Houston, we have a solution! Welcome to the world’s first 5G home network
Earlier this month, the world took a giant leap toward 5G home services when Verizon launched the world’s first 5G Home in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. But what does this mean in the race for 5G and where will the journey take us next?
For fixed broadband reach beyond fiber access reach
Verizon launched a fixed wireless residential broadband service which acts as a complement to fiber access and also targets households not yet connected with fiber to the home. The service, which is capable of delivering 300Mbps over-the-air to a residential broadband terminal in the home, is offered to consumers for just $70 per month – or $50 when bundled with a smartphone service – and already includes all additional installation costs and taxes. Through 5G and millimeter wave access, Verizon can deliver speeds of 1Gbps over distances of up to 1,000 feet and 20 stories high.
The four households of today’s fiber broadband divide
Today’s urban areas are exposed to a fiber broadband divide – which has resulted in four different household types. The first household has fiber and is already served well. Then there are households which are offered fiber but not yet subscribed to any service. The third household wants fiber but cannot get it. And then there are households who want fiber-like services – provided that they are offered at a lower price point.
This can be traced back to the initial universal deployment of traditional fixed broadband services in the late 1990s. Not long after, the top end of the market began complementing home services with fiber – offering high performance without the need to rip up existing installations. But the further providers tried to penetrate the market, the lower the revenues per household and the higher the costs. Fiber access therefore must complement fixed broadband.
Fixed Wireless Access using 5G technology can play a key role in closing the fiber divide by connecting all urban and suburban households with powerful broadband. 5G Fixed Wireless Access has now started to be deployed in urban areas where a combined mobile and fixed wireless access service is a great dual-play offering.
First mobile network generation to start as fixed wireless
All previous wireless network technologies have eventually been used for fixed wireless access. Mobile technologies from 1G to 4G, often with a lag of several years from mobile launch to fixed wireless adoption, have helped to target segments of the fixed broadband market where fixed broadband has been either too costly or too slow to market.
5G is unique in the sense that mobile and fixed wireless will both enter the market in 2018 – with Fixed Wireless Access being first out of the gate for 5G, starting in high- band millimeter wave access, and firm opportunities developing in mid-band spectrum soon after. What makes me excited is that fixed and mobile broadband technologies have never been closer in performance: to the point where fiber delivers more than you need, and fixed wireless offers performance you use.
Municipalities and service providers collaborate to accelerate adoption
Both fixed- and mobile broadband services have developed in an age where the consumer constantly demands faster speeds. This is being matched by service providers who are just as eager to introduce new technologies to improve their offer. Consumers and broadband service providers will remain strong stakeholders. But they need a helping hand.
5G has a stronger dependency on municipalities. Both on the demand and the supply side. Cities aspiring to become smart cities want to leverage 5G. Cities experiencing a fiber broadband divide want to close the gap with 5G. Service providers are dependent on municipalities to secure pole permits, power, and backhaul. As a consequence of these dependencies, we see close collaborations taking place between municipalities and service providers. 5G is a major growth opportunity, and mayors look at 5G as an infrastructure to secure growth.
The million-pole challenge and millimeter wave access
An essential part of 5G introduction in urban areas is tied to radio network densification, where existing cell towers are complemented with poles in the neighborhood. These poles play a central role in delivering mobile and fixed wireless access services in urban areas. With mobile radios often described as having the size of a pizza box that can fit in a back pack and must be super simple to install.
According to CTIA, approximately 800k small cells will be deployed in the coming eight years. An increase by a factor 10 per year compared to what we have seen over recent years. The million-pole challenge is about the associated deployment challenges for radio network densification where service providers need a permit, power and mobile transport to each cell. With a business model enabling investments when required for network performance reasons. Clarity on rules and regulations for the supporting infrastructure is vital for rapid network builds.
Predictions for the future
The growing momentum for 5G Fixed Wireless Access technology makes the industry really exciting to follow right now, especially in North America. Here alone, the following milestones appear to soon be within reach:
- 5G Fixed Wireless Access closes the fiber broadband divide in urban areas;
- Municipalities and service providers collaborate to accelerate the 5G build in cities aspiring to become smart cities; and
- A dual play of mobile and fixed wireless broadband are becoming more attractive to generations not used to paying for telephony and TV services.
5G fixed wireless access changes the game in connectivity. Learn more about Ericsson’s 5G Fixed Wireless Access solutions here.