The Future of Fixed Access: A Techno-Economic Comparison of Wired and Wireless Options to Help MSO Decision Process (2018)

By Jean-Philippe Joseph, Amit Mukhopadhyay, Ashok Rudrapatna, Carlos Urrutia-Valdés & Tom Van Caenegem, Bell Labs Consulting, Nokia

Recent major advances in centimeter/millimeter wave, massive Multiple In Multiple Out (MIMO) antennas, beam forming, hybrid radio technologies, and new systems such as 5th Generation (5G)wireless, Wireless Gigabit (WiGig) have accelerated Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) solutions to become an alternative to wired solutions such as Hybrid-Fiber Coax (HFC), fiber, and copper for providing ultra broadband access to residences and small to medium-sized businesses. Innovative spectrum solutions that include unlicensed and shared regime, besides the licensed spectrum, further enhance the attractiveness of FWA. These advances have facilitated both gigabit per-second service for high-end subscribers in metropolitan areas as well as tens of megabits per-second peak service in lower housing density and rural areas at competitive costs. Prior to these advances, FWA was a viable solution only in providing lower data rate services in certain niche markets, such as rural and in developing countries.

However, FWA, even with the recent advances, will not be a solution of choice for all end-user requirements, nor in all usage scenarios. This paper provides a techno-economic analysis comparing different FWA and wired technologies including HFC, fiber, and copper under different deployment scenarios to establish the relative “Zones of Advantages” for each solution. It identifies the optimal technology of choice for a given deployment, considering factors such as throughput requirements, household densities, morphology, deployment conditions, take rates, capital and operational expenses (CapEx and OpEx).

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