Mark Giannini, Founder and CEO
Amongst calls for more government involvement in U.S. Telecom industry in order to expand access to broadband—the acknowledged “bright spot” is wireless. The U.S. leads the world with respect to 4G deployment, and ongoing investment suggests that more is on the way. The reason to believe that fixed wireless is going to play an important role is supported by several key trends detailed by Mark Lowenstein on FierceWireless in a recent article.
1. Greater Competition
By the end of 2014, the U.S. will have four national, facilities-based LTE networks available to U.S. consumers, assuming current industry plans and structure with respect to Sprint and T-Mobile’s plans. This will usher in a more competitive period in wireless pricing and disruptive business models.
LTE-Advanced is progressing rapidly, promising significant increases in network speed and spectral efficiency. There are two game-changing elements here: channel aggregation, which allows an operator to “pool” its holdings across various parts of the spectrum band to offer up to 100 MHz of capacity allowing at least 2x the downlink speeds compared to LTE. Lowenstein acknowledges that this will require a home gateway/router could be among the first types of products to be able to accommodate that type of antenna configuration—something that is already evident in B2B service offerings.
An active deal market and a more open FCC has resulted in a significant improvement of the spectrum position of major operators, as evidenced by AT&T WCS, Verizon-SpectrumCo, and Dish S-band. AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint are now each in a position to have at least 100 MHz of spectrum available in nearly all markets. Importantly for broadband, the 802.22 standard published by the IEEE will allow for the installation and deployment of wireless regional area networks (WRANs) using TVWS. This opens the possibility for WRANS to deliver 22 Mbps to 29 Mbps of data speed over a radius of 10-30 kilometers.
4. Small Cells/Wi-Fi
In 2013, we will start seeing aggressive deployment of small cells (microcells and picocells), as part of a concerted effort by the wireless operators to densify wireless networks in order to improve coverage and increase spectrum efficiency. These HetNets, which are now economically viable for the operators to deploy, also result in a greater percentage of subscribers experiencing the higher end of promised LTE throughput.
5. Government Money
There are several large pools of federal dollars being made available to facilitate and accelerate broadband deployment: the wireless-centric $6.5 billion Connect America Fund; the Broadband Acceleration Initiative; the NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program; and the $7 billion First Responder Network being funded out of the upcoming incentive auction; and billions of dollars in grants and loans to states for rural broadband programs, where wireless/fixed wireless will play a prominent role.
The investment by government, the private sector and technology companies in fixed wireless has closed the delta between wireless and wired services like DLS, Cable and T1’s. As a leader in fixed wireless technology and optimization, Accel Networks agrees with this industry analysis and is poised to support the expansion of fixed wireless broadband as a viable alternative to lengthy 45 day installation cycles, 30% coverage misses, and missing SLAs.
Per Lowenstein, “we could see broadband displacement by wireless”. With the U.S. lead in 4G wireless, a climate of innovation, significant capex commitments among the major operators helping to accelerate the disruption in the near-to-medium term, the U.S. might become one of the most vigorously competitive broadband markets in the world—with wireless will taking the lead…