5G FWA - One Competitive Solution for Fiber

Date: 2021-11-16 Source: Suma Tech

Are you aware that up to 50% of the world’s population is still waiting for reliable broadband access? This large number of underserved households represents a profitable fixed wireless access (FWA) growth opportunity for current 3GPP operators — and the recent studies show fixed wireless access investments typically have a payback time of less than two years. Are you ready to win millions of new customers and tap into a new stream of revenues?

Definition of FWA (Fixed Wireless Access)

A connection that provides broadband access through mobile network enabled customer premises equipment (CPE). This includes various form factors of CPEs, such as indoor (desktop and window) or outdoor (rooftop and wall mounted).

Figure 1: FWA Diagram (Source: Samsung - 5G Fixed Wireless Access)

Why need 5G FWA?

Few hundred meters of last mile deployment has been a major obstacle for wireline broadband technologies. A solution to this time consuming and costly last mile deployment is Fixed Wireless Access (FWA). FWA is an innovative solution which enables easy and rapid deployment of broadband networks. It allows operators to meet the increasing demand for high speed broadband services time to market and more cost-effectively.

Figure 2: Last hundreds meters access solutions (Source: Huawei - 4G/5G FWA Broadband White Paper)

FWA solution using LTE or WiMAX has been around for many years, but its speed is not nearly as fast as other high speed broadband solutions such as fiber. With the introduction of 5G, the speed of FWA is now comparable to fiber. 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) employs standardized 3GPP architectures and common mobile components to deliver ultra-high-speed broadband services to residential subscribers and small & medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) customers, especially for the video services that more and more consumers demand.

Figure 3: Video – the dominating use of broadband (Source: Ericsson - Fixed Wireless Access Handbook)

5G FWA Use Cases

As the World Economic Forum reports a 30 percent increase for internet use worldwide with the increased pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing consumer demand has never been more important. Users paying for ultrafast, reliable internet expect faster and better services. The appetite for high-quality and enhanced services will remain even after the pandemic subsides.

FWA has particularly good prospects in certain types of scenarios or areas, such as temporary use, WFH (Work from Home), developing nations, rural areas, MDUs (Multiple Dwelling Unit), or other places where it is impractical or too costly to lay fiber.

Figure 4: FWA use cases (Source: STL Partners)

Besides, in many markets, operators need to work with national, regional and municipal government at different stages in order to obtain necessary construction and deployment permits for equipment along the way. This whole process can take days to weeks whereas for FWA takes only several minutes. In this case, subscribers can enjoy a broadband experience just as they would with FTTH, without the trouble of paying (and waiting) for a contractor to dig up their front lawn to bury a physical fiber line to their home.

Figure 5: Deployment comparison between wireline and 5G FWA (Source: Samsung - 5G Fixed Wireless Access)

The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating digitalization, as well as increasing the importance and need for fast and reliable home broadband connectivity. FWA is the quickest alternative to meet this demand. Until now, over 70 percent of all service providers are now offering fixed wireless access (FWA) services. Meanwhile, almost 90 percent of service providers that have launched 5G also have an FWA offering (4G and/or 5G).

Meanwhile, due to the fact that FTTH needs long time to obtain permission of Right of Way (RoW) and considerable civil work, it prolongs the deployment process. In contrast, FWA deployments are more sustainable and environment friendly than fiber, as most of the infrastructure is reused, which greatly reducing average per connection costs. So that networks of the same TCO can serve more families than FTTH.

In summary, with the help of 5G technologies, now FWA offers up to Gbps broadband experience, helping operators provide fiber like broadband services, more importantly, connecting a home with 5G FWA opens up a number of possible revenue streams beyond pure connectivity.

Ericsson - Fixed Wireless Access Handbook.
Nokia - Fixed Wireless Access E-book.
Huawei - 4G/5G FWA Broadband White Paper.
Samsung - 5G Fixed Wireless Access White Paper.
Broadband Communities - 5G: Technology That Will Release The Full Potential of FWA
STL Partners - Fixed wireless access: What is the difference between 4G and 5G?

*If copyright disputes, please contact us to delete.