FWA a bright spot in otherwise gloomy Internet access market

Parks Associates’ newly launched Broadband Market Tracker, states that U.S. Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) adoption from a mobile network operator hit 7.8 million U.S. residential home internet connections in Q1-2024. That’s in comparison to 106.3 million U.S. households that had home internet service at the end of 2023.

Kristen Hanich, director of research at Parks Associates, told Fierce Network FWA and satellite internet are the “fastest growing” segments of the broadband market, “attracting consumers who were previously unserved or underserved by traditional providers.”  She noted for the past several years, the FWA base has grown by 700,000 to 900,000 subscribers per quarter while cable connections have declined.

Interestingly, two of the largest players in the FWA space – T-Mobile and Verizon – both reported slower growth rates in FWA net adds for the first quarter. In T-Mobile’s case though, the drop from 500,000 to 400,000 net adds per quarter was expected.

T-Mobile in Q1-2024 passed the 5 million mark for FWA subscribers and Verizon reported a total FWA tally of 3.4 million subscribers. These figures include both residential and business FWA customers.

Key FWA Findings from OpenSignal:

  • 5G FWA has reshaped the U.S. broadband market. It has allowed U.S. mobile operators to rapidly expand their broadband footprints for minimal incremental network investment. This has seen 5G FWA absorb all broadband subscriber growth in the market since mid-2022.
  • FWA is the secret sauce for 5G monetization. FWA benefits from lower prices compared to wireline competition, access to existing mobile retail channels and subscribers, and the ability to deliver a “good enough” broadband service.
  • U.S. mobile networks have proven to be resilient. Despite adding millions of 5G FWA subs since 2021, 5G speeds on T-Mobile and Verizon’s mobile networks have continued to improve. Their success in managing FWA traffic is due to a variety of factors, including plentiful access to mid-band spectrum, localized load management, and differences in peak usage time of day patterns between mobile and FBB usage.
  • Elsewhere, there are mixed results. In India, Jio is seeing no discernible impact from FWA on the mobile experience of its users, while in Saudi Arabia Zain is seeing the additional load on its network from FWA having a greater influence on mobile users’ experience, depending on the time of day or the level of FWA penetration.

“Despite adding more than eight million 5G FWA subs using 400+ GB per month of data since Q1 2021, the overall mobile network experience on T-Mobile and Verizon’s mobile networks has not been compromised,” Opensignal analyst Robert Wyrzykowski wrote in the firm’s new assessment of FWA technology.

In its new report, Opensignal found that areas in the U.S. with a larger number of FWA customers actually showed better networking performance than areas with fewer FWA customers. Meaning, Verizon and T-Mobile offered increasingly speedy connections even in geographic locations with higher concentrations of FWA users.

“We would expect low-FWA penetration areas to see better mobile and FWA performance because of less load on the network. However, our data demonstrates the opposite trend,” Wyrzykowski explained.

Other Opensignal findings:

  • Around 6% of urban Internet customers subscribe to FWA; in rural areas that figure is 7%.
  • Some 74% of FWA customers pay less than $75 per month for their services.
  • 35% of FWA customers are between 18-34 years old, whereas that age range is 25% for cable.

Opensignal’s findings provide an important view into the FWA industry in the US as its subscriber growth begins to slow. For example, T-Mobile added 405,000 FWA customers during the first quarter, far less than the 541,000 FWA customers it added during the fourth quarter of 2023.

“5G FWA services have been on a dramatic growth trajectory in the U.S., absorbing all broadband subscriber growth in the market since mid-2022 and amassing more than 600-700 thousand net adds per quarter,” wrote Opensignal’s Wyrzykowski. “This is despite the USA being a mature broadband market with nearly 97% broadband adoption and modest household growth.”


U.S. cable companies have recorded historic declines in their core Internet businesses amid the growth of FWA in the U.S.  Financial analysts at TD Cowen predict the U.S. cable industry will collectively lose more than half a million customers in the second quarter of this year. They attribute that decline to FWA competition as well as other factors including the end of the U.S. government’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).

The situation for cable might get even worse if FWA providers like T-Mobile and Verizon decide to invest further into their fixed wireless businesses.

“The pain for cable may continue for longer than expected as the ability for cable to return to broadband subscriber growth may take longer (if ever),” wrote the TD Cowen analysts in a recent note to investors.

Others agree. For example, the analysts at S&P Global wrote that cable service providers in general have been losing value to wireless network operators despite cable’s efforts to bundle mobile services into cable offerings.


Parks’ Hanich said fiber optic access technology is on an upswing and Parks is seeing “excellent growth in the markets where it is available and high customer satisfaction with the customers who have it.”

“But the numbers are not quite as dramatic as what’s been going on with T-Mobile, Verizon and Starlink,” she said, noting the “growing convergence” of satellite and mobile networks is something else to keep an eye on.

Asked whether the demise of the Affordable Connectivity Program has had any impact on Parks’ findings, Hanich said, “we are concerned that the end of the program will result in households and families needing to disconnect from the internet for financial reasons.”

“For a good percentage of Americans, household budgets have been hit by rising inflation and lower-income families especially are having to cut back,” she said. “Thankfully we are seeing ISPs step up, try and transition people onto other plans and initiatives.”


Separately, Parks found adoption of mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) services reached over 15 million residential customer mobile lines in the quarter. In an MVNO model, broadband operators lease spectrum capacity from a wireless network to stand up their own mobile offering.

NTIA published some findings from its latest Internet Use Survey. Unsurprisingly, internet usage in the U.S. has gone up, with 13 million more people using the internet in 2023 compared to 2021.  However, a lot of that usage is coming from lower-income households. Specifically, internet adoption among households making less than $25,000 per year increased from 69% in 2021 to 73% in 2023.






Fiber and Fixed Wireless Access are the fastest growing fixed broadband technologies in the OECD

Summary of Verizon Consumer, FWA & Business Segment 1Q-2024 results

Verizon’s 2023 broadband net additions led by FWA at 375K

AT&T’s fiber business grows along with FWA “Internet Air” in Q4-2023

Ericsson: Over 300 million Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) connections by 2028




One thought on “FWA a bright spot in otherwise gloomy Internet access market

  1. ABI Research expects 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) CPE shipments to increase from 10.7 million in 2023 to 36.8 million by 2029 with a CAGR of 22.9 per cent, due in part to increased uptake by businesses.

    Larbi Belkhi, an industry analyst at ABI Research, highlighted the US market as a success story for 5G FWA with Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile US on track to hit their targets for connections.

    He stated those connections are “achieved by serving customers with a multi-vendor portfolio of CPEs for their varying requirements.”


    The company also noted enterprise FWA announcements have gained traction in 2024, especially in the US market where operators are diversifying their offerings.

    ABI cited AT&T adding Askey and Cisco 5G FWA gear to its enterprise offerings as proof of the uptake this year while T-Mobile picked a Cradlepoint 5G router for its business customers.

    Belkhi stated the business sector, particularly small-to-medium sized business (SMBs), “is a fast-growing opportunity for FWA, especially in the US”.

    “The faster deployment and scalability it offers makes it particularly attractive for SMBs, but they have more nuanced requirements than simply just performance and price, so CPE vendors diversifying offerings to serve this market is key to success,” he explained.

    Globally, ABI Research forecast 5G FWA subscriptions to hit 118 million by 2029, around 45 per cent of total users at that point.


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