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As operators continue to roll out 5G networks, and the commercial launch of 5G fixed wireless broadband services accelerates, a commensurate spike is set for 5G fixed wireless consumer premises equipment (CPE), with analyst ABI Research forecasting shipments of more than two million units by the end of this year.
In its 5G devices for fixed wireless broadband report, the analyst noted that fixed wireless broadband services based on Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology have been widely deployed globally, mostly focusing on areas with a poor fixed network infrastructure. 5G technology opens more opportunities for the fixed wireless broadband segment.
ABI sees 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) as bringing several benefits to operators and consumers alike. The deployment of 5G fixed wireless broadband networks in place of last-mile fibre connectivity will save costs and time to install fibre-optic lines while providing gigabit-capacity broadband access.
“Interestingly, except for China and a few other developed markets, fibre-to-the-home penetration is still limited to less than 20% of total households worldwide,” noted Khin Sandi Lynn, industry analyst at ABI Research. “This creates a huge opportunity for the whole 5G fixed wireless broadband market.”
Looking at how the fixed 5G will grow, especially in the US, ABI’s report also observed that after the initial launch in four US 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 are some of the operators that have rolled out a 5G FWA service. Several service providers worldwide are also working towards the commercial launch of 5G fixed wireless broadband services.
Sandi Lynn, ABI Research
The study also analysed the active role that chipsets and device makers were already playing in the 5G FWA space. It cited as an example Qualcomm partnering with more than 30 manufacturers to develop 5G FWA CPE, while at the same time device makers such as Huawei, NetComm, Nokia, and Samsung have already introduced 5G FWA CPE.
ABI predicts that as the 5G FWA ecosystem evolves, there will be additional commercial launches of 5G FWA services and CPE, and forecasts that the 5G FWA CPE market will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 71% to reach just fewer than seven million units by 2024.
Yet, and providing a spur for kit take-up, ABI highlighted that depending on the deployment scenario, 5G FWA services will need different forms of CPE covering areas such as the selection of indoor or outdoor, mmWave or sub-6GHz, and so on.
The analyst advised device makers that they should make sure to support various form factors and specifications to meet service provider requirements. It added that the integration of advanced Wi-Fi features, the ability to connect to smart home devices, and in-home Wi-Fi management solutions could add value for 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 added.
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