Agnes Mends Crentsil

Product Marketing Manager

Last Updated

What is 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA)?

Fixed wireless access (FWA) is a form of broadband access that uses a wireless connection to attach a customer’s premises to the broader internet. FWA uses wireless devices that act like miniature cell towers to connect homes and businesses with high-speed internet service. Because devices are mounted on the roof of a building or a utility pole, they are less expensive to install than fiber optic cable. There’s no need to dig up streets to lay cable.

FWA enables the use of 4G and 5G fixed broadband access using radio frequencies for a faster connection to the internet instead of cable. FWA can be used to connect homes and businesses to the internet.

Why is FWA Important?

FWA plays a key role in new broadband rollouts for interconnecting technologies both in rural areas and in cities by managing problems with network interference and connectivity in support of service quality and end-through-end traffic monitoring. For example, the expansion of smart city technologies will require more FWA.

Carriers see FWA’s expansion as a lucrative opportunity to bring wireless broadband service to suburban and rural communities. It’s the first scalable, revenue-positive 5G use case for Carriers. But to be successful, carriers will need to get the customer experience right by expanding their ability to observe network traffic at highly granular levels. That is because the factors that make FWA scalable also increase the likelihood of competition.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Fixed Wireless Access?

The advantages of employing wireless access are less expensive to deploy with a lower life-cycle cost, flexibility in network design, and faster deployment. A few disadvantages of FWA are constraints on spectrum availability, restrictions on bandwidth per customer, and absence of agreed international standards.

How does FWA technology work?

To achieve FWA a physical based station must be connected to the fixed network and several subscriber units spread over a wide area.  The base station uses radio frequency waves to communicate with the subscriber units and allows consumers to connect and access high-speed data services.

5G Fixed Wireless Access Offers an Important Tool for Expanding Broadband

The deployment of 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) technology offers is a vital addition to cable operators’ a set of cost-effective tools for expanding broadband access to underserved communities and into infrastructure, such as laying new fiber-optic cable.

Although 5G FWA holds promise in reaching underserved communities, it also has some drawbacks. Wireless access points can be subject to interference and reach more limited distances, making it necessary to place them closer together than previous wireless technologies (2G/3G/4G). And because 5G wavelengths can’t penetrate walls, FWA units need line-of-sight connectivity to each other or the tower.

FWA vs Fiber Networks

Fiber Networks are perceived as reliable and high capacity in the industry but, deploying Fiber networks into rural communities requires the consideration of several factors; go to market strategy, cost, latency, ease of installation, security and much more. Because of its performance consistency, FWA is more dependable and boosts a far lower deployment cost than Fiber. Consideration can be given to using both technologies in a hybrid infrastructure, using Fiber for backbone structure, and FWA for connectivity in certain instances, achieving benefits specific to each deployment use case.

5G FWA Network Challenges

With 4G/5G and emerging networks, the amount of traffic that carriers may need to monitor is staggering. Mobile networks may potentially exceed capacities over 50 TB/s in the next few years. And that traffic includes everything from video to voice, to text messages, to applications. Networks are becoming more complex, exacerbating the challenges of visibility and observability even as carriers need more of it.

Monitoring and managing user plane traffic is crucial to avoid service failures. With a transition to 5G comes increased virtualization and software-defined networks. MNOs need support analytics and security across networks of varying domains, generations, and technologies.

NETSCOUT Offerings

NETSCOUT’s best-in-class software-based end-through-end monitoring solution provides the extensive network visibility needed to observe traffic levels and analyze applications for key performance indicators (KPIs) related to responsiveness, errors, conversations, user experience, and service dependencies by market—all the way down to the subscriber level. With these insights in hand, technology partners can better manage the complexity of networks that include 5G FWA, enabling teams to ensure the security, performance, and quality of service.

Learn More:

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

NETSCOUT 5G offerings