What is Last Mile and First Mile?

What are the last mile and first mile? This is an important telecommunication term that is used in all broadband communication methods. In this post, I will explain the term, its differences, and some detail about term.

In fact, the last mile and the first mile are the same things.   

The link between the Service Providers and end users is often called the last mile by Service Providers, or from an end user’s perspective, the first mile.   

I explained the Broadband Access Technologies in one of my earlier posts. In any of the broadband access technologies, such as xDSL, CATV (Cable Broadband), FTTx, BPL (Broadband over Powerline), Satellite, Fix Wireless, or Mobile Broadband, the term last mile is used extensively.  

The last mile is part of the access network.  

Just let’s remember the xDSL Broadband.  

In the last mile, we have Customer CPE (Router, Switch, PC, etc.) , DSL modem, twisted pair copper cable, and DSLAM. DSLAM is the rack that keeps so many DSL modems at the Service Provider location. Each customer-side DSL modem is terminated at the modem in the DSLAM.  

The link between the Modem and the DSLAM in the xDSL case is the last mile.  

Last but not least, for example in the Cable Broadband architecture (Most commonly deployed Fix Broadband technology in the U.S), customer CPE, Cable Modem, Amplifiers, Splitters, Coaxial Cable to the distribution Hub, From Hub to the Headend Fiber Cables and the CMTS (Cable Modem Termination System) are the access network elements.  

The link between the Cable modem and the CMTS (Cable Modem Termination System) is the last mile, from the MSO (Cable Operator is also called Multiple System Operators), and the first mile from the subscriber's point of view.  

Note: Those routing geeks will remember the last hop and the first hop router in Multicast. The last hop router from the network to the multicast receiver is also called as first hop router, from the multicast receiver point of view.

Created by
Orhan Ergun

Orhan Ergun, CCIE/CCDE Trainer, Author of Many Networking Books, Network Design Advisor, and Cisco Champion 2019/2020/2021

He created OrhanErgun.Net 10 years ago and has been serving the IT industry with his renowned and awarded training.

Wrote many books, mostly on Network Design, joined many IETF RFCs, gave Public talks at many Forums, and mentored thousands of his students.  

Today, with his carefully selected instructors, OrhanErgun.Net is providing IT courses to tens of thousands of IT engineers. 

View profile