How is Fixed Wireless Access deployed? | 5G Telecoms Training from Mpirical

How is Fixed Wireless Access deployed? | 5G Telecoms Training from Mpirical

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The term FWA stands for Fixed Wireless Access and it's all about providing broadband connectivity to residential homes as well as potentially enterprises as well. So when we start thinking about the use cases for fixed wireless access, we say, 'well, what is it?' Well, here we have four residential homes. In this example, a couple of these residential homes already have connectivity to broadband. So, they have either a digital subscriber line, a DSL or xDSL connection. They may have cable, they may have some form of fibre connection, fibre-to-the-home, for example.

And that is already providing an element of broadband connectivity. Now, fixed wireless access could, in theory, enhance that, especially if they're using a DSL or a cable based system, you may get a better performance through fixed wireless access. We also have two residential homes here, which have currently no broadband connectivity. Now, this would be a prime example of being able to offer a cost-effective broadband connectivity to these houses. So, we start thinking about putting in a base station.

Now, that base station could be on various technologies, but we're going to focus on 4G and 5G fixed wireless access. So that base station will have a certain footprint, a certain cell, and in this example, you can see these houses are under the footprint of that cell. Now, just like your mobile phone, when you start looking at your device, looking at signal levels, you get bars of signal strength.

The same thing goes here. These houses will have a certain signal level arriving at those houses. Now, there are two types of deployments for fixed wireless access. There's a outdoor fixed wireless access solution and there's a indoor fixed wireless access solution.

Now we're going to go into the specifics of these outdoor and indoor fixed wireless access solutions later in different videos, but for now, you can see we've got two, if you like, permutations with respect to how we might deliver signals to our residential devices and get them connected. Now, it's worth pointing out that the outdoor fixed wireless access deployments, the antennas are outside the building, and as such, they provide better connectivity, further range, and potentially improve service. Again, it all depends on where that footprint is and again, the position of the residential property within that cell. Now it's worth pointing out, I've mentioned residential properties.

We could also use fixed wireless access in a enterprise environment as well to connect businesses. So it does depend on the scenario. Now in this example, I've got no fixed broadband on these two devices, and we've now provided broadband connectivity.

But they could be connected with say, a DSL connection. So, have a very low broadband connectivity already through a fixed line connection. And therefore, fixed wireless access might provide a better alternative. Again, a cost-effective alternative, possibly giving you higher data rates.

When we start thinking about the advantages of fixed wireless access, the key one is, if we haven't already got say, fibre, to those premises, we are potentially providing broadband without the requirement to actually install the fibre connection, which has quite a high cost with respect to the civil engineering, digging up the roads, for example. We are going to provide broadband at a certain level, and that might be comparable, or even better, than the current DSL providers within the area. And therefore, again, you're going to take an element of market share. In addition, you can see there's a targeted market area. Everybody wants to be connected in their homes, and therefore, there's an opportunity to provide services, an opportunity to provide services, deploying it, and then obviously canvassing different homes to be able to get connected to this service. Again, assuming we can get the price right for the service level that they're going to get.

The key disadvantage of fixed wireless access is related to the CPEs, the devices. And more specifically, the position of those devices. External CPEs need installation, and the idea is they technically need to be pointed towards the base station. Indoor CPEs, again,

depending on where they're positioned and the makeup of the residential property, the thickness of the walls, that could severely impact the actual connectivity to that particular device. We also need to think about radio spectrum. So that's something we're going to cover off a little bit later in the course, but generally if we have limited radio spectrum, we're going to have limited performance. So it's all about having the right amount of spectrum for the type of deployment we've got.

Now, when you're describing the sort of the current offering, the current broadband technologies that those residential properties may have, we've identified the fact that we have xDSL, cable, and fibre options potentially. As well as possibly other competitors to do with fixed wireless access. But in terms of these different technologies, when you start looking at using xDSL as a broadband solution, the key benefit of that is you already have the copper pair going to a residential house. So let's assume it's already installed. That's the key benefit in providing broadband across that connection. The disadvantage is typically related to the performance.

So, depending on your distance from the local exchange, depends on the the actual throughputs, the speed that you get. In addition, it's very asymmetrical in terms of downlink / uplink. And again, it could be quite drastic, the difference between what your downlink rate and your uplink rate is. In comparison, you start talking about cable systems, and again, there's different types of cable systems, but we're talking about coax down towards a premises there. Again, that might be already installed through a cable provider, so therefore, we don't need to have any sort of additional investment digging up roads, but in some countries we're not connected everywhere with cable or fibre. So therefore, there may be some investment there.

Key things about cable, potentially, limited speed again, again depends on where you are and obviously the connectivity. You're sharing bandwidth, but that's the same with lots of technologies as well. But again, you're sharing bandwidth within the sort of the linking of the cable system. And again, availability depends on where we've got cable deployed. And then closest to me, Fibre-To-The-Home, or FTTH, fibre-to-the-home is again, I suppose, the premium based solution, where you have very high data rates that could be achieved to a residential property, for example. The key disadvantage is the high investment cost with respect to putting the fibre there.

So that's again, the one of the key issues. The other one is the deployment challenges of actual the cable routes and the distance as well. So typically, when you start talking about fibre based systems, they're very good in the sort of urban and potentially suburban areas, but as you go to more rural locations, they become a lot more challenging. However, it is the preferred solution. So if you could get fibre to a residence, potentially, it's very hard for a fixed wireless access solution provider to provide a comparable service.

Again, it's quite difficult. And the reason is you can't really beat fibre optics. However, we're not here to always beat the competition with respect to fibre optic connection. We're here to provide additional connectivity to the houses that currently don't have a fibre connection, as well as provide a cost effective alternative. One of the key aspects of fixed wireless access from a service provider's perspective, is to make money. However, to make money, we have to have opportunities, marketing opportunities, we have to be able to sell our fixed wireless access solution to a consumer.

And therefore, we've got to think about the scenarios of where we can get access. So, the first one there would be potentially connecting the unconnected. So any residential properties or scenarios where we have very limited broadband connectivity penetration rate, is a prime opportunity for fixed wireless access solutions.

We can go in very quick. The time to market is very quick, with respect to deploying the base station. And then as soon as the base station is deployed and we have radio coverage, it's then again, a quick process to get those devices onto the system. Those, when I say devices, those CPEs, those consumers within residential environments.

So that is one of the prime markets for fixed wireless access. There may be other focused areas where we want to provide fixed wireless access to. And that might be related to possibly, government initiatives. And I suppose the unconnected scenario as well.

Very much so with respect to some government initiatives, we need to get everybody connected to the Internet, for example. So connecting the unconnected, connected potentially certain rural locations, or suburban locations, we might have again, a drive to provide more connectivity opportunities. Areas with existing fibre, they are a little bit more challenging with respect to opportunities, marketing opportunities. However, there is still an opportunity there because again, that service costs a certain amount.

Not every home potentially has got that connectivity, you know, so fibre may be installed, but at the time, the particular home user may not have actually paid the connection fee, for example, they don't want certain cable laying across their front lawn, for example. There may be different implementation scenarios that give the opportunity for a fixed wireless access provider to again, get in there and have an opportunity to sell to that particular consumer. We've already identified some of the key drivers of fixed wireless access. However, when we start describing from a service provider's perspective, the key driver has to be to generate revenue. And that might be from providing new connections to new customers or augmenting their existing connectivity, if they're, say, a mobile service provider and they're now providing an element of fixed services.

One of the other key drivers might be we've been provided some spectrum to use within country. So certain governments have put initiatives in place to get devices connected, or homes connected, and as such, they've made available certain spectrum, which might be quite cost effective to use, and therefore, there's an opportunity there. So that is, again, a driver. We might have this spectrum, so therefore, let's use it. There is an increased demand in broadband connectivity, and by having fixed wireless access solutions, we are again having a method to alleviate some of that requirement, that demand. I said before, that the government might have certain connectivity incentives, and therefore, they may even provide a discount on licensing, on deployment.

Again, if you meet certain, you know, number of users or connected devices over a period of time. Generally, by using fixed wireless access as opposed to deploying fibre, the idea is we are lowering the network cost. Now, you could find that certain fibre providers, fibre service providers, might come along and say, well, actually it's not cost effective to provide fibre to the rest of this area.

So what we might do is we might have a hybrid system which has fibre, but also we have fixed wireless access as well. So don't always assume that the fixed wireless access service provider is in competition with the fibre provider. It might be one of the same. And then finally, we're trying to enhance the performance.

It's worth pointing out that you may have some solution. The key thing with fixed wireless access, specifically 4G / 5G fixed wireless access is we're constantly enhancing the performance. And therefore, as 5G increases its capabilities, so would the fixed wireless access solution.

Now, when it comes to the revenue aspect, you know, we're generating revenue and as we added 4G, we're generating additional revenue. And what we're now saying is with the mobile broadband and 5G enhanced mobile broadband opportunities, we have this ability to keep on potentially, hopefully, adding value, adding services and increasing revenue. And getting more users connected. And that's going to go on and on with 5G. However, now as a mobile service provider, you've got your baseline capabilities there, but if we augment that with fixed wireless access, we have a potential to increase the revenue stream. Now, when we do that and we're saying, okay, we're providing fixed wireless access, that might be providing PSTN, Public Switch Telephone Network voice capabilities. So we're saying you don't need your connection using your copper-twisted pair.

We're going to use fixed wireless access to provide broadband and voice services. We could be augmenting the broadband with other services. So you hear the term, 'triple play' and 'quad play', where you start taking broadband, adding to it voice capabilities, streaming capabilities. Quad play, adding mobile into that mix as well. A fixed wireless service provider potentially, could also align themselves with a video on demand service, a video streaming service.

So rather than just the end consumer using any video service and just using their fixed wireless access as a broadband connection, the fixed wireless access service provider might link into a particular video on demand service, providing a certain quality of service to deliver that type of video. Again, that will involve you subscribing, again, increasing that revenue. We also have other potential revenue generating opportunities with connected services. So connecting homes, for example.

So there may be an integrated solution where your fixed wireless access CPE isn't just providing broadband, it's providing a whole inter-home connected system. When it comes to the rollout of a fixed wireless access solution, the service provider might have a particular opportunity window that they need to meet. For example, in a particular geographical area, we might be thinking about deploying fixed wireless access, but there's also competitors potentially producing either A) another fixed wireless access solution, or B), it could be related to say, a fibre deployment going out in that location. And therefore, there might be a marketing opportunity time-to-window, where we need to think, look, to roll this out and get market share, we need to do it in a timely fashion. So, you know, the time to market, the time to identify and get consumers on board, take that market share is quite key, with respect to rollout.

We also need to think about the fact that fixed wireless access does require a base station. So, whilst it's quick to get end users connected to an existing fixed wireless access solution, as in the base station's there and the 4G / 5G core network is there, if you have to build a base station, that is going to require some civils and some time and some planning permission. If you're an existing mobile service provider, you may already have key locations and all you're doing is adapting those for fixed wireless access deployment, which is a lot easier. So it depends on the scenario. Why are we doing this?

Why are we rolling out? The key thing is to make revenue, but we want market share. And in order to do that, we need to get customers buying into our fixed wireless access solution, and we want to lock them into subscriptions. So, you know, that links into the opportunity, the time to market, by being there, giving them the opportunity, we're going to bring them on and obviously lock them in for a period of time, you know, 12 months or discounts if they go longer, for example.

In addition to that, we can think about the scenario of, if we're trying to take if you like, business away from a DSL provider, so they've already got a fixed line broadband connection, let's say not fibre, we can actually again, take those users and again, entice them into our fixed wireless access solution. Again, offering them a certain service, locking them into a particular subscription. Now that locking subscription might not just be for the broadband connection. It could be for the voice, it could be for video on demand services. So there's other additional services that we might be tying in when we are locking somebody in.

And it could be related to things like connected homes. And again, the list goes on. One of the key things any service provider wants to do is have a customer that, again, is loyal but also is locked in for a period of time, so it's harder for them to potentially change to another solution, or you're offering them such a good deal with various services and integration of services, it's just not in their interest to move to another alternative. So again, that's quite key to the rollout of a fixed wireless access solution. Now, as a mobile service provider, you already have mobile broadband, and what we want to do is we want to deploy a fixed wireless access network.

Now, you may already have the infrastructure, the base stations, and therefore, it's quite a quick turnaround to start adding CPEs, Customer Premises Equipment, into that mix. So we can utilise our existing radio spectrum, our radio network potentially. And we can potentially enhance that to incorporate better fixed wireless access solutions. And that's mainly because the CPEs, the devices, in some cases have certain extra capabilities, better radios, such that they get a better level of performance. And we're now utilising enhancements in 4G and 5G technologies to provide that connectivity.

We will have to think about densification. So a fixed wireless access solution, putting a base station, covering a number of homes, isn't going to be potentially, suitable in five to 10 years. We have to think about the capacity requirements and the increased capacity requirements. And as such, like any mobile service provider, there is an element of densification, more smaller cells to provide more capacity. And that would be the same for residential environments.

The idea is if you have a number of users connected and you start increasing more residential homes, you need more capacity. Now what will happen is we're starting to share that resource. So therefore, we might need to have more base stations. So there are less connected devices per base station.

And that all is about planning and dimensioning of the network. So the word densification applies to that scenario to give more capacity and keep that capacity going as you're potentially attracting more and more consumers.

2024-03-04 15:04

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