Cable-Operators Adding FWA to Expand Broadband

Increased Network Complexity Creates Need for Comprehensive Visibility

translucent cables with digital data

Reaching more subscribers and more enterprise customers is essential for the growth of cable providers as they compete in today’s highly stratified marketplace. Deployment of 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) technology offers an important addition to cable operators’ set of tools for expanding broadband access. According to a recent market research report, “the global 5G FWA market size is expected to grow from $277 million in 2021 to $150 Billion by 2028, at a CAGR of 135 percent during the forecast period.” 

The marketplace is already familiar with the concept behind 5G FWA, having experimented with an earlier form of this technology called the Local Multipoint Distribution System (LMDS), which was first trialed following the Federal Communications Commission’s auctioning of spectrum in 1998 and 1999. The objective of “wireless cable” was to accelerate broadband access to urban and suburban areas – a goal that remains a priority for many cable, telecom, and mobile providers today. While LMDS was ahead of the technology curve, its cost proved exorbitant, leading to its eventual abandonment by equipment and technology vendors.

Another Important Tool in the Provider’s Toolkit

The introduction of 5G FWA promises to expand broadband access, but with a far more mature and powerful technology than LMDS, and as a result, in a more cost-effective way. In addition to making it possible to deliver broadband access to unserved and underserved areas that lack sufficient technology infrastructure, FWA also presents a more cost-conscious tool for urban areas as well. Instead of having to dig up city streets to lay new cable, then maintain and protect that infrastructure, FWA provides an alternative that is less costly to deploy and support.

Cable operators may consider 5G FWA in instances where only a single fiber provider exists, and the use of this technology thus opens the door to greater choice for subscribers. In areas where copper-based DSL service exists, providers can use FWA to offer higher internet speeds, while at the same time lowering network operation costs.

5G FWA Adds to Network Complexity

Cable operators have an opportunity to add 5G FWA to the mix along with traditional coax, fiber, hybrid coax fiber, Wi-Fi, and now FTTH/FTTX, while also moving services to the cloud. However, as a result, providers are ending up with very complex networks, creating new challenges for network engineering and operations teams.

To ensure the successful operation of these complex networks, operators will require a level of visibly that delivers actual intelligence.  This is needed for assuring the performance of the network, while also providing analytics that are essential for monetizing and securing it. Engineers need this visibility to see where the network is stressed; at the same time, business analysts require insights into what customers are consuming in order to conduct effective planning. And on top of this, visibility is crucial to ensuring that the network is secure.

The multiplicity of technologies at play creates greater network complexity for operations and security teams. The flexible assignment of broadband technologies used to reach customers in different topologies, though more cost-effective from a CAPEX perspective, may increase OPEX costs if a provider doesn’t have the best service assurance, analytics and security tools to manage their complex network. Everything must interoperate, be secure, and enable monetization.

Assuring the quality of services (voice, video and data) is essential. Without effective monitoring of all connections and services - and the ability to facilitate comprehensive analytics and robust security of multi-domain, multi-generation, and multi-technology networks - cable operators risk customer churn. Being able to turn visibility into actionable intelligence is crucial for enabling operations, network planning, business analysts and security teams to effectively manage the network and deliver excellent service for the business.

Monitoring is Key to 5G FWA Success

NETSCOUT’s best-in-class solution provides the extensive network visibility needed to monitor traffic levels and analyze applications for KPIs related to responsiveness, errors, conversations, and service dependencies by market - down to the subscribers. With these insights in hand, cable operators can better manage the complexity of networks that include 5G FWA, thus enabling teams to ensure the security, performance, and quality of service.

Fiber (FTTx) Monitoring for Cable/MSO & Fixed Network Providers | NETSCOUT