According to ABI Research, emerging 5G technology opens more opportunities for the fixed wireless broadband segment. As operators continue to roll out 5G networks, the commercial launch of 5G fixed wireless broadband services can be expected to accelerate in the next few years. ABI Research forecasts that shipments of 5G fixed wireless broadband customer premises equipment (CPE) will hit more than 2 million units in 2020.
5G fixed wireless access (FWA) brings several benefits to both operators and consumers. The deployment of 5G fixed wireless broadband networks in place of last-mile fiber connectivity is expected to save costs and time while providing gigabit capacity broadband access.
"Interestingly, except for China and a few other developed markets, fiber-to-the-home penetration is still limited to less than 20% of total households worldwide. This creates a huge opportunity for the whole 5G fixed wireless broadband market," said Khin Sandi Lynn, industry analyst at ABI Research.
After the initial launch in four U.S. cities in 2019, Verizon is now planning to expand its 5G Home broadband service in areas with a 5G mobile network footprint. T-Mobile is also planning to commercially roll out a 5G broadband service to home users with its nationwide 5G network launch. Vodafone, Three UK, EE in Europe, and Rain in South Africa have also rolled out 5G FWA service. Several other service providers worldwide are also working toward the commercial launch of 5G fixed wireless broadband services.
Chipsets and device makers are also active in the 5G FWA space. Qualcomm has partnered with more than 30 OEMs to develop 5G FWA CPE. At the same time, device makers such as Huawei, NetComm, Nokia, and Samsung have already introduced 5G FWA CPE. The 5G FWA CPE market is expected to increase at a CAGR of 71% to reach just under 7 million units in 2024.
Depending on the deployment scenario, 5G FWA services will need different forms of CPE, including the selection of indoor or outdoor, mmWave, or sub-6 GHz, etc. The integration of advanced WiFi features, the ability to connect to smart home devices, and in-home WiFi management solutions can also add value for end-users as well as create differentiating factors for service providers.
"5G technology offers high bandwidth and ultra-low latency to attract xDSL broadband users; however, well-designed CPE with value-added features is essential to winning the highly competitive broadband game," Lynn said.