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It takes planning to boldly go where no fiber has gone before

Twitter: @RiittaSiira 

We are all eagerly expecting the arrival of 5G – superfast downloads of movies on the go, tele-presence and driverless cars are just a few of the uses we can think of now. But what else could it do?

There’s a lot of talk about providing all the multi-play services to the home that so excite consumers - fixed voice, broadband, TV and mobile? Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) is likely to be a use case for 5G. But do the economics of 5G-based FWA really add up? And how do you bring it to reality?

Fiber to the home (FTTH) already offers the capacity for multi-play services, but it can be uneconomical in residential areas that are impractical or hard to reach. The arrival of 5G gives service providers a real opportunity to address an untapped market segment with competitively priced, yet high performance broadband access to households that can not be connected by fiber.

Yet, whether 5G is the appropriate choice for a particular project will depend on circumstances. A communications service provider will need to evaluate which technology is best for its market or even for different areas within a market.

Factors influencing the decision include any existing infrastructure, the density of households in the served area, the broadband speeds needed, the time it takes to provide new services and the costs.

Achieving a balance between these factors means taking fiber to the most economical point, perhaps using a wireless technology to complete the connection to the customer.

To show how 5G compares with FTTH or xDSL-like services, Nokia experts conducted an analysis of how 5G-based FWA could work across major cities in Western Europe and the USA, looking at all area types: dense urban, urban and suburban.

Most residential broadband capacity is consumed by high definition video services, so we took this as the main source of traffic. Other factors included data speeds, take-up rates, density of housing and overbooking, where the capacity provided is lower than the sum of capacities for all users.

The study shows that while it is challenging for wireless access to emulate the very high-performance characteristics of FTTH, just a modest adjustment in performance coupled with expert network planning creates a viable business case that still satisfies all the needs for high quality household broadband services.

What technology do you think will dominate the market for household broadband connectivity?

But there’s a caveat. Isn’t there always? While 5G is predominantly seen as a mobile broadband technology, conventional mobile network planning will not cover all the complexities of the FWA use case.

The performance and commercial feasibility of any FWA deployment is highly sensitive to a complex and wide-ranging set of variables. Planning demands a level of know-how that encompasses network planning, mmWave radio propagation expertise and analytics insights to properly assess environmental factors. In one case, moving a base station antenna location by just a few meters can make the difference between excellent and zero connectivity inside a household because of surrounding foliage.

We’ve shown how, in the right circumstances and with the right planning expertise, 5G-based FWA can be a competitive approach to xDSL and cable, two technologies that dominate the market for household broadband connectivity.

Get the planning right and a new stream of revenue and huge population of new multi-play customers will be opened up.

Take a deeper dive into Fixed Wireless Access

New  whitepaper: ‘A practical business case for 5G-based fixed wireless access
Live simulation: Explore our Techno-economic modelling of 3 key 5G use cases live simulation
Webinar: Register to our webinar on October 11th with Analysis Mason, hosted by Vanillaplus: ‘5G transformations necessitate individualised approaches and integrated strategies’
Webpage:  read more on our  Nokia 5G Acceleration Services webpage to help you turn 5G visions into real business opportunity

Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #5G #NokiaServices  #FWA

Riitta Siira

About Riitta Siira

Riitta is responsible for Nokia's 5G Services and strategic projects. She’s fascinated by the 5G world of opportunities and wants a front row seat when the first use cases are live. Her multiple devices and apps keep her connected with family and friends, and she loves to express herself through her blogs. Tweet me @RiittaSiira

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