Report: Wireless Faces Stiff Competition to Deliver Internet Speeds

For all the talk about people “cutting the cord,” cable maintains a lock on almost half of households’ access to the internet. Mobile wireless came in fourth at 11.7 percent behind fiber to the home (FTTH), 21.3 percent, and digital subscriber lines, 13.1 percent of the market.  Fixed wireless came in fifth with 3.1 percent of the market, according to a report funded by the Fiber Broadband Association. 

But fiber is nipping at cable’s heels with 45 percent faster download and 4.7 times faster upload speeds. Known as the high-cost alternative, fiber has also reduced its cost-per-bit by 90 percent over the past decade, according to “A Detailed Review: The Status of U.S. Broadband and The Impact of Fiber Broadband,” which was authored by RVA LLC Market Research & Consulting. 

“From 2010 to 2022, cable has led, but FTTH is winning where available,” the report reads. “In 2022, at the lower end, 5G fixed wireless/5G mobile is taking share, especially from DSL.” RVA estimates approximately 92 percent of homes have internet access: 77 percent with wired service and 15 percent with wireless service (the majority via mobile phones).

Speeds from wireless (both fixed wireless and mobile wireless used at home) have increased to 50 Mbps and are now clearly surpassing DSL and satellite speeds, but they are well behind FTTH at 200 Mbps and cable at nearly 150 Mbps. 

“It has been a pattern for new wireless technologies to be presented to the media at aspirational speeds for the standard – such as 1 Gbps for 4G or 20 Gbps for 5G. Based on the experience of past wireless generations, tests in optimum laboratory conditions finally reach about 50 percent of the aspirational speed after ten years, and real-world results reach about 10-15 percent of the laboratory speeds after ten years – i.e., only about 5 percent to 8 percent of the aspirational speed even after ten years.”

Other Voices Tout Prospects of FWA

Roslyn Layton, Forbes magazine Senior Contributor International Tech Policy, writes that 5G FWA is a “scalable, cost-efficient high speed” broadband technology, with a wireless connection providing the last mile. “Regulatory advocates and cable providers have maintained that wireless broadband is a supplement, not a substitute, for wireline broadband. However with increasing capacity and competitive prices, consumers find that FWA satisfies their broadband needs,” Layton wrote.

Kevin Ross, Member of the Forbes Technology Council and the founder of WeLink, noted that millimeter wave FWA will cut deployment times, reduce latency and pump internet speeds up to 2 Gbps or higher at a low cost to consumers.

By J. Sharpe Smith, Inside Towers Technology Editor

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