Editor’s Corner: Fierce’s 2022 predictions for hottest topics in wireless

Linda Hardesty editor's corner

A lot of industry folks like to send around their predictions for the new year in December. But really, the most interesting events are always unpredictable — take Covid, for example. Or who would have predicted that the Federal Aviation Administration would wait until the absolute last minute to claim C-band spectrum was unsafe for aviation?

At Fierce, we’re not going to put on our Nostradamus hats. But we have already identified the hottest general topics for telecom in 2022. And we’re planning virtual events associated with them.

In the wireless realm, we’ve scheduled events related to Wi-Fi, 5G/6G, private wireless and open radio access networks (RAN).


We’ll be kicking off our FierceWireless virtual events in 2022 with a Wi-Fi Summit, starting February 7. The topic has become hot since the FCC decided to open 1,200 megahertz of 6 GHz spectrum for unlicensed use. Traditionally in the U.S., Wi-Fi has operated in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. The opening up of the 6 GHz band is coinciding with the 6th generation of the Wi-Fi standard.

One topic that undoubtedly will be important for the Wi-Fi community in 2022 is automated frequency coordination (AFC). As part of the FCC’s order to open the 6 GHz band, the agency also called for an AFC system to manage the spectrum and prevent interference.

Some groups, such as the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and the Wireless Broadband Alliance, are working on open AFC software. But there will be proprietary AFC systems as well.

RELATED: Wireless Broadband Alliance joins TIP’s work on Wi-Fi open automated frequency coordination

The FCC set a deadline of November 30 for interested parties to submit a proposal to become an AFC system operator. At least 14 companies applied, including Amdocs, Broadcom, Comsearch – a CommScope company, Federated Wireless, Google, Key Bridge Wireless, Kyrio (a subsidiary of CableLabs), Nokia, Plume, RED Technologies, Sony, Qualcomm, the Wi-Fi Alliance, and the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA).

RELATED: 6 GHz readies for new users as AFC wannabees stack up

Several of the names are familiar because they are already Spectrum Access System (SAS) administrators that handle frequency coordination among three tiers of users for the shared Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band.


When the pandemic first struck in March 2020, Fierce quickly pivoted to virtual events, and our first one was a 5G Blitz. The topic was so popular, we’ve held several more similar events, and we’ve got another one planned for March 28-31, 2022. 

One likely point of discussion will be 5G fixed wireless access (FWA).

In the U.S. both T-Mobile and Verizon have jumped on the FWA bandwagon, realizing that they can steal market share from cable companies by using extra capacity from their LTE and 5G networks.

RELATED: Fixed wireless steps into the spotlight in 2021

“A lot of our customers on home broadband are coming in suburban and even urban areas from cable, which is fascinating,” T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert said during a recent investor conference. “It’s not all just greenfield stuff where nobody has ever had an option before.”

The topic is guaranteed to become even hotter in 2022. Maybe AT&T will even announce an FWA offering.


In December 2022, we’ll be looking at the next mobile technology — 6G.

It’s a bit premature to know exactly what will be discussed a year from now. Some people say it’s a bit premature for the industry to be thinking about 6G.

RELATED: Marek’s Take: 5G is far from over, but the 6G hype is already starting

But an industry group that includes AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Facebook, Qualcomm, Charter Communications, Nokia, Ericsson, Google and Samsung has already created the Next G Alliance with the goal of advancing U.S. leadership in 6G.

Private wireless

Fierce is proud that we’re the leading publication to cover the topic of private wireless. Even before the CBRS spectrum was auctioned in mid 2020, we had already held our first Private Wireless Summit virtual event. And since then, we’ve set up a special “Private Wireless” page on our website, and we publish a monthly “Private Wireless Central” newsletter.

The whole topic has only gotten hotter. Case in point: Amazon Web Services (AWS) made a big splash at its AWS re:Invent show in November, announcing its AWS Private 5G offering.

RELATED: AWS surprises with AWS Private 5G

It seems like we’re on a path where every company of any significant size in the U.S. will eventually want a private wireless network. And the technology is also being used by municipalities to help close the digital divide.

RELATED: Cox fights municipal private wireless in Tucson

At our Private Wireless Networks Summit in May, we’ll likely talk about all the latest technologies being used to set up these networks as well as how they work in conjunction with public mobile networks and Wi-Fi networks. We’ll also discuss the competitive landscape in the world of private wireless.

Open RAN

In early September, FierceWireless will host another virtual Open RAN Summit — due to popular demand.

The initiators of Open RAN conceived the technology to crack open the telecom landscape and break the grip that Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia hold on the RAN market. And open RAN has begun to succeed in doing that.

Recently, the analysts at Dell’Oro Group raised their open RAN revenue forecast by 50%, citing strong momentum behind the technology in the first half of 2021.

The analysts previously predicted cumulative open RAN revenue from 2020 to 2025 would hit as much as $10 billion. It now believes the figure could soar as high as $15 billion, with open RAN revenues accounting for more than 10% of the overall RAN market by 2025.

RELATED: AT&T, Verizon host open RAN plugfests in 2021

The topic is scorching hot with many new vendors entering the ecosystem, and greenfield (and brownfield) operators introducing open RAN technology, or at the very least studying it closely.


No one really has a crystal ball to read the future. Will the Metaverse happen: and we won’t know when we’re living in the real world versus the virtual world? Let’s hope not.

Will my tiny investment in cryptocurrency make me a rich lady in 2022? Fingers crossed!

Will people in telecom be able to travel to in-person events again? Here’s hoping.

But in terms of hot topics in wireless, the FierceWireless team is on the job in 2022 and always on alert for the next big trend.