12Broadband in Gas Line (BIG)

12.1 Introduction to BIG

Broadband in gas line (BIG) has been proposed as an alternative broadband access technology using natural gas pipelines as a microwave waveguide from a network access node to customer's homes and businesses. To a large degree, the BIG access architecture would be similar to coaxial cable systems. Both BIG and coaxial cables have a hundreds of homes and businesses sharing access to a common transmission medium connecting to a network access node. In the United States, natural gas lines serve 63 million residential customers and more than five million commercial enterprises [1]. There is no known deployed service using BIG technology, and it is not clear if any field trials have been conducted.

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Figure 12.1 BIG access architecture

12.2 Proposed Technology

The leading proponent of BIG technology is the StartUp company Nethercomm Corp. In theory, natural gas pipelines would provide an existing low-loss, low-noise, multi-drop radio waveguide to customers. Ultra-wideband radio technology has been proposed for BIG. The claimed media bit-rate capacity is approximately five to ten Gbps (probably combined upstream plus downstream) over a distance of ten kilometers or more. Like coaxial cable, this media bit-rate capacity would be shared by all customers connected to a distribution line. With a typical number of customers per line, ...

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