US telco giants driving FWA technology growth

  • FWA is the broadband trend du jour
  • Mobile operators are leveraging their 5G coverage to offer competitive broadband services, especially in the US
  • Dell’Oro sees the FWA technology sector growing by 35% this year

In case you hadn’t noticed, the fixed wireless access (FWA) sector is on fire (though, fortunately, not literally). Every month we hear of new deployments or increased uptake around the world and, as a result, the market for FWA technology is also growing quickly. 

According to Dell’Oro Group, revenues from FWA radio access network (RAN) technology and customer premises equipment (CPE) are set to increase by 35% year on year in 2022, driven mainly by demand in North America, where both T-Mobile US and Verizon have been leveraging their national sites to market 5G-enabled FWA services and grow their customer bases.

In its recent third-quarter earnings report, T-Mobile noted it had added 578,000 home internet (FWA) customers to take its total to 2.1 million, and reiterated that it expects within the next few years to sign up between 6 million and 8 million customers to the service which, at $50 per month, is much cheaper than rival cable broadband services and, as a result, attractive to consumers at a time when domestic budgets are squeezed. 

Meanwhile, Verizon added 234,000 consumer FWA customers in the third quarter to take its total to more than 620,000; it also has more than 440,000 business FWA customers. 

“Fixed wireless access has become a key component to bridging the digital divide and connecting rural and underserved markets globally,” noted Jeff Heynen, vice president and analyst with Dell’Oro. “What we are also seeing is that FWA can effectively compete with existing fixed broadband technologies, especially with the advent of 5G and other higher-throughput, non-3GPP technologies,” he added.

“Ongoing growth and demand is set to see FWA technology revenues exceed $25bn in the 2022-2026 period, with the US being the most “dynamic in terms of deployed FWA technology options,” as CBRS and other sub-6GHz options are deployed alongside 5G and even 60GHz connectivity.

In the longer term, emerging markets in South-east Asia and the Middle East and Africa are set to drive subscriber uptake as FWA is a way to connect end users to the internet economically and 4G networks are upgraded to better support broadband services. 

Dell’Oro’s growth projections tie in with those from other research houses. 

According to a recent Juniper Research forecast, service providers are expected to generate an estimated $2.5bn from 5G FWA services in 2023, compared with an expected $515m this year. The predictions for 2027 are even more bullish: 5G FWA deployments are expected to account for $24bn in revenue, depending on telcos’ capabilities to deliver bundled services and lure customers away from fibre broadband services.

And according to Ericsson, there were about 90 million FWA connections at the end of 2021, with that number set to top 100 million this year and hit almost 230 million by 2027. The vendor’s study of service provider retail offerings worldwide found that of 311 service providers around the world that were studied, 238 already have a fixed wireless access offering, and that the number of operators offering 5G FWA services increased by about 30% to 75 during the first six months of this year. 

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV


Email Newsletters

Sign up to receive TelecomTV's top news and videos, plus exclusive subscriber-only content direct to your inbox.