Nokia research identifies FWA as big opportunity for 5G

5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) is the top-ranked 5G use case among consumers globally—as long as it performs as well as current broadband services, according to new research released by Nokia.

The research, conducted with Parks Associates, shows that 76% of respondents regard FWA as the most appealing use case overall, with 66% saying they would subscribe to 5G FWA if the cost was the same as their current broadband service and it delivered the same or better quality.

The research included respondents from the U.S., the U.K. and South Korea and was focused on both consumer and enterprise segments. The consumer-focused study included surveys of 3,000 people while the enterprise study included more than 1,000 IT decision-makers.

“We sought to get a temperature check with those audiences as to how they’re looking at 5G, what’s their level of awareness, things around willingness to pay, the types of applications or use cases they’re looking at,” said Josh Aroner, vice president of marketing for Nokia’s service provider business.

RELATED: Verizon CEO: COVID-19 crisis reinforces FWA strategy

FWA also is the top use case for small and medium-sized business, 73% of whom show a strong interest in FWA if cost and performance can match their existing wired broadband service. On the consumer side, it was somewhat surprising that FWA was so attractive.

“I thought it would be attractive, but it was a level higher than I anticipated. Particularly sitting in the focus groups, it really resonated with the people we were talking to,” said Patty Wong, director of market insights for Nokia's service provider business. “They really wanted that alternative” to existing broadband providers, such as cable.

They also heard a lot of people say their building or their apartment only offered one provider even when there were other service providers in the market. “Fixed wireless access would actually open the door for them,” she said.

The research concluded just before everyone went into lock-down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it showed video as the “killer app” for 5G across verticals and different business sizes, with 90% rating high-quality, uninterrupted video streams a “very valuable” aspect of 5G. Had the research been done after the pandemic hit, one can only assume that number would be even higher.

Across verticals and enterprises of different sizes, 83% said they found video compelling and 48% of enterprises see video monitoring as a near-term opportunity.

Some 61% of enterprise respondents said they would look to mobile operators for direction in planning 5G services. Energy and manufacturing firms show the highest awareness of 5G and are exploring its potential for advanced WAN/LAN use cases, including infrastructure maintenance, remote machine control and cloud robotics.

Here are some other findings:

  • Nearly half of those who work remotely indicated a strong willingness to switch providers for 5G service and are more likely to want to buy a 5G phone.  
  • Nearly two-thirds of early 5G users are highly satisfied with the speeds they experience on 5G networks, compared with less than half of 4G users.
  • 45% of consumers find connected car concepts appealing with navigation and safety capabilities most valuable, but this jumps to 73% among vehicle owners; 53% of vehicle owners said they’d be interested in bundling car connectivity with a 5G data plan.