Research firm SNS estimates that 5G-based fixed wireless access deployments will generate $1 billion in revenue in 2019 and account for more than $40 billion in revenue from 2019 to 2025. The analyst firm singled out the 5G fixed wireless deployments by U.S. operators AT&T and Verizon, which are both currently conducting friendly user trials of 5G with the goal of commercially deploying the technology by late 2018, as being a boon for both service providers and equipment makers.
Verizon has said that it could launch commercial 5G fixed wireless by late 2018 if it’s successful with its friendly user trials. However, Verizon’s deployment is based upon its own proposed 5G specs that the company released in June 2016 and will therefore not necessarily be 3GPP standards compliant.
AT&T meanwhile has indicated it may launch 5G fixed wireless in late 2018 but not have widespread availability until 2019.
Both operators have indicated that those early fixed 5G networks will likely serve as last-mile connectivity in areas where fiber is not available or too costly to deploy. And both are using millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum for their deployments.
According to SNS, the 28 GHz band of spectrum is preferred for these early 5G-based fixed wireless deployments and many vendors are already developing 28 GHz equipment.
And while densely populated urban areas may be the most likely to see early fixed 5G deployments, SNS said that a number of rural operators –including C Spire and U.S. Cellular – are also beginning to look at 5G fixed wireless as a way to deliver last-mile broadband connectivity to underserved rural areas.
Eyes On Arqiva
Outside the U.S., SNS said that there is interest in 5G fixed wireless from operators in Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Australia, and even emerging markets such as the Philippines. However, SNS singled out Arqiva, a U.K.-based infrastructure company, as a company to watch because of its 5G fixed wireless trial with Samsung.
In July Arqiva said it had a live 5G fixed wireless network in London that was powered by Samsung gear and running on 28 GHz mmWave spectrum. Arqiva said its system consists of a radio access unit on the roof of its office that links to a router inside Arqiva’s headquarters. The system uses Samsung’s virtualized core to manage user connections and data routing from Arqiva’s network to the Internet running on Arqiva’s data center servers.
At the time of the trial, the company said it wanted to demonstrate the stability of 5G fixed wireless and also the potential for it being a fast-to-market alternative to fiber.