Vlaio has agreed to support a trial of fixed-wireless internet access (FWA) in the 60 GHz band using semiconductor start-up Pharrowtech’s mmWave technology. Belgian cable operator Telenet and wireless equipment supplier Unitron are also participating, with the trial services expected to start for homes and businesses in 2022.
The trial will focus on validating the performance of Pharrowtech’s mmWave technology, to help the company move towards commercialization of its products. Pharrowtech said its CMOS process technology makes mmWave services in the 60 GHz band a cost-effective, high-performance alternative to fibre roll-outs. The technology is reliable and robust enough to cope with the outdoors environment, while delivering superior performance compared to alternatives in the market, in urbran or rural areas, the company said.
The Vlaio grant will be used to support preparation and execution of the Telenet field trial of Pharrowtech’s mmWave RFIC technology using Unitron’s network elements. Beamforming and mesh control software developed by labs at the Flemish research institute Imec will also be used in the trial.
Telenet, which is controlled by the Liberty Global group, said it has multiple use cases in mind where FWA could bring benefits such as reducing installation and roll-out costs. The operator last year started exploring a cooperation on FTTH roll-out in Flanders, but has yet to commit to a technology for its next network upgrade after Docsis 3.1. In the US, operators such as Mediacom and Alaska Communications are already exploring FWA services.
Pharrowtech was founded in 2018 as a spin-off from Imec, where the founding team led CMOS IP generation and prototype development in mmWave wireless systems for more than fifteen years. In 2019, the company secured more than EUR 6 million in seed funding from imec-Xpand, Bloc Ventures and the KBC Focus Fund, and in June this year the company released its first evaluation board.
Pharrowtech CEO and Co-Founder, Wim van Thillo, said: “We are extremely pleased that VLAIO is supporting us to roll out our technology with these leading partners. This field trial perfectly represents the massive business opportunity that mmWave FWA offers. Even in areas as densely populated as Belgium, operators struggle to deploy gigabit internet services fast enough. This project will establish our technology as a key complement to fiber for fast and economical high-speed internet deployments everywhere.”
Unitron CTO, Stephen Deleu, said: “With this VLAIO project, UnitronGroup will expand its knowledge in the higher frequency ranges and discover new wireless applications for ultrafast broadband communication. UnitronGroup is the market leader in multiple high frequency technologies, and collaborating with knowledge partners helps us strengthen our position. As a key technology partner for multiple telecom operators, our role in this ambitious project is to provide the FWA customer and distribution node elements. We are excited to be part of this consortium and looking forward to the insights and outcomes of this VLAIO project.”
Telenet, Director Network & Infrastructure, Luk Bruynseels, said: “For Telenet it is paramount to keep on investing in innovative ways to deliver digital services to our customers. We have multiple use cases in scope where FWA technology brings opportunities and important benefits by reducing installation and roll-out costs. This VLAIO project is a great opportunity for Telenet to gather and share all required knowledge and expertise within the consortium to ensure we meet the expected outcome of the project.”
by Jeff Heynen, Dell’Oro Group
The global demand for broadband service has resulted in an acceleration of interest among fixed and mobile operators alike to either expand their existing LTE or point-to-multipoint fixed wireless access (FWA) offerings or roll out early 5G FWA services to a growing base of current and potential subscribers. In both mature and emerging markets, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of RFPs for equipment and software to support large-scale 5G fixed wireless service deployments. Clearly, service providers are looking to strike while the iron is hot, securing subscribers who need broadband now, while also taking advantage of growing government subsidization of broadband service rollouts.
The vendor ecosystem supporting 5G fixed wireless has naturally increased, particularly in the area of dedicated CPE. According to the GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association), there are currently over 130 FWA CPE devices (both indoor and outdoor) that have been announced by a growing list of vendors, which now numbers above 50. Over 50 of these dedicated CPE are now commercially available, which is up from 15 commercially-available units just one year ago. By the end of 2021, we expect that the number of commercially-available devices will exceed 100 and will double in 2022. The number of vendors producing or planning to produce 5G FWA CPE already exceeds the number of suppliers of 4G FWA CPE.
The increase in available units, which corresponds with the perceived addressable market of 5G network deployments and subscriber uptake, combined with the rapid uptake of 5G-capable smartphones will help to push the cost of both indoor and outdoor 5G FWA units down to levels that satisfy the business case requirements of operators globally. In particular, operators in emerging markets where ARPU levels are typically low, cost-reduced CPE are an absolutely critical requirement to ensuring a faster ROI.
The larger the addressable market, the more willing component suppliers will be to forward-price to capture a larger share of that growing market. The resulting price reductions in components begets wider availability of finished CPE. It becomes an iterative cycle that benefits the entire supply chain and the network operators as end purchasers.
Quick Ramp of 5G FWA Devices Expected:
At the end of 2020, we estimate that there are nearly 60M fixed wireless subscribers globally. A large percentage of these subscribers use 4G LTE networks, though there are also subscribers using 3G networks, proprietary point-to-multipoint services, as well as some using early 5G technologies, including sub-6Ghz and millimeter wave. We estimate that the 5G subscribers are around 1 million currently. However, we expect that those subscriber numbers are set to double in 2021, as operators such as T-Mobile (USA), AT&T, Verizon, Bell Canada, Saudi Telecom, Rain (South Africa), Swisscom, Deutsche Telekom, Optus, and others introduce or expand 5G FWA services this year.
With those operator commitments already in place, we estimate that the total number of 5G FWA devices shipping to operators this year will easily exceed 3 million units and could push 4 million units. The vast majority of these units will be to support sub-6Ghz service offerings, though we also expect to see millimeter wave units, as some operators use a combination of those technologies to provide both extensive coverage and fiber-like speeds in areas where the competition from fixed broadband providers is more intense. Overall, however, we expect volumes first from sub-6GHz units this year and into next year, followed by increasing volumes of millimeter wave units beginning in the latter part of 2022 and into 2023.
We also anticipate that the vast majority of 5G FWA deployments will rely on indoor gateways that combine a 5G modem with a WiFi 6 access point for signal distribution within the home. Many of these gateways will also be mesh-capable and will be paired with satellite units to blanket homes with WiFi coverage and to eliminate dead spots within the home.
There will be situations where outdoor units will be required, particularly in the case of millimeter wave deployments which require line of sight because of the high-frequency ranges being used. But even in the case of sub-6Ghz 5G FWA deployments, outdoor units will be required when homes or apartments have very thick-paned windows or are located in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings.
With this growing clarity around deployment models and device types, we expect that the costs of 5G FWA CPE will decline throughout this year and next, providing a catalyst for much larger, global deployments of the service through 2022 and beyond. We believe that the average cost for an indoor 5G FWA CPE will decline from around $475 in 2020 to around $180 by the end of 2023 (Figure 2).
5G chipsets will see the biggest price declines, helped in large part by increasing volumes of 5G smartphones, but also by a growing ecosystem of 5G modems, gateways, tablets, cars, and other products reliant on 5G networks for WAN connectivity. Currently, 5G SoCs are roughly 4x the cost of 4G SoCs. But we have seen this played out before in the early stages of 4G network and device rollouts when the cost of chips dropped quickly as device volumes increased.
Similarly, the cost of WiFi 6 chips remains about 15-20% higher than WiFi 5 units. While WiFi 6 will be the primary technology for mature, highly competitive markets, WiFi 5 will remain an important option for very price-sensitive markets, particularly those in developing countries and in rural markets where competition comes from lower-cost services. But as enterprise and higher-end residential gateways are built with WiFi 6 technology, the cost of those chips will decline significantly over the next couple of years.
Beyond these two major components, manufacturing costs will also decline as equipment and contract manufacturers increase volumes based on initial board and hardware designs. FWA gateway designs, like higher-end residential WiFi access point designs, are well-understood at this point. However, with any new product spin, there is a learning curve for the manufacturers. Though the cost of producing the first few thousand units is high, the costs quickly decrease as the manufacturing process becomes clearly defined and as new iterations of the devices incorporate lower-cost components.
There are two critical components for the steady reduction in cost for 5G FWA CPE: Increased orders and volumes from service providers, along with the cooperation among providers of 4G CPE devices and 5G units to understand how to bring down the costs as quickly as possible. This cooperation will be necessary to stimulate interest among service providers, who can then drive the volumes necessary to improve the overall economics of delivering 5G fixed wireless services.
5G FWA Will Build on 4G Deployments:
Though the deployment of FWA services using 4G LTE networks has been moderately successful around the world, 5G will dramatically boost the addressable market of subscribers, as well as the service’s ability to reasonably compete with most fixed broadband technologies. 5G can comfortably deliver downstream speeds that compare favorably with VDSL and DOCSIS 3.0 services while easily beating previous generations of both fixed technologies. More importantly, C-band and millimeter wave technologies promise to be comparable with DOCSIS 3.1 and fiber services, thereby expanding the addressable market of subscribers even further.
Mobile operators around the world who have previously been unable to compete with fixed broadband providers, as well as fixed broadband providers looking to expand the reach of their services more quickly, are all enthusiastic about the opportunity in front of them with FWA. Their growing commitment to the service, as well as a rapidly expanding vendor ecosystem for customer devices, will help to quickly reduce the cost of those devices, thereby ensuring a faster ROI for service providers and a willingness to expand their reach even further.
ABI Research and Mobile Experts forecast that 5G FWA connections will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 71% and “over 70%,” respectively.
Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) will be among the most valuable use cases for LTE and 5G network operators, according to two new reports that predict compound annual growth rates in excess of 70%.
- ABI Research expects global 5G fixed wireless access to exceed 58 million residential subscribers by 2026.
- Mobile Experts predicts 5G fixed wireless access to serve 66.5 million customers by 2026.
FWA is a decades-old technology (that’s how WiMAX was deployed), but its prominence and rate of growth grew substantially during the last year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced billions of people worldwide to stay home (“shelter in place”).
Image Credit: Upward Broadband
Remote working, online learning, e-commerce, and virtual healthcare drove high-speed broadband demand throughout 2020. The significant increase in the use of internet-based home entertainment such as video streaming and online gaming also pushed existing broadband users to upgrade their broadband service to a higher-tier package, while households without broadband access signed up for new subscriptions.
“Increasing adoption of internet-connected devices, smart TVs, and smart home devices, as well as consumers’ media consumption through internet applications, will continue to drive high-speed broadband adoption in the years to come. In addition, many businesses are allowing remote working for some of their employees after the pandemic, which will boost the need for home broadband services even further,” explains Khin Sandi Lynn, Industry Analyst at ABI Research.
FWA will be the fastest-growing residential broadband segment, forecast to increase at a CAGR of 71%, exceeding 58 million subscribers in 2026.
As residential broadband penetration saturates mature markets, competition among broadband operators is likely to create challenges to maintain market shares. “In addition to network upgrades, broadband operators need to invest in cutting-edge software and hardware to optimize network performance and support better user experiences. Providing advanced home networking devices, internet security, and home network self-diagnosis tools can help service providers reduce churn and improve average revenue per user,” Lynn concluded.
Mobile Experts forecasts the number of global fixed wireless access connections will more than double to 190 million by 2026. FWA services grew almost 20% yearly to over 80 million in 2020—Mobile Experts sees that number rocketing to almost 200 million by 2026. Around 8-11% of FWA connections over the next five years will be served via proprietary technology primarily deployed by small operators.
FWA equipment sales, including IEEE 802.11 based proprietary, LTE, and 5G CPE revenue, are projected to grow from $4.0 billion this year to over $5.5 billion in 2026. Meanwhile, the proprietary equipment market, including both access point and CPE sales, is expected to stay elevated around $880–$940 million per annum over the next five years.
“Large mobile operators will leverage LTE and 5G for FWA services, and we expect the 5G mm-wave will become a key aspect of their long-term FWA plans—especially in ‘fiber-rich’ markets in the APAC region. That said, large and small operators will benefit from government funding to help build out hybrid fiber plus FWA networks for the next 5-10 years,” said Principal Analyst Kyung Mun.
This report includes 41 charts and diagrams, including a five-year forecast illustrating the growth of the market for infrastructure and customer premise equipment and fixed wireless access connections by technology. Key details such as technical breakdowns, equipment revenue, and market shares are included.
Verizon Business plans to expand its 5G Business Internet fixed-wireless connectivity offering to 21 new U.S. cities this month. The service uses Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband technology as its connectivity backbone. Offerings include 100, 200, and 400 Mbps plans serving large companies and SMEs, with no data limits. Verizon said it will also give a 10 year price lock for new customers, no long-term contract required.
- Verizon 5G Business Internet is now available for businesses of all sizes in 24 U.S. cities.
- The fixed-wireless offering is an alternative to cable, with multiple pricing and service options and no data limits.
- Verizon offers a price lock for 10 years, no long-term contract required, and professional installation included.
- According to the Verizon 5G Business Report, business decision-makers largely agree that 5G will create new opportunities for their company (80%), their industry (79%), and their role (79%).
“As 5G Business Internet scales into new cities, businesses of all sizes can gain access to the superfast speeds, low latency and next-gen applications enabled by 5G Ultra Wideband, with no throttling or data limits,” said Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon Business. “We’ll continue to expand the 5G Business Internet footprint and bring the competitive pricing, capability, and flexibility of our full suite of products and services to more and more businesses all over the country.”
The service launched on April 15th in parts of Anaheim, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City (Missouri), Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, St Louis, and St. Paul. Parts of Riverside-Corona (California) will become available on 22 April. The service previously launched in parts of Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles. Additional cities will be announced on a rolling basis.
Additional information about this offer and 5G Business Internet pricing, availability, service and more is available here. In addition, where 5G Business Internet is not yet available, Verizon offers LTE Business Internet to keep Verizon customers covered.
The launch comes at a time when business decision-makers are coming face to face with the transformational potential of 5G. According to a recent Verizon Business survey conducted in partnership with Morning Consult, seven in 10 decision-makers (69%) believe 5G will help their company overcome the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly half (48%) said their companies have already provided or are planning to provide a 5G-capable smartphone or device to employees within the next six months, and approximately eight in 10 agree that 5G will create new opportunities for their company (80%), their industry (79%), and their role (79%).
Italian network operator Fastweb plans to activate 5G in an initial four cities before the end of the year (it is the fifth mobile operator in Italy).
Separately, Fastweb will increase the top speed of its existing FTTH service to 2.5 Gbps in the coming months. The company already leads Italy’s fixed gigabit market with a 36.5 percent share of FTTH subscribers having download speeds of 1 Gbps speeds. It now intends to upgrade its proprietary network in 30 large cities so that it can hike top speeds from 1 Gbps to 2.5 Gbps at no additional cost in around 4 million homes, covering 15 percent of Italy’s population, starting in February 2021.
These two announcements follow the launch of Fastweb’s ‘UltraFWA’ service in partnership with Linkem to offer speeds of 1Mbps in 3 localities in the south of the country. Linkem said the 5G FWA service is now available in Modugno, Grottaglie and Avellino. Those are the first 3 of the 50 localities the network operator aims to connect by the end of this year, rising to 500 by the end of next year. part of a commitment to bridge the digital divide in “historically disadvantaged” areas of southern Italy.
Fastweb said it will continue to bridge the digital divide in small and medium-sized Italian towns with its new 5G FWA (Fixed Wireless Access) service. ‘UltraFWA’ will offer speeds of up to 1Gbps in a total of 50 localities by the end of this year, rising to 500 by the end of next year and around 2,000 by 2024 for a total coverage of 8 million homes in ‘grey’ areas and 4 million in ‘white’ areas.
The increased performance and coverage are part of Fastweb’s new multi-year commitment to citizens, institutions and companies called ‘NeXXt Generation 2025’. The plan to connect millions of families throughout the country is based on the three pillars of technological leadership, transparency and social responsibility, with the operator also confirming plans to activate its 5G service in an initial four cities on 27 December. Fastweb 5G will switch on in Milan, Bologna, Rome and Naples and then gradually extend to other cities to reach 90 percent of the population by 2025.
The company added that it will be the only operator to make 5G technology available to both new and existing customers at no additional cost and with no constraints whatsoever. Fastweb last year signed an ambitious decade-long network sharing deal with WindTre to jointly roll out 5G infrastructure on a national scale, having previously acquired a 200MHz frequency block in the 26 GHz band in Italy’s 5G spectrum auction in October 2018, swiftly followed by 40 MHz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band from Tiscali.
The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) today announced the establishment of the GSA 4G-5G Fixed Wireless Access Forum to bring together leading chipset, module, and terminal vendors – as well as other telecommunications industry representatives, who wish to promote 4G and 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) technology, products and services – to report on progress of FWA deployments, identify use cases and encourage global adoption.
The GSA 4G-5G FWA Forum will build on the work done by the recently formed GSA Fixed Wireless Access Working Group to coordinate industry initiatives to deliver fixed wireless broadband services based on LTE and 5G access networks. The founding members of the FWA Working Group are Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, Samsung and ZTE. Membership to GSA Working Groups is open to all GSA Executive and Ordinary Members.
Underpinning the work of the new GSA 4G-5G FWA Forum is GSA’s research and role as the voice of the mobile ecosystem. GSA publishes regular industry reports and market data determine the extent and nature of fixed wireless access broadband service availability based on LTE or 5G around the world. As part of its industry advocacy,
GSA’s research team will share its latest global fixed wireless access update in its next GSA Snapshot Webinar on 24 November (16:00 GMT). Details on how to register for and attend the free webinar are available here https://gsacom.com/webinar-fixed-wireless-access/
Joe Barrett, President, Global mobile Suppliers Association, commented: “In a relatively short space of time, fixed wireless broadband access has become a mainstream service. Today we see hundreds of operators selling LTE-based fixed wireless access services around the world, and dozens more already live with 5G FWA services for home or business broadband. In addition, fixed wireless access device vendors have grown to over 100 globally and against this backdrop of real and significant market demand, the onus is on the FWA community to work together to drive business success.
“GSA has an unrivalled track record and experience in bringing together vendors, regulators and operators from across the 4G and 5G ecosystems and the formation of the new GSA 4G-5G FWA Forum will bring this experience to Fixed Wireless Access to help accelerate its development globally,” Barrett continued.
The scope of the new GSA 4G-5G FWA Forum includes:
· Sharing trends in the industry, identifying directions in technical development, accumulating and promoting successful experiences
· Improving the 4G and 5G FWA technologies required to provide wireless broadband connection solutions with increased performance and cost-effectiveness
· Fostering collaboration among FWA suppliers to improve the industry’s ecosystem and ensure business success
· Promoting the success of the FWA industry to accelerate the provisioning of broadband access to anyone, anywhere
The new GSA 4G-5G FWA Forum and Fixed Wireless Access Working Group is a key pillar of GSA’s growing industry advocacy; this work also includes the GSA Spectrum Group, the largest single spectrum advocacy team in the mobile industry representing the vendor ecosystem in 4G and 5G spectrum discussions with governments, regulators and other policy makers.
Membership and participation in the GSA 4G-5G FWA Forum is open to chipset, module, and terminal vendors, together with industry representatives from across the telecommunications ecosystem who wish to promote Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) technology, products and services.
For more information or a GSA 4G-5G FWA Forum Application Forum, please email [email protected]
GSA is the voice of the global mobile ecosystem representing companies engaged in the supply of infrastructure, semiconductors, test equipment, devices, applications and mobile support services. The organization plays a central role in promoting 3GPP technology, advocating spectrum policies and stimulating IMT industry development. The association is a single source of information for industry reports and market intelligence
The GSA GAMBoD database is a unique search and analysis tool that has been developed to enable searches of LTE and 5G devices and new global data on Mobile Broadband Networks, Technologies and Spectrum (NTS). Results are presented as a list or in charts. Charts may be inserted into documents or presentations, subject to accreditation of GSA as the source.
GAMBoD is a resource dedicated to promoting the success and growth of the Mobile Broadband (MBB) industry and ecosystem and is fully available to all employees of GSA Executive and Ordinary Member companies and GSA Associates who subscribe to the service.
- More information on GAMBoD is available at: https://gsacom.com/gambod/
- Press Release for New GSA FWA Forum: https://gsacom.com/press-release/new-gsa-fwa-forum/
STL Partners — FWA Market Review and Analysis:
Today, fixed-wireless access (FWA) is used for perhaps 8-9% of broadband connections globally, although this varies significantly by definition, country and region. There are various use cases (see below), but generally FWA is deployed in areas without good fixed broadband options, or by mobile-only operators trying to add an additional fixed revenue stream, where they have spare capacity.
FWA via 4G -LTE using licensed spectrum has already experienced rapid growth of in numerous markets, such as South Africa, Japan, Sri Lanka, Italy, and the Philippines. This past week, T-Mobile announced an expansion of their 4G FWA called Home Internet service.
This growth has been driven by the combined impact of mobile network operators (MNOs) commercialising FWA services to households in underserved urban areas, the slow pace of fibre roll-out in some countries, government subsidies for rural broadband, and improvements in network planning tools and customer premise equipment with easier self-install options.According to STL Partners’ latest research and market forecasts, 5G is likely to have a major impact for operators in the coming years, especially from 2022 onwards as more spectrum becomes available to more operators, and equipment prices fall.
Nonetheless, 4G – LTE will continue to be more important than 5G in the FWA market overall at a global level over the next 5 years; the technology is much further down the cost- and experience curve, as well as using existing network infrastructure and spectrum.
Historically, most FWA has required an external antenna and professional installation on each individual house, although it also gets deployed for multi-dwelling units (MDUs, i.e. apartment blocks) as well as some non-residential premises like shops and schools. More recently, self-installed indoor CPE with varying levels of price and sophistication has helped broaden the market, enabling customers to get terminals at retail stores or delivered direct to their home for immediate use.
Looking forward, the arrival of 5G mass-market equipment and larger swathes of mmWave and new mid-band spectrum – both licensed and unlicensed – is changing the landscape again, with the potential for fibre-rivalling speeds, sometimes at gigabit-grade.
STL believes that the biggest changes and opportunities catalysed by 5G FWA will be:
• Alternative source of gigabit broadband in urban areas without fibre, or with poor competition and pricing.
• Mobile-only operators will target attractive demographic or sub-regional niches that fit with their existing and planned 5G footprint.
• Fixed and fixed-mobile converged broadband providers will use 5G FWA as a backup or enhancement for fixed-line services.
• The growing democratisation of 5G, with better support of unlicensed spectrum, plus cloud-delivered core networks and edge offload, will broaden its range beyond traditional MNOs to some wireless internet service providers (WISPs), cable operators, and others.
• Local licensing and new tranches of unlicensed spectrum will create options for municipalities, education agencies, and other public-sector bodies to offer 5G FWA for home-schooling, telemedicine, and other applications.
• In the longer term (2023 onwards) improved mmWave technology, including repeaters and other forms of signal-booster, could expand the addressable market for gigabit FWA.
FWA Use Cases…. Source STL Partners