3 ways 5G FWA will change how people connect in 2023
5G is already making new innovations and services possible in businesses and homes around the world. This strong growth will continue through 2023 as the technology becomes more ubiquitous and affordable. And the industry should expect fixed wireless access (FWA) to be a main driver of this 5G growth:
- The value of the global 5G FWA market is forecast to hit US$29.4 billion in 2023 and to reach US$153 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 39%. (Source: MarketsandMarkets)
- The share of enterprise sites using 5G as a primary or backup network will grow from 1% in 2022 to 10% in 2025. (Source: Gartner)
- The number of 5G FWA connections is set to grow to around 235 million by 2028, representing almost 80 percent of all FWA connections. (Source: Ericsson)
With its ability to deliver high-speed broadband and support bandwidth-intensive services, 5G FWA is becoming a popular primary and secondary link for businesses and homes in rural and suburban areas. Its scalability and cost-efficiency make it a reliable solution for temporary deployments as well.
As we prepare for a surge in FWA projects in 2023, let’s take a look at its three major applications.
1. Primary broadband link
5G FWA can be used as the primary broadband access for users who would otherwise have no reliable or cost-effective broadband. For home users, this is typically outside cities in rural and suburban areas; one popular use case is vacation homes, especially in Nordic countries where 5G is prevalent and affordable. For business, the scope is even greater: factories, warehouses, and even cruise ships.
In a smart factory scenario, FWA together with network slicing and mMTC (massive Machine-Type Communications) bring benefits like improvements to connection quality which are necessary for modern robotics and automation. This enables more precise manufacturing with fewer mistakes, with production line workers able to conduct AR- and VR-assisted quality inspections. It also facilitates asset tracking, saving on cabling for automatic guided vehicles and further enhancing the use of autonomous mobile robots.
5G delivered via FWA can also be a game-changer for businesses in remote or small locations that don’t carry mission-critical traffic or have high volumes, and that don’t have any other connection alternatives. Imagine seamless connectivity for kiosks, small retail stores, oil and gas production sites, and even rural branch locations where traditional copper-based broadband solutions fall short.
2. Secondary link
When your primary internet link goes down, you need your mission-critical traffic to continue, be it for point-of-sale transactions or inventory management. Having a reliable backup connection is the difference between business continuity and wasted downtime.
We’re already seeing 5G FWA emerge as a popular secondary link, holding down the fort as a failover network in the event of a wired connectivity failure. Some of the strongest growth is coming from organizations that have relatively small locations and want a competitively priced backup link – think retail stores, restaurants, and cafes. When businesses like these, which typically deploy wired connectivity, want to add high-speed wireless services for a large number of customers and don’t want to build another wired network, 5G FWA has become an attractive option.
3. Temporary WAN link
5G FWA is a reliable and efficient solution for temporary deployments. With their quick installation process, these temporary WAN links are perfect for seasonal businesses, events, construction sites, and even emergency situations like pop-up hospitals or temperature checks during the pandemic. 5G makes these WAN connections flexible and mobile, allowing you to move them around as needed to different locations – anywhere that has 5G coverage. In Germany, for example, 5G-powered temporary WAN links are being used in container offices on worksites for checking emails and orders.
Although 4G has been able to provide decent temporary WAN service, it hasn’t been able to support applications with larger bandwidth demands such as HD livestreaming. This is another inflection point where 5G changes the game. 5G’s low latency makes it possible to enable up to 8K livestreaming even in high-density environments at crowded events like concerts and conferences, minimizing or entirely eliminating video lag and other interruptions. For a real-world example, see how Zyxel is helping one multimedia company livestream 4K panoramic videos lag-free in packed venues.
As 5G coverage expands and becomes more affordable, we’re expecting the rate of FWA deployments to continue growing not just in 2023 but beyond.