The rollout of 5G networks across the world will see Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) become the fastest growing segment of the home broadband market over the next five years, according to ABI Research.
In lieu of a physical connection to the Internet, such as fibre or cable, FWA uses a mobile network to power a router that provides a similar experience to fixed line connectivity.
Although 4G has been used to power FWA, 5G is a significant boost to the technology because of the additional speed and capacity – enabled by high-band and long-range spectrum – that next-generation networks provide.
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The advantage of 5G FWA is that it can deliver superfast, and even ultrafast, broadband services in hard-to-reach areas and provide greater flexibility and competition in urban areas. This is especially true in the US, where several major cities are served by a single operator, and where mobile operators are offering 5G FWA using millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum.
ABI Research says 5G FWA currently accounts for less than 1% of all residential broadband subscriptions. However growing availability of 5G, coupled with increased demand for connectivity, will see the market grow by an annual rate of 71% for the next five years – commanding 58 million subscriptions or 4% of the global market.
The pandemic has seen the total number of home broadband subscriptions increase by 4% year-on-year to 1.1 billion – fuelled by the shift to online working, education, and e-commerce. In addition to new technologies like 5G FWA, providers will also invest in upgrades to fibre and cable infrastructure in order to meet demand and better compete as the market saturates.
“Increasing adoption of internet-connected devices, smart TVs, and smart home devices, as well as consumers’ media consumption through internet applications, will continue to drive high-speed broadband adoption in the years to come,” said Khin Sandi Lynn, Industry Analyst at ABI Research.
“In addition to network upgrades, broadband operators need to invest in cutting-edge software and hardware to optimize network performance and support better user experiences. Providing advanced home networking devices, internet security, and home network self-diagnosis tools can help service providers reduce churn and improve average revenue per user.”
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.