The urban opportunity for Fixed Wireless broadband

Written by Timo Brouwer, Chief Operating Officer, NetComm Wireless.

With more spectrum becoming available, we are seeing the urban and suburban business case for Fixed Wireless broadband strengthen wherever there is a need for fast speeds at a competitive cost of ownership.

Nationwide broadband connectivity is knitted together by a mix of fixed and wireless network technologies that are best suited to various geographies, population densities and service level requirements.

Fixed wireless was first introduced to connect the small percentage of underserved homes and businesses located beyond the reach of fixed line infrastructure. The use case is expanding, and operators can now tap into spectrum that is becoming available.

Idle spectrum is particularly valuable in rural areas where operators want to deliver high speed broadband using a range of existing spectrum assets. The 3.5GHz band for regional and rural applications is where this spectrum is typically underutilised and not practical for mobile.

While rural broadband remains the primary market for fixed wireless access, we’re now seeing new use cases arise as more spectrum, new bands and carrier aggregation become available. The fixed wireless opportunity is stealing headlines as wireless service providers look to take advantage of both urban and rural market opportunities.  With fixed wireless access promising to bring superfast and reliable broadband to homes and businesses at a fraction of the cost of full fibre deployments, operators are seriously considering the viability of fixed wireless as a mainstream broadband service.

The urban / suburban fixed wireless use case is gaining traction in areas where poor ADSL, VDSL and cable services are often limited to 20 Mbps. In these areas, some operators are trialling CAT 16 4G LTE fixed wireless which has the capacity to deliver Gigabit (1 Gbps) broadband speeds.

Whether deploying fixed wireless in a rural or urban / suburban environment, commercial viability hinges on some important considerations – the first being the capacity to deliver a minimum guaranteed link rate.

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