Unlocking Greater Potential: Exploring the Advantages of Fixed Wireless Access for Broadband

By Vinay Mahendra, Director of Engineering, Networks Business, Samsung Electronics America

The digital divide - the chasm between those with access to high-speed internet and those without - is a major factor that limits productivity potential across this nation. Students may be restricted in access to connectivity needed for remote education, small businesses may not be able to open in parts of the country lacking broadband, and workers may need to think twice before accepting remote jobs due to inadequate connectivity. Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) is a necessary, viable and cost-effective method to address the digital divide, delivering high-speed broadband to consumers and businesses in rural, suburban and at times even urban areas.

Though FWA is not a brand new technology and can operate using either 4G or 5G, improvements in spectral efficiency and the growth of 5G in recent years have propelled the number of FWA deployments to new heights. According to the GSMA, 535 operators in 186 countries offer FWA on 4G or 5G with connections forecast to grow by roughly 90% per year through 2027. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 8.5 million households were using FWA at the end of 2022. Further, U.S. federal agencies see FWA as such a viable broadband technology that they have granted it eligibility for federal funding programs such as BEAD and RDOF.

Unmatched adaptability: FWA for mobile businesses and the home

It seems as though the traffic patterns of businesses and even households are changing more rapidly now than ever. From mobile businesses like food trucks without a fixed address to the quick drop in data needs when a family sends their teen to college, a variety of factors demand adaptability and agility in one’s network. A few primary reasons why FWA is widely becoming a popular solution to deliver high-speed broadband services are:

  • FWA offers an alternative for the 'last mile' to homes that cannot use fiber, satellite or cable, due to geographical restrictions or operational reasons. This allows operators to reach remote areas they may not have otherwise had access to.
  • The growth of mobile businesses, such as food trucks and pop-up shops, has introduced a new mobile broadband market. With benefits like larger coverage ranges and more reliable connectivity, FWA is a prime solution for on-the-go companies.
  • There is consistent change in traffic demand from consumers, such as the decrease in data usage when kids head off to college or the increase when families shift to work-from-home roles. FWA’s scalability allows it to meet changing data traffic needs dynamically.
  • The customer premise equipment used to access FWA networks can be easily self-installed by the business owners or the residential subscribers themselves. This approach allows the subscriber seamless and easier access to the network.

Future-proofing connectivity: evolving technologies to meet subscriber & operator needs

There is a continuous rise in demand for fast and stable connections as internet users everywhere have come to expect ultra-fast networks. For those living in rural or suburban areas, these ultra-fast connections may still seem to be far off on the horizon. However, FWA boasts several strong attributes for efficient broadband delivery as well as deployment of strong, reliable networks:

  • There is no need to dig trenches or provide time-consuming fiber drops to every home and business with FWA; service providers can deploy and get users operational in a fraction of the time fiber requires, reducing the time to market.
  • Fixed Wireless Access can be delivered over low, mid and high frequencies, allowing service providers to craft the best blend of bands for their customers.
  • FWA uses 4G and 5G with the same robust 3GPP security standards as public wireless networks.
  • There is a large and growing range of options for customer premise equipment that supports FWA.
  • FWA is less expensive to deploy than fiber. The GMSA performed stringent testing comparing FWA to Fiber to the Home (FTTH) in multiple regions with high and high/mid bands. For greenfield communities, in rural areas, GSMA found cost savings of 65-80%, while in suburban areas, mmWave (high band) showed savings of 45-70% over fiber. In urban areas, if there are existing poles or ducts for fiber, the cost savings would still be up to 10% in Europe and 20% in Latin America compared to FTTH.

Samsung leads the way for FWA

Samsung has long been a major proponent of FWA, providing the market's first end-to-end 5G FWA commercial solution in 2018 and a 5G-ready CBRS Massive MIMO solution to support FWA solutions in rural and suburban markets in 2019.

Samsung has been working with various industry leaders to improve 5G throughputs for FWA by using Carrier Aggregation to combine different mid-band and low-band carriers. Recently, Samsung has demonstrated UL Throughputs of 363 Mbps by combining bands in 1.9GHz and 3.7GHz.

In addition to Carrier Aggregation, Samsung has also been working on 5G multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) technology. A report from industry analyst firm Signals Research Group (SRG) explored the benefits of 5G Massive MIMO on a network in Memphis, TN powered by Samsung RAN. SRG found that the Samsung Massive MIMO C-Band deployment has the capability to support 16 downlink MU-MIMO layers, as well as 8 uplink MU-MIMO layers, a significant differentiator compared to competitor offerings. Commercial MU-MIMO support is critical for operators as they work to boost 5G capacity and optimize network performance for use cases like FWA. With MU-MIMO technology, 5G networks can handle increasing data traffic and devices, which is essential in a high-usage FWA environment.


FWA represents a crucial step in closing the connectivity gap and empowering individuals, businesses and communities with the high-speed broadband needed to thrive in today's digital world. FWA will continue to be a catalyst for progress, empowering societies with the tools they need to succeed. By leveraging the strengths of FWA and embracing ongoing technological advancements, the remaining connectivity gaps can be bridged to create a genuinely inclusive and connected world.

The editorial staff had no role in this post's creation.