In short: 5G fixed wireless access solutions can technically serve as a viable alternative to broadband Internet services but with a lot of strings attached, a new report by Mobile Ecosystem reveals. The NetComm-commissioned paper — titled The Business Case for Fixed Wireless Access — suggests consumers expecting 5G to revolutionize their home Internet experience in addition to their mobile browsing habits probably shouldn't hold their breath for such services to become available and accessible. The authors still label 5G FWA technologies as "a significant opportunity" for carriers but no major movement on that front is expected in the short term as the industry is still largely focused on upgrading mobile networks with 5G capabilities, both in the United States and abroad.
Background: Verizon is the only major player in the country that's currently pursuing FWA, with the technology being set to become its first commercial use case of 5G. Some analysts expressed skepticism about that strategy in the past, maintaining that 5G revenues won't be truly unlocked without next-generation wireless networks. Potential FWA applications are so diverse and circumstantial that they can vary on a city and even neighborhood level, according to Mobile Ecosystem Managing Director Mark Lowenstein. The new report points to 5G FWA as a promising option for dense urban areas that lack meaningful broadband competition due to high market entry costs. In terms of suburban and lower-density urban areas, 5G FWA is primarily an option in conjunction with the 3.5GHz band, the same paper indicates. As far as rural regions are concerned, deploying 5G FWA infrastructure instead of a contemporary broadband one is only a solution if nothing resembling the latter exists in the area, experts believe.
The impact: The vast majority of the industry sees 5G as a mobile upgrade first and foremost so while the next generation of communications will also mark the first technological standard that makes wireless a viable alternative to broadband, technical challenges and many other types of obstacles stand in the way of FWA being deployed on any significant scale in the near future.