AT&T and Verizon 5G Update:
Exponential growth of 4G LTE coverage and capacity is driving wireless service growth for fixed broadband access, while fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), xDSL, and cable technologies reach nearly 50% of global households. As 5G standardization approaches completion, the technology will significantly accelerate global fixed wireless deployments. ABI Research forecasts worldwide fixed wireless broadband subscribers will grow at a 30% CAGR to top 151 million in 2022.
The arrival of 5G technology will completely transform fixed wireless broadband network deployments. Trials show that the technology’s superior performance over LTE will allow operators to deploy 5G for fixed wireless broadband service in densely populated areas.
Currently, fixed LTE broadband access is mainly deployed in remote areas where fixed line infrastructure is poor and it is not commercially feasible to deploy fixed networks. While government initiatives, high data transfer rates, and a large capacity are all attractive features for fixed LTE deployments now, fixed wireless broadband deployments will be further accelerated by their 5G successor in the years ahead.
US operators AT&T and Verizon already announced plans to deliver broadband access to businesses and residential customers using 5G fixed wireless networks.
AT&T recently announced its 5G Evolution plans for 2017 and beyond. “Our 5G Evolution plans will pave the way to the next-generation of higher speeds for customers. We’re not waiting until the final standards are set to lay the foundation for our evolution to 5G. We’re executing now,” said John Donovan, Chief Strategy Officer and Group President, Technology and Operations. “Data on our mobile network has increased about 250,000% since 2007, and the majority of that traffic is video. 5G’s promise of greater speed and overall network performance brings huge opportunities not only for video but in the Internet of Things, 4K video, augmented and virtual reality, smart home and cities, autonomous vehicles and much more.”1
Verizon is also on the 5G deployment path. John Stratton, Verizon EVP and President of Operations, recently shared the carrier’s current move towards fixed wireless commercial trials in 11 markets. They will include both consumers and enterprise customers, which will lay the ground work for actual deployments beginning in 2018.
At Deutsche Bank’s Annual Media and Telecom Conference, Stratton said, “…We’ve talked a little bit publicly about 11 markets around the US where we are now doing what we call pre-commercial trials. And so, we’ll have, and are in the process now of engaging live customers, regular standard issue folks, principally consumer but a little bit of business market’s opportunity for them to test and try the service.”
Stratton explained the testing would include “additional vetting of the technology,” including urban and suburban deployments and “different densities” for both buildings and foliage. The 11 markets cited for testing by mid-year include Ann Arbor, Michigan; Atlanta; Bernardsville, New Jersey; Brockton, Massachusetts; Dallas; Denver; Houston; Miami; Sacramento, California; Seattle; and Washington, D.C. The trials are set to use millimeter wave spectrum bands, with a service focus on providing wireless Internet access and voice over IP calling.2
Superior capacity offered by 5G technology will benefit operators to deploy fixed wireless access in densely populated areas. This will enable fiber-like broadband service to support bandwidth-hungry applications without the need to install fiber optic cables to each premises.