One of my colleagues raised an interesting point about the title of my upcoming panel discussion at Gigabit Access in Brussels.
The session is titled - Fixed Wireless: The new standard for broadband?
Her comment was: “That should be a statement – not a question.”
2017 was a “watershed moment” for Fixed Wireless. The network access technology that was initially developed for mobile phones is being used to connect the unconnected, and is now attracting a significant amount global attention for the broadband use case as the ramifications of 5G begin to be understood.
Fixed Wireless has been successful in bringing consistent broadband services to homes and
businesses in underserved areas to date, where it’s not commercially viable to deploy fixed networks. And while rural broadband is still the primary use case for technology today (4G), new markets and service categories for fixed wireless access are fast emerging with the advent of the 5G standard.
Much of this growth is driven by encouraging network deployment economics. Fixed wireless enables the reliability of fixed line-equivalent broadband services without the need to deploy costly in-ground infrastructure over sometimes massive distances.
Once reserved for rural areas located beyond the reach of fixed line infrastructure, fixed wireless 5G will soon out-perform VDSL in urban areas. The technology is being considered to make use of existing infrastructure and there are no permanent facilities.
ABI Research released a report that forecasts worldwide fixed wireless broadband subscribers will grow at a 30% CAGR to top 151 million in 2022. It states that the “exponential growth of 4G LTE coverage and capacity is driving wireless service growth”.
Much of the noise in the press today is coming from the arrival of 5G fixed wireless. Media coverage is saturated with announcements about 5G trials and launch plans, and everyone’s talking about the urban 5G eMBB use case.