The cable cutter for business isn’t just for streaming anymore
Tired of your broadband internet service provider? Enterprises looking for greater flexibility and reliability – and faster deployment – move from fixed cable or fiber broadband to fixed wireless access, share Ken Mills, CEO of EPIC iO Technologies.
Internet connectivity is vital for businesses large and small, especially at a time of rampant inflation and looming recession. Companies must do everything possible to maximize their efficiency. As 4G and 5G wireless have permeated the landscape, many businesses have embraced digital transformation strategies, and high-speed connectivity is an essential prerequisite. For redundancy, many companies use wireless connectivity as a fallback to traditional wired services, but as 5G wireless becomes mainstream, companies are rethinking their broadband connectivity priorities.
While wired cable connectivity has been a go-to option for decades, businesses have been disappointed with its cost, reliability, and lack of options. At the same time, wireless broadband became available in most parts of the country. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly popular to use cellular wireless (or fixed wireless access) as your primary business Internet option. Broadband fixed wireless access offers greater choice and reliability with lower service costs, and is particularly attractive for businesses with mobile/remote workers, multi-site operations, or rapidly expanding.
Learn more: A Reality Check on Mobile Private Networks and Private Wireless
5G and fixed wireless access
Many people think of Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) as a technology that distributes a broadband signal to neighborhoods via millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies operating in spectrum bands between 24 and 40 GHz. Every home or business connected by FWA has a small external antenna/gateway that picks up the signal from a local tower on which the mmWave distribution antenna is mounted. Typically, download speeds in this band can range from 10 to 100 times faster than 4G cellular service. However, as high-speed 5G becomes more widespread, overall bandwidth and performance increases, making it a more credible FWA option. 5G can deliver 1 Gbps or more to a subscriber.
The largest proportion of primary FWA connections will become 5G as carriers deploy it. 5G signals carry much farther than mmWave signals so operators can cover an area with fewer distribution antennas. By 2027, mobile infrastructure provider Ericsson predicts that 5G will reach 75% of the world’s population.
Why 5G FWA?
There are many reasons why 5G FWA is becoming popular for business.
Availablity: It’s easier to get a 5G signal than to get wired broadband. According to Strategy&, the consulting arm of PwC, 5G signals are expected to reach 80% of the US population by the end of 2021. In contrast, fiber goes through about 43% of US homes, and cable goes through just over 50. % Household.
Reliability: Wireless connections are not susceptible to interruptions from construction accidents, squirrels, ice storms, and other factors that regularly interrupt wired connections. When companies set up wireless as a backup communication channel in case the wired connection fails, the connection often remains wireless even after the wired network is restored because the wireless signal is better.
Performance: Not only is wireless connectivity more reliable, but it generally has lower latency, which is an important factor in an age of growing reliance on video conferencing apps like Google Hangouts, Teams, or Zoom. Better latency translates to clearer video and fewer dropouts or buffering. If you rely on your employees to access from home when working remotely, they may have problems getting adequate bandwidth when their children and spouse are also online at the same time – many homes have four devices or more competing for bandwidth availability. FWA bandwidth dedicated to the worker provides better performance.
Deployment Speed: It can take weeks or months to get a wired connection, while subscribers can have a working wireless connection within days.
Flexibility: For multi-site businesses or those with mobile or remote workers, FWA offers unparalleled flexibility and convenience. Rather than having to negotiate and manage multiple connectivity contracts in multiple locations, businesses opting for 5G wireless can partner with solution providers who will manage connectivity for them, so they only receive one invoice. Additionally, some wireless connectivity solution providers offer data pooling between carriers, other locations can leverage unused data from a single location.
Security: Wireless connections are more secure. Some providers can provide a connection from the teleworker to corporate headquarters with full signal encryption. Wired broadband routers are not as secure.
5G FWA Use Cases
Here are some of the commercial use cases of 5G FWA.
Mobile workers: Mobile wireless is the only way to connect for sales and field service personnel, and 5G ensures they will have the bandwidth to use any custom or general productivity apps they might need.
Points of sale: 5G FWA provides greater reliability and security for retail point-of-sale systems and other applications.
Branches: Connections to branch offices can be established much faster with 5G FWA than with cable or other wired services, and 5G FWA offers better reliability.
IoT networks: 5G FWA makes it much easier to connect sensors, cameras, and control systems to data storage and processing centers.
Learn more: Connectivity: what to expect as we head into the future
Availability is the first thing to consider when purchasing a 5G FWA for a business. You’ll naturally want to make sure the service is provided in your area, but beyond that you’ll want to make sure it can deliver the bandwidth you need. Service providers should offer a no-hassle return policy so you can cancel service and return equipment if you don’t get the bandwidth you expect.
Security is another factor. The service provider or a connectivity solution provider should be able to guarantee that you have end-to-end encryption of your traffic.
Convenience is also important. You want to minimize the number of deals you need to make. Ideally, you’ll enter into an agreement with a connectivity solution provider and let them handle the details of signing up and managing relationships with multiple carriers.
Finally, make sure you can aggregate data from multiple contracts and vendors. Not everyone on the network will have the same appetite for uploads and downloads, and you want to be able to collect all contracted bandwidth into a bucket and then deliver it to each location as needed.
Cut the rope
5G wireless has been deployed faster than any other broadband technology. With improved reliability, security and flexibility, we will see more and more companies cut the cord with their wireline service providers and move to 5G FWA.
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