Wi-Fi recently marked its 20th anniversary. The modern digital lifestyles rely on Wi-Fi so heavily, it is hard to imagine life before or without it. Our usage is spread across various aspects of our life like working, connecting with friends and family, doing homework, streaming shows and more. By 2022, there will be 4,8 billion Internet users and 28,5 billion connected devices. That is an average of 5,9 devices per user, according to Cisco’s VNI Forecast. With all the connected devices and services we use every day, our demands for higher-speed broadband service have skyrocketed.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s 2019 Broadband Deployment Report, 98,3% of the American population in urban areas had a connection of at least 25 Mbps (download speed)/3 Mbps (upload speed) service. However, this is the FCC’s current speed benchmark as of year-end 2017. This speed is generally considered the basic package by most Internet service providers.
Video and data-heavy applications continue to be of enormous demand in today’s home, as total Internet video traffic globally is expected to grow to 82% of all Internet traffic in 2022. This growth is expected to drive increasing needs for higher broadband service beyond the basic speed. In addition, 26% of Americans in rural areas still lacked the coverage of speed benchmarks. Considering the size of the country and the cost and complexity of traditional fibre network deployment, delivering high-speed Internet across the US has been challenging. Fixed wireless access (FWA) has recently gained momentum among service providers as a means to deliver high-speed broadband services in urban and rural areas, as well as to close the digital divide.
FWA using wireless technologies can provide fibre-like broadband access to cover the last mile to the customer premises. A FWA base station transmits data over millimetre-wave and/or unlicenced wireless medium to a receiver unit installed on the building rooftop or single-family home. The data then transmits from the receiver to a router inside the home. FWA is an ideal solution to bring broadband connectivity to both urban and rural areas and provide different tiers of broadband service suitable for the region, without the pain and cost of fixed-line installation.
Wi-Fi-based solutions have been used for FWA leveraging mass market chipsets. ON Semiconductor’s QSR10G-AX (Wi-Fi 6) and QSR10G (Wi-Fi 5) solutions support up to 10 Gbps speed, 8x8 MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) and advanced multi-user MIMO, delivering the maximum capacity, resulting in superior performance in dense environments. Using new Wi-Fi 6 enhancements, such as OFDMA (orthogonal frequency-division multiple access), 160 MHz channel and 1024-QAM, higher network capacity and better performance can be achieved.
To meet the ever-growing consumer demand for higher bandwidth across regions, Wi-Fi-based FWA has become a very attractive option for operators to extend their broadband networks with value-added services by either upgrading or complementing existing fixed-line infrastructure. The Wi-Fi-based solutions are more flexible and cost-optimised because the same Wi-Fi chipset type can be used for an FWA base station as well as a home gateway.
OEMs can save on research and development investment across a common Wi-Fi platform for both sets of products. The fibre-like capabilities can address dense urban markets and rural areas using millimetre-wave bands and/or unlicenced bands.
Riding on the wave of Wi-Fi 6 technology advancement and market scale, FWA networks can deliver significant cost-performance advantage and time to market. End consumers in unserved or underserved areas will be able to get faster Internet speed at a more reasonable price to enjoy streaming high-definition videos, online gaming and other Internet services at home.
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