Fixed-wireless access (FWA) is already the darling of the consumer 5G crowd, and a new speed milestone could make it even more compelling.

Swedish kit maker Ericsson and chip maker MediaTek this week laid claim to a record upload speed of 565 Mbps. It was achieved by combining two Ericsson software features – uplink single user multiple input multiple output (SU-MIMO) and uplink carrier aggregation – with MediaTek’s T830 chipset for 5G FWA routers, and three transmit antennas.

In terms of spectrum, they used a 2.1 GHz FDD band in combination with a 3.5 GHz TDD band – two widely-used 5G frequency bands.

Ericsson and MediaTek have been working together to claim various speed records for a while now. In May, they achieved a 440-Mbps upload speed by aggregating low-band and mid-band spectrum. In March, they merged four channels – one FDD and three TDD – to reach a record download speed of 4.36 Gbps. In May 2021, in a trial with Verizon, they brought together the operator’s c-band and millimetre-wave (mmWave) spectrum, notching up 4.3 Gbps.

Regarding this week’s milestone, Ericsson and MediaTek said the set-up lends itself particularly well to FWA because FWA home hubs don’t have the same power and size restrictions compared to say smartphones, so they can accommodate more antennas and use more juice.

When it comes to broadband, the argument that upload speed is less important than download speed – due to most data traffic being downstream traffic rather than upstream traffic – is starting to wear a little thin.

Online gaming continues to grow in popularity, and tends to require a fast, low-latency uplink connection. High-definition user-generated video files are often on the chunky side, and so would benefit from zippy upload speeds. Similarly, other applications like interactive live streaming, cloud storage, and video calling also all take their toll on uplink throughput.

In short: broadband users are increasingly becoming creators of data traffic as much as they are consumers.

It is part of the reason why – on the fixed-line side of the equation – there is a fair amount of excitement about the arrival of XGS-PON because it means that going forward, fibre networks will offer symmetric download and upload speeds.

Mobile needs to keep up, and that includes FWA which, thanks to 5G, has emerged as a credible alternative to fixed-line broadband.

“With this latest solution offering, fixed wireless access subscribers, consumers and businesses alike, can benefit from higher upload speeds for data-heavy applications such as cloud gaming and extended reality,” said Sibel Tombaz, head of product line 5G RAN at Ericsson, in a statement on Thursday.

“Enhancing uplink performance is an essential advantage for 5G FWA devices used by businesses, and this technology breakthrough will further extend the advantage of 5G CPE (customer premises equipment) versus line-based broadband services,” added HC Hwang, general manager of wireless communication system and partnership at MediaTek. “Our collaboration with Ericsson has proved our combined technical capabilities to overcome previous limits, enhancing network performance and efficiency, opening up new possibilities for service providers and consumers to enjoy faster and more reliable 5G data services.”

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