Wi-Fi Mesh and 5G FWA: The Key Technologies to Bring Better Broadband to All

Fixed Wireless Access services will bring better quality to saturated markets and usher in connectivity to suburban and rural areas with inefficient fixed network infrastructure

Oyster Bay, New York - 05 May 2021

As the demand for broadband connectivity increases, many mature markets have reached close to 100% household penetration resulting in higher competition among broadband operators.  Deployment of solutions and services which support better broadband user experience is becoming critical for broadband operators to achieve business success in the saturated broadband markets. Smart Wi-Fi and Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) are becoming among the key solutions to enhance existing broadband services and support fiber-like broadband in underserved markets without installing last-mile fiber connectivity. Global tech market advisory firm ABI Research forecasts that smart Wi-Fi and FWA deployments will drive Wi-Fi mesh and 5G FWA Consumer Premise Equipment (CPE) unit shipments to reach 40.6 million and 14.6 million units respectively in 2025.

Despite the operators’ efforts to provide higher-speed broadband services, investment in infrastructure upgrades alone is no longer enough for a better user experience. As the number of connected devices per household continues to grow, users increasingly demand better in-home Wi-Fi networks.  “Reliable Wi-Fi is crucial as video streaming, online gaming, and video conferencing applications are booming, especially in saturated markets. Operators are responding to the demand by supplying customers with CPE that have mesh systems and higher Wi-Fi standards such as Wi-Fi 6 to support the whole home experience,” explains Khin Sandi Lynn, Industry Analyst at ABI Research.

Wi-Fi mesh systems are gaining popularity for complete home Wi-Fi coverage and to support network management tools such as parental control, device-level traffic control, and self-diagnosis in case of technical issues.  These features will continue to drive the adoption of mesh devices in residential broadband services. Providing advanced Wi-Fi devices enables broadband operators to enhance user’s experience as well as increase the average revenue per user (ARPU) as consumers pay an additional monthly fee for mesh systems,” says Lynn.

Broadband operators are also adding FWA services to support guaranteed quality-of-service (QoS). Broadband operators including Verizon, Deutsche Telekom, and Vodafone have launched 5G FWA in high-density urban areas to provide fiber-like broadband services. British Telecom has recently launched Hybrid Connect, an optional add-on service to fixed broadband users. Hybrid Connect enables all the devices within the home to connect to FWA in case of a technical problem in the fixed broadband.

In addition to Wi-Fi and FWA solutions, service providers need to consider adding value-added services such as internet and home security applications and smart-home solutions to their broadband services to create more revenue streams. “Ultimately, service providers need to embrace advanced technology and take advantage of their strong relationship with existing broadband customers to win their business goals. Investments in efficient software solutions to understand user behavior, including frequently used applications and services, data consumption, devices connected to the network, etc., will help service providers pinpoint the needs of their existing customers. In addition, the deployment of artificial intelligence and machine learning data analysis tools can help service providers achieve business benefits such as network optimization, preventive maintenance, and sales and marketing strategies,” concludes Lynn.

These findings are from ABI Research’s Broadband Operator Strategies in a Saturated Broadband Market: FWA and Hybrid Strategies application analysis report. This report is part of the company’s 5G & 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 application, which could focus on an individual market or geography.

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