The firm says 4G fixed wireless access (FWA) has been launched by an estimated 406 mobile operators in 164 of the 195 countries in the world.
Fixed wireless was the first use case for 5G when it was launched in 2018, and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the characteristics of of 5G mean it can affordably address gaps in digital connectivity. It is expected to play a significant role in expediting digital transformation by redefining access technology to enable critical and vital broadband as the foundation for market disruption.
Examples include Softbank in Japan (offering download speeds of up to 350Mbps in some areas but with an average speed of just 40-50Mbps) and Zain in Saudi Arabia (which gained tens of thousands of subscribers within a year, with at least four times the ARPU of 4G subscribers).
In Australia, Telstra and Optus offer 5G fixed wireless in limited areas.
"With COVID-19, the telecoms industry has witnessed a growth in subscribers and revenues for 4G and 5G FWA services,” said Frost & Sullivan associate director Quah Mei Lee.
"5G FWA offers faster rollout and on-boarding, reducing deployment time from weeks to less than a day, and offering download speeds of up to 100 Mbps.
"5G FWA has the potential to reduce the cost of mobile broadband by up to 25% if supported by massive multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) and high-performance, in-house end-user devices or customer premise equipment (CPE)."
Frost & Sullivan believes 5G FWA paired with new devices and lower-cost CPE can drive innovation and growth in new fixed mobile convergence solutions.
Other factors driving 5G FWA adoption include its incorporation in national broadband plans, the allocation of sufficient spectrum, and increased activity in the healthcare and education sectors.