5G to Account for 40% of FWA Market in 2026

New York, New York - November 10, 2021

The worldwide Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) market is expanding quickly to fulfil the need of high-speed broadband connectivity for both business and consumer segments. 5G FWA, a powerful platform providing fiber-like broadband service, will be accelerating the FWA market. Global technology intelligence firm ABI Research forecasts that in 2026, the FWA market will exceed 180 million subscriptions and generate US$70 billion in revenue. The 5G FWA market will then account for 40% of total FWA market.

Since 5G deployments continue to accelerate, operators are taking advantage of the 5G technology to provide high capacity FWA services. High-speed and low latency supported by 5G networks enable providers to offer an attractive alternative to fixed broadband services in the areas where fiber-optic broadband doesn’t reach. “5G FWA services can be deployed faster and at lower cost compared to installing Fiber to the Home (FTTH). Faster time-to-market at a lower CAPEX is the key advantage of FWA deployments to expand the service coverage and boost adoption,” explains Khin Sandi Lynn, industry analyst at ABI Research.

Quickly progressing 5G rollouts in North America and Western Europe is expected to drive the 5G FWA market as operators target to offer 5G FWA to the areas where FTTH is not covered. Considering the size of the DSL user base in North America and the low FTTH penetration in Western Europe, the opportunity for 5G FWA service is significant. However, despite limited fixed broadband penetration in emerging markets, potentially delayed 5G deployments will result LTE to be dominant FWA service in the forecast period.  In 2026, North America and Europe combined will represent nearly 60% of global 5G FWA subscriptions.

Most of 5G FWA deployments at this moment are using mid-band. However, mmWave is of increasing interest since the higher bandwidth available in mmWave bands can support FWA broadband speed competitive to fiber-optic and DOCSIS technologies. Verizon is the early adopter of 5G FWA service in mmWave. Other operators including US Cellular and Fastweb in Italy are also planning 5G FWA roll outs using mmWave.  Although mmWave supports promising capacity, operators are likely to deploy a mix of mmWave and mid-band to balance speed and coverage. The choice of spectrum will depend on the market requirements such as bandwidth demand and population density in the targeted area.

Besides selecting the right spectrum band to fit the market demand, setting strategies to efficiently monetize FWA services is crucial for service providers. “Forming FWA packages which fit bandwidth and data demand and bundling with value-added services can increase adoption rates. Service providers should also explore innovative services to capture revenue creating opportunities, such as cloud gaming, high resolution video streaming, AR/VR based applications for entertainment and healthcare. The ability to offer such services can fuel demand for 5G FWA services as well as enable service providers to grow revenue,” Lynn concludes.  

These findings are from ABI Research’s FWA Operator Strategies: 4G, 5G, mmWave, and Alternative Technologies application analysis report. This report is part of the company’s 5G and Mobile Network Infrastructure research service, which includes research, data, and ABI Insights. Based on extensive primary interviews, Application Analysis reports present in-depth analysis on key market trends and factors for a specific technology.

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