At the Gigabit Access conference in Brussels, April 10-11, CTO Steve Collins discussed the role of Fixed Wireless in a fully connected Europe. 

The discussion focussed on different ways to bring fast broadband to everyone, and a consensus emerged that although it would be great to have a full fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network everywhere, this strategy has proven to be more challenging than originally anticipated: too expensive or too complex. Therefore, new paths are being explored by leading operators to bring fibre-like speeds over different technologies.

Operators face two major challenges when building a fibre network: bridging the last few 100s meters to bring the fibre into the home, and connecting isolated homes in remote areas. Solutions like fibre-to-the-distribution point (FTTdp) and Fixed Wireless are great alternatives.

With Gfast distribution point units (DPUs), operators can install a small device close to the end-users’ home without entering the home. As Gfast uses higher frequencies than the currently deployed VDSL, speeds of up to 1Gbps can be provided over the twisted pair. The devices are completely sealed so they can withstand any environmental conditions and are reverse-powered to avoid the cost of running power lines.

In rural and remote areas, 4G LTE Fixed Wireless has proven to be the best fit-for-purpose technology. It creates a line of sight connection that delivers an assured level of broadband speed and performance to homes and businesses located beyond the reach of fixed technologies. With the European commission setting targets to connect everyone in Europe to a minimum of 100 Mbps, a reliable sustained 4G Fixed Wireless connection can help operators meet that goal.

In the Fixed Wireless space, 5G has become the main topic. Although it is still early days for 5G, there are lots of announcements around trials and launch plans and the prospect of using the extra spectrum for fixed broadband services is promising. However, at the conference it became clear that there are many opinions about the new use cases for Fixed Wireless.

There is one thing that everyone agrees on though: 4G and 5G Fixed Wireless each have their own rural and urban uses respectively, and will coexist for many years to come.  

The benefit of building gigabit societies is obvious and it’s time to focus on alternative solutions to FTTH to deliver those speeds. Although the approach of FTTdp and Fixed Wireless as an alternative is universal, every network is unique and has unique opportunities to leverage these solutions. There is no one solution to fit all.

NetComm Wireless has helped many tier 1 operators with access technologies such as intelligent Fixed Wireless Access and Distribution Point Unit. If you’d like to explore solutions for your network, please get in touch.

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