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Fixed Wireless Success in the Residential Market – Part 2

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Part One of our Fixed Wireless Success in the Residential Market reviewed past efforts to deliver to the market cost competitive solutions with an acceptable ROI. In Part Two we will investigate how 5G mmWave addresses these shortcomings and offers a viable, competitive access solution.

Can 5G deliver?

Fast forward to today with 5G Fixed Wireless back in the conversation: is it real? Can 5G FWA solve the issues? Should it be perceived as a complimentary, gap-filling subsidized offering or must it be taken as a full-on competitive solution? The answer is a resounding yes, 5G FW can deliver.

  • CPE or TU costs - as momentum catches on, mature chip based solutions are hitting the market and drastically reducing the TU price. 100Mbps systems are available for sub $100, while $1Gbps TUs are seeing pricing coming down rapidly.
  • Coverage - as capacity requirements have increased, and Base Station costs are reduced, the cost to deliver multi Gbps to a given area improves.
  • Self-Installation - reducing or removing the installation labor costs can tip the business plan from struggling to profitable. 5G FWA systems are implementing beam steering as well as pseudo mesh topologies to support a self-install model.
  • Size and Aesthetics - 5G FWA by definition, operates in the microwave (28GHz) and mmWave (60, 70/80GHz) bands. With these higher frequencies, antenna sizes can be measured in a few square inches, allowing the units to be drastically reduced in size. Products hitting the market today are not much bigger than a smart phone. With very small, often color coordinated TUs, these devices can blend in eliminating the aesthetics concerns.
  • Attractive Service Offerings - Cable modems and fiber based systems are now offering up to 1Gbps connections. 5G FWA with more spectrum can easily offer similar speeds.

Will 5G Fixed Wireless finally take its place as a legitimate option for residential connectivity? The challenges are clearly understood. Systems that are being offered by vendors, along with some of the inherent advantages of operating at mmWave frequencies, are being designed with these issues in mind.  The true test for 5G FWA will be to see carriers moving into competing markets who have fiber and/or cable and begin carving out market share. There are inklings of this movement, but we are early yet in the debut of 5G. 5G done right has the potential to finally unlock the fixed wireless residential market.

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