Fixed wireless access is transforming from a ‘last resort’ broadband option into a viable competitive alternative on the back of 5G, additional spectrum and advances in network equipment, a new global industry report by US analyst Mobile Ecosystem has found.
The Business Case for Fixed Wireless Access reveals that new market, technical and business drivers are compelling operators in the United States, Canada and Western Europe to take a fresh look at fixed wireless access as a commercially viable option to other broadband technologies, including Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTP).
Companies such as Australian specialist telecommunications provider, Netcomm Wireless (ASX:NTC) that bridge the gap between fibre and the home, device or machine could be poised to take advantage of this trend as operators around the world determine that one size does not fit all when providing broadband services in their local areas.
Mark Lowenstein, Mobile Ecosystem Managing Director and author of the report, said that while the report provides a framework for operators to access the viability of fixed wireless as an alternative to typical fibre broadband solutions, the operator needs to carefully consider the end-to-end solutions.
“Even with all the spectrum, technology and policy elements coming together to create the perfect landscape for fixed wireless to become part of the mainstream broadband mix, there is no one-size-fits all solution,” he said.
“The business case for FWA varies not only from country to country but literally by city and neighbourhood, with key factors such as the fixed broadband situation, the existence and cost of fibre-based solutions, population density, topography and available/planned spectrum capacity all coming into play.”
For dense urban markets, the report found that mmWave provides a good alternative, especially where FTTP is costly to install. In lower-density urban/dense suburban scenarios, the expected availability of 3.5 GHz spectrum is likely to make fixed wireless access viable in sub-6 GHz spectrum for both 5G and LTE in a number of markets.
NBN in Australia and AT&T in the US are both examples of markets where fixed wireless has been rolled out as a broadband solution in rural areas.
NetComm Wireless (ASX: NTC) is a leading developer of Fixed Wireless Consumer Premise Equipment (CPE) with more than 10 years’ experience in this space.
Els Baert, Director of Technology Strategy at NetComm, said the company has developed a range of best practices such as optimised installation and antenna design to ensure the solution can compete with traditional fixed broadband services.
We are in the early days of a new era for fixed wireless which will see it move to become a viable alternative not only in rural areas. We are confident many operators will see fixed wireless as a significant opportunity as we enter the 5G era,” Baert said.
“But the report is spot-on when it says there is not a one-size-fits-all approach – that is exactly why we work closely with operators to develop solutions that meet their needs,” added Baert.
The report compares 5G mmWave and 5G/LTE sub- 6 GHz based options. It also compares the fixed wireless access option to Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) and Fiber-to-the-distribution point (FTTdp) solutions, plotting Capital Expenditure (CapEx), Operating Expenditure (OpEx), Customer Premises Equipment (CPE), and installation variables against key market factors such as density, spectrum breadth and depth, and topography to develop a revenue model.