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Last Mile Services

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Note: Many topics at this site are reduced versions of the text in "The Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications." Search results will not be as extensive as a search of the book's CD-ROM.

"Last mile" is a metaphor that refers to any of the communication links that connect homes and offices to carrier networks and the Internet. A variety of services can provide broadband data connectivity to carrier and service provider networks and the Internet. Broadband generally refers to services above 56 Kbits/sec (typical modem). The communication links may include cable (CATV), local loop twisted-pair cable, wireless systems, and fiber-optic systems. At the end of the last mile are homes, small businesses, apartment buildings, condominium projects, office buildings, and so on. Buildings with multiple occupants are often referred to as MTUs (multi-tenant units).

The "local loop" refers to the copper twisted-pair telephone wire that links the telephone company central office with homes and businesses. Local loop services are a subset of last mile services.

Besides dial-up lines, DSL is the only service that can provide a nonshared link all the way to the subscriber. This is because DSL runs on top of the twisted-pair telephone circuit. The subscriber gets all the bandwidth. DSL can be used as a shared link as well. For example, a DSL link may connect all the users in an apartment building to the central office and Internet.

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