can then choose the option suitable for the organization.
There are several existing last mile delivery systems. Some of them are the following; wired systems, local area networks, telephone, CATV, lightwaves, wireless delivery systems, radio waves, one-way and two-way wireless communications, and satellite communications.
Wired systems provide guided conduits for ICE or Information-Carrying Energy. It has some degree of shielding that limits susceptibility to noises. It also has transmission line losses that are proportional to the length. There is a maximum length to which it can provide adequate support to information flow.
Local area networks or LAN are traditionally wired LAN systems that use copper coaxial cables or twisted pairs between or among two or more network nodes. Signal loss and reflections over this option can be set at a maximum distance. The decrease of information to the user is roughly proportional to the number of users in the LAN.
CATV or Community Antenna Television Systems is popularly known as cable television or cable. It provides bidirectional communication over existing physical cables. Periodic amplifiers within the system must be used to mitigate cable loss.
Another option is through wireless delivery systems. The term mobile mile was coined for the last mile connection with this type of system. It is usually unshielded thus it is more susceptible to noise and unwanted signals. The presence of obstructions such as the terrain, buildings and foliage can increase the loss of free space value and can alter the transmission characteristics.
Radio frequencies or RF is another option. RF has wavelengths that are longer than visible light. This results in increased attenuation or path loss for systems that are not directional. To the last mile problem though, the RF wavelengths have an advantage over light waves when sectored transmissions are considered.
Michelle Patterson is an avid technology blogger and writes extensively about IP/VoIP and Unified Communication. She works with some leading companies to understand the trends of these modern communication technologies.