The Future of Fixed Wireless: A Five Year Look Ahead to How Fixed Wireless Will Help Shape the Future of Internet Connectivity

 

High-speed internet connectivity has become indispensable to the existence of human society. Whether you’re communicating with customers, managing field sales reps, or onboarding new employees, a stable internet connection is essential. 

It’s critical to choose the right internet connectivity technology based on a business’s requirements.

While many broadband internet options are available in the market, fixed wireless internet has been rising to the forefront. In this blog, we’ll delve deeper into the future of fixed wireless and understand whether it’ll live up to the hype. 

 

What Is Fixed Wireless Internet?

Fixed wireless technology uses radio waves transmitted from a base station to provide internet connectivity. 

A receiver (antenna) is installed outside a client’s building/premises and connected to a router through a cable. It receives internet signals from the wireless base station and further transmits them to the router.

For end-users, connecting to fixed wireless internet is the same as linking a device to a WiFi router.

Fixed wireless speed is comparable to that of cable and fiber optic internet. But what sets it apart from other technologies is the ease of deployment.

 

Common Concerns About Fixed Wireless

While fixed wireless internet offers several benefits, it’s associated with several misconceptions

The most common concerns are around its:

  • Reliability
  • Scalability
  • Security

Some businesses worry that bad weather will interfere with the performance of fixed wireless internet. It’s worth noting that while adverse weather has the potential to slow down fixed wireless internet, that’s rarely the case with a good provider. Reputable fixed wireless providers use carrier-grade equipment and advanced technology to counter interference caused by rain, fog, hail, snow, etc. 

That makes fixed wireless one of the most reliable internet connectivity technologies on the market. Other options, including cable and fiber, are more likely to falter during extreme weather events and natural disasters.

Also, fixed wireless internet offers the same level of security as other broadband connections. The simplicity and lower cost of implementation make it easy to add new users or increase speeds as well.

 

Benefits of Fixed Wireless

Apart from lightning-fast internet speeds (ranging from 3 to 1,000+ Mbps), fixed wireless boasts high bandwidth and low latency. It’s also more reliable and stable than DSL or cable broadband.

One of the biggest benefits of fixed wireless is its ease of implementation. It doesn’t require service providers to lay down underground phone lines or cables, nor does it require them to create extensive infrastructure for lighting fiber optic cables. That makes it possible for ISPs to provide internet connectivity to hard-to-reach locations, as well as rural and suburban areas at a much faster rate than fiber.

 

Who Uses Fixed Wireless?

Fixed wireless internet is suitable for both residential and commercial use. It’s particularly useful for businesses and consumers in rural areas. It can help bridge the digital divide that limits people in these locations from accessing information and utilities in a few simple clicks.

 

Future Scope of Fixed Wireless Internet

There’s been plenty of speculation about how long fixed wireless technology will survive, and whether it can overtake broadband services. The good news is that the fixed wireless access (FWA) market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 73.4%1 between 2021 and 2026. 

Across the globe, service providers have also realized the benefits of fixed wireless offers. That’s the reason FWA net adds have increased 158%2 since the first quarter of 2020. 

It comes at a time when users are already frustrated with low bandwidth, limited data caps, and sluggish speeds of cable broadband. Then there’s the problem of asymmetrical internet connections with dwindling uplink speeds. While fiber internet overcomes many of these drawbacks, it’s expensive in the long run.

That means both businesses and households alike will gravitate towards fixed wireless in the near future. If you’re wondering whether fixed wireless will stand the test of time, the numbers are in its favor. It isn’t surprising considering the advantages fixed wireless offers over other internet connectivity options. 

 

Why Fixed Wireless Is Poised to Achieve Sustained Growth

The outstanding benefits of fixed wireless internet aren’t the only factors contributing to its growth. Here are a few other reasons fixed wireless is expected to attract more users and service providers:

 

Rise of 5G

Fixed wireless internet speeds are already higher than those of other broadband connections. With direct internet access (DIA), it can offer even faster speeds of up to 20 Gbps.

But it’s the advent of 5G technology that creates new possibilities for fixed wireless internet. The 5G spectrum makes it possible for fixed wireless internet providers to offer sky-high speeds at reasonable costs.

Initial rollouts of fixed wireless 5G networks have already demonstrated average speeds between 500 and 600 Mbps. With advancements in 5G technology, users can expect speeds between 1.1 and 1.2 Gbps to become the norm.

 

Increased Adoption of Remote Work

The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled businesses to embrace a hybrid workforce. Employees with the ability to work remotely may opt to move to smaller towns – or even rural areas and other hard-to-connect locations.

This escalates the demand for high-speed, reliable, and cost-effective internet connectivity in remote areas, and traditional broadband connectivity options won’t make the cut. That’s where wireless internet service providers (WISPs) can step into the picture with fixed wireless. As the adoption of remote work grows, so will the demand for fixed wireless.

 

Public Awareness About the Digital Divide

While the digital divide between rural and urban areas isn’t a secret, the pandemic has brought it into the limelight. The FCC estimates that 6.5% of the U.S. population3 (more than 21 million Americans) don’t have access to the internet.

A study by BroadbandNow reveals that the FCC data is conservative at best. The findings indicate that nearly 42 million Americans4 don’t have a broadband connection. Worse still, more than 83 million U.S. consumers5 lack the freedom to choose from different broadband providers. 

The good news is that the digital divide has finally caught the attention of policymakers. That means they’re going to actively invest in providing equal internet access to consumers irrespective of their locations. This, in turn, puts the odds in favor of fixed wireless.

 

Why Will Users Choose Fixed Wireless Over Other Broadband Services?

Apart from the lightning-fast speeds and low latency, fixed wireless addresses several pain points users face with DSL, cable, and fiber internet.

It’s cumbersome and expensive to deploy these technologies in remote areas, and it doesn’t make sense for service providers to install cable or fiber infrastructure in a location with very few customers. Even if they decide to build the infrastructure, it’ll be time-consuming and expensive.

The demand for high-speed internet won’t be restricted to cities. Students and workers living in small towns and rural areas will also want access to a reliable broadband connection. Considering the drawbacks of other internet technologies in these areas, fixed wireless is the most suitable option. Widespread implementation of 5G technology will further boost fixed wireless speeds and encourage users to choose it over cable or fiber optic internet.

 

Challenges in Fixed Wireless Implementation

With the advent of 5G technology, fixed wireless providers are likely to use the ultra-high frequency mmWave spectrum (above 20 GHz). While these high-frequency signals boast excellent speeds, they have low penetration power. 

This, in turn, deals a blow to fixed wireless availability, particularly when a user is indoors. The problem could be further exacerbated by building materials that block radio signals. For instance, low emissivity glass, used to block thermal radiation, can degrade signal quality.

Service providers can use a technique called beamforming to work their way around the challenges of the mmWave spectrum. It involves the use of specialized antennas that turn radio signals into a razor-sharp beam. Similarly, installing robust outdoor routers will help overcome the challenges posed by building materials.

Fixed wireless experts have the ability to offer alternative solutions where users can see similar speed and performance – without the limitations of 5G mmWave issues.

 

The Future of Fixed Wireless Shines Bright

To say that fixed wireless internet will grow in the next five years would be an understatement. As remote work becomes the new standard, more businesses and consumers will choose fixed wireless in favor of other broadband technologies. The integration of 5G and fixed wireless will also help bridge the digital divide.

It is, however, crucial for service providers to overcome the technical challenges of implementing fixed wireless. That’s where the use of sophisticated antennas and routers will come in handy.

Want to get a fixed wireless connection for your business? Contact BeyondReach today to get started.


Sources:

  1. https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/fixed-wireless-access-market
  2. https://www.ericsson.com/en/blog/2020/9/fwa-could-be-the-best-growth-opportunity-in-telecoms-right-now
  3. https://www.fcc.gov/reports-research/reports/broadband-progress-reports/2019-broadband-deployment-report
  4. ​​https://broadbandnow.com/research/fcc-underestimates-unserved-by-50-percent
  5. https://ilsr.org/report-most-americans-have-no-real-choice-in-internet-providers/