Nokia is offering new receivers and gateways to mobile operators who want to offer 5G-based Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) broadband services.
FWA broadband is expected to be the first major use case of 5G as the first compatible smartphones will not be released until 2019. The first commercial 5G service will be launched by Verizon in the US later this year, offering FWA broadband in several major cities.
It is pitched as an alternative to fixed connectivity in locations with poor fibre coverage, such as rural areas, or in cities where there is little competition.
Nokia 5G FWA
Adoption to date has been restricted by technical limitations. Although speeds of 100Mbps are higher are possible with 4G, this is difficult to achieve in practice due to the way networks are built.
Nokia says its new ‘Fast Mile’ wide gain antennas improve spectral efficiency fivefold when compared to indoor antennas, boosting speeds and consistency as well as lowering RAN costs for operators.
Automatic Beam Alignment technology can help establish the optimal connection to the cell site, while a smartphone application is made available to operator and customers to simplify installation.
Separately, a new range of gateways will also be made available, complete with high gain antennas and 4x4 multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO).
Together, Nokia says operators will be able to increase the speed of FWA rollout at a reduced cost, while at the same time improving user experience.
“When it comes to fixed broadband access, there are two things that customers typically care about: speed and reliability of the service delivered,” said Federico Guillen, president of Nokia Fixed Networks
“In the wireless world, subscribers are more apt to sacrifice speed for the flexibility to be connected anywhere. New FWA technologies like Nokia's FastMile solution bring the best of these worlds together, giving mobile operators the flexibility to use existing wireless networks to deliver fast, reliable ultra-broadband access to homes and businesses. FWA complements more traditional fixed access solutions and is an important tool in the toolkit helping operators connect more people sooner."
Despite the potential of FWA, analysts believe it will only be a niche service with the primary driver of 5G adoption being mobile broadband and the new business applications that next-generation networks will enable.
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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.