5G FWA set to rival wired broadband: ABI

It looks like T-Mobile and Verizon are onto something based on ABI Research’s latest report on the state of the fixed wireless access (FWA) market.

ABI Research forecasts that 5G FWA subscriptions will reach 72 million by 2027, representing 35% of the total FWA market five years from now.

The firm noted that LTE FWA services are already widely deployed worldwide, but they often can’t provide the speeds required to compete with wired broadband connections. However, 5G FWA can offer data rates rivaling fiber, making it a competitive alternative to wired broadband solutions, the research firm said.

“FWA is one of the few use cases that utilize 5G Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (mMIMO) networks to their full extent, with a typical monthly utilization that could be as high as 1 TB per subscriber. Many MNOs that have launched 5G are expected to offer FWA services, driving 5G FWA market growth,” said Fei Liu, 5G and mobile network infrastructure analyst at ABI, in a statement.

In the U.S., T-Mobile has zeroed in on dissatisfied cable customers, where more than half of its FWA customers are coming from. Combined, Verizon and T-Mobile are looking to serve 11 million to 13 million total FWA customers by 2025.  

ABI pointed out that both developed and emerging markets benefit from 5G FWA. It identified North America, Western Europe and Asia Pacific as leading 5G FWA deployments.

Liu also warned that mobile network operators need to be vigilant on how many FWA subscribers they take on and which type of service they want to offer – like best effort or quality of service (QoS). She suggested techniques such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can be used to evaluate network resources, capacity and spectrum to ensure operators can support steady FWA growth.

Elsewhere, Juniper Research predicts operators’ 5G FWA revenue will reach $24 billion globally by 2027. However, it cautions that operators must provide a compelling user proposition for FWA solutions through the bundling of services such as video streaming, gaming and smart home security in order to gain a competitive advantage over incumbent high‑speed connectivity technologies like fiber.