Opening up new revenue streams and expanding the addressable market will never be fully achieved if operators continue to use traditional broadband services and don’t leverage mobile network assets, NetComm Wireless’ Director of Technology Strategy warned today.
Speaking at TNO’s Ultra-fast Broadband Seminar, held in The Netherlands, Els Baert delved into the importance of a stable, fast connection for homeowners and businesses who currently remain in the broadband slow lane with inadequate speeds, harming productivity.
“Although we have the capabilities to upgrade networks to 1Gbps, there are still many households that don’t have access to high-speed broadband,” said Baert. “End-users with an unreliable connection don’t want to pay a large fee to upgrade their service to 1Gbps but are more than willing to pay to be connected or to get speeds of 50Mbps.
“The internet has been reclassified. It is now a public utility in the world, standing alongside water, electricity and gas in terms of social importance,” she added. “It would be reasonable to suggest a link between broadband growth and economic development as governments across the globe are becoming more and more aware of the critical need for national connectivity.”
The European Commission aims to roll-out 100 Mbps speeds to 100% of its citizens by 2025, but this cannot be done without taking a new approach to fixed broadband using wireless technology, Baert added.
She continued: “Many operators have spectrum available in rural areas that is underutilised and which can be used to offer fixed broadband services to evolve to ubiquitous broadband. To expand the addressable market even further, the challenge exists in the scenario where an operator does not have a lead in to provide a service. With the evolution of cellular technology, it is now possible to deliver broadband services over a wireless connection as opposed to fixed lines. In suburban areas, there is less spectrum available, but it can still be leveraged to connect end-users quickly and cost-effectively.
“In urban areas, the spectrum is fully utilised and as a result there is a major challenge to add fixed wireless services on top of that. Yet with new innovations being added to the 3GPP standard in the road to 5G, it will be possible to offer fixed wireless services.”
According to a Market Insights Report, the Fixed Wireless Access market has emerged as one of the most predominant use cases for 5G network rollouts to deliver last-mile connectivity, with the market expected to grow to a worth of more than $40 billion by 2025.
When using wireless technologies for fixed broadband services, Baert said operators need to be aware that current mobile networks are not built for fixed broadband services. Visibility and control is limited to the base station and therefore the same quality of service cannot be guaranteed. End-users expect reliability, higher speeds and support from a fixed broadband service.
Baert added: “The responsibility of an operator in a traditional mobile network ends at the base station meaning there is no guaranteed service or reliability. Operators should expand the so-called “trusted zone” if they want to use fixed wireless as a true alternative to fixed broadband.”
By extending the trusted zone, Baert explained, operators can start connecting homes with a directional antenna which needs to be installed with optimised tools to find the closest base stations to allow for the most direct line of sight. This will result in a higher Signal-to-Noise ratio and allows the user to know exactly the type of speed the network is able to provide at all times. The trusted zone eradicates the worries of lesser control for mobile as it provides the operator with more visibility and control over the broadband experience. It enables them to remotely monitor and manage the connection to avoid unnecessary truck rolls which result in high operational costs.
Using this higher bandwidth technology brings several benefits for operators, Baert continued: “By expanding their service offering they are not only connecting end-users, but, as automation hits, it also allows for machine-to-machine communications. Once the fixed wireless network is installed, operators can use this network to expand as they grow.”
NetComm Wireless is building momentum for this alternative approach with its Intelligent Fixed Wireless Access (IFWA) carrier-grade solutions which are guaranteed to provide reliable performance to targeted premises. Proven to perform at a level that brings fixed line equivalent broadband reliability to homes and businesses in hard to reach areas, the IFWA is a fast and economical substitute to fixed broadband.
“There is a huge opportunity for operators to find new revenue streams if they use fixed wireless,” Baert concluded. “From security and surveillance, healthcare, and infrastructure, the solution can be utilised and manipulated to work for what you need it to do. Carriers and network operators have the power to address rural areas, expand their footprint and connect machines to offer better business services.”