Due to its relatively low speed in comparison to modern wireline alternatives, fixed wireless access (FWA) over 4G has largely been targeted at areas where there was either a lack of, or only slow-speed, wireline alternatives. Areas where it did not make economic sense to deploy fixed wireline broadband (e.g., remote/rural areas) were prime targets, as were nomadic users (e.g., students, renters, foreign workers) seeking cheap broadband, and those wanting the convenience of a portable connection (e.g., people with holiday homes).
In terms of overall marketing positioning, there is not a great deal of difference between 4G and 5G FWA. For example, Optus currently promotes the benefits of 5G FWA as offering superior speeds to the other local competition, simple set up, and no wires. Similar marketing propositions are true for other 5G FWA players (for more information, see Omdia’s 5G Fixed Wireless Strategies, Pricing, and Marketing report).
But the target segment for 5G FWA has certainly changed compared to that of 4G for one simple reason; speeds can now match if not better at least xDSL-based solutions. For example, whereas Optus traditionally targeted 4G at niche segments such as students, renters, and multiple dwelling buildings, 5G FWA is positioned more towards the mass market as a true broadband alternative. Network deployment is in suburban areas, and families in residential areas are key adopters of the 5G FWA service.
5G FWA operators are advertising average download speeds of between 150Mbps (Australia) and 400Mbps (UK). For speed, that cements 5G FWA as a rival to xDSL, and even some cable and low-speed fiber services. In short, 5G’s speed boost has changed the FWA business case to more of a mass-market proposition.
Operators in Australia, the UK, and the US are also pricing 5G FWA competitively to drive upsell from wireline technologies. In the UK for example, 5G FWA is a definite rival to xDSL and it is also faster and cheaper than cable and low-speed fiber plans. But competition in the US has some fiber rivals marketing much faster services (e.g., 940Mbps expected download speed) in direct price competition to Verizon’s 5G Home.
In addition to competition, the biggest challenges for 5G FWA are limited network coverage, especially in the short term as networks are rolled out, some technological challenges specifically around the initial setup (5G FWA is not always plug-and-play—see Omdia’s 5G FWA and the Connected Home report), and ensuring a consistent and reliable broadband experience. Moreover, telcos will need to further increase 5G FWA speeds to gigabit levels, in both the down and upwards directions, if they are to truly rival fiber competitors.
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