5G industry news Telecommunications Tech | Fixed Wireless Access

5GFWA: a key enabler of a gigabit society

  • 4 minute read
  • Published by Wim Van Thillo on 4 Jan 2022
  • Last modified 12 Jan 2022
Wim Van Thillo, Co-founder and CEO of Pharrowtech, explains how 5GFWA will enable operators to deliver high-quality connectivity to everyone, everywhere

5G is gaining global attention and promises to revolutionise the landscape of modern businesses, making them faster, more efficient and more productive. With enterprises the world over realising its potential, the commercialisation of 5G is accelerating in both developed and developing economies. The benefits of 5G are not limited to businesses, however - they will transform every aspect of our day to day lives.

Our increased online presence requires reliable connectivity, whether it's for remote working, online doctors' appointments, or even streaming football. High-quality internet is essential for the continuity of business and everyday life. With the internet of things (IoT) continuing to grow, other cutting-edge innovations such as automation and artificial intelligence are also expected to benefit tremendously from 5G. Up to a million devices per square kilometer can be connected using 5G, allowing true IoT connectivity. The development of 5G technology is helping businesses meet changing consumer expectations and deliver high-speed, low latency internet connections to everyone, everywhere.

The constantly growing demand for high-speed internet is creating an opportunity for fixed wireless access (FWA) to take centre stage by delivering fibre-like internet connectivity to rural and urban areas alike. Operators across the globe are capitalising on this opportunity, with data recently released by GSMA showing that nearly 500 operators offered FWA in 2021. The enhanced connectivity and low latency offered by 5G improves FWA’s economics and gives  operators the tools to address current and future market demands. New findings by ABI Research show that FWA will reach 180 million subscribers, and 5GFWA will account for 40% of the total FWA market, by 2026. Operators need to combine 5G with FWA to democratise broadband connectivity as 5G deployments continue to accelerate.

5G FWA – delivering ultrafast connectivity

The global rollout of 5G is enabling 5GFWA to become the fastest-growing segment of the home broadband market globally.  One of the reasons for this is the greater flexibility and network capacity that 5GFWA offers. Unlike fibre, 5GFWA can easily be installed in rural areas with geographical limitations, such as mountains, and at a much lower cost. Delivering high-speed, reliable broadband to underserved or sparsely populated areas, 5GFWA will be a game changer in providing last-mile connectivity. Using the mmWave spectrum to enable multi GHz speeds, 5GFWA offer latencies as low as 1ms, matching the response time of fixed connections. 5G network capacity ranges from 10 to 100 times that of 4G networks, making 5GFWA an attractive alternative to fibre. 5GFWA will form the foundation of the gigabit society and provide the additional speed and capacity that next-generation networks offer. 

The advantage of unlicensed spectrum

Most 5G FWA networks are currently dependent on mid-band spectrum, but mmWave can add further strength in delivering connectivity on par with fibre or DOCSIS technologies. mmWave technologies have emerged as an option not just for mobile 5G access, but also for gigabit broadband to homes and businesses. The majority of today's mmWave usage is confined to the licensed spectrum ranges used by tier-1 operators, but there is an underused band in the 60 GHz range that can enhance network connectivity. 5G mmWave operates in the 30GHz to 300GHz frequency range, and this spectrum is uniquely capable of delivering the multi-gigabit data rates 5G promises.

Increased sources of revenue

For operators to effectively monetise FWA services, they should take into account consumer trends and set commercial priorities accordingly. For example, forming unique FWA packages to fit data and bandwidth requirements will increase adoption rates. A high bandwidth will be the most important requirement in the age of the metaverse, when consumers and businesses are moving to applications such as HD streaming, cloud gaming, and augmented and virtual reality. This provides operators with ample opportunity to take advantage of FWA's key benefits and generate additional revenue.

These advantages of 5GFWA point to its ability to establish itself as a reliable broadband network and contribute to the growth of gigabit society. Although FWA has been in existence for more than two decades, the massive performance improvements enabled by 5G and the use of mmWave spectrums make 5GFWA a viable solution for next generation broadband connectivity.