Consumer fixed wireless (FWA) access growth using 5G networks has been one of the bright spots of the move to the new cellular standard. Both T-Mobile and Verizon in the United States have seen success offering the latest wireless technology to replace cable internet for the public stateside and it is spreading across the world. 

The reason? It’s usually a bit cheaper and not substantially slower than cable, good enough for 99% of what the general public wants internet for.

So could FWA also serve small and medium businesses in place of cable – or even (shudder) copper – in some urban, suburban and rural areas across the world in the same manner? Cradlepoint and others some others are certainly intending for that to be the case.

A different kind of X box

Cradlepoint, an enterprise-focused division of Ericsson, is hoping its latest box, the X10 5G router, ups its profile among potential small and medium business (SMB) FWA customers.

Kelley Dorsey, VP of corporate communications at the Cradlepoint unit told Fierce Wireless at the recent Mobile World Congress (MWC) that, “FWA for the business is really an untapped market for many of our carriers,” indicating that around 90% of the FWA market now is focused on consumers.

So, what Cradlepoint has announced is the X10, which is a relay box that small businesses can use to get on the internet quickly. This will offer some quality-of-service features, as well as SD-WAN features. As well as potentially supporting network slicing as operators start to support that functionality.

Clearly, this will put mobile operators directly in competition with Comcast and other cable providers that are supplying internet access to SMBs – for now, it’s just the mobile and cable operators clashing over the cellular providers trying to eat cable’s consumer lunch. Just as cable players try to outflank cellular providers with their mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) ventures.

All’s fair in the ongoing battle between cellular and cable!

Vendors speak on FWA

While not directly in the enterprise FWA game right now, vendors like Dell and Samsung certainly see the case for it as FWA in general grows.

“It’s been fascinating, we’re seeing the FWA needs increase,” Andrew Vaz VP of product management in the telecom business at Dell commented. “Definitely we’ve seen massive growth in that segment,” he said, noting expansion in areas such as the middle east, as well as the U.S.

Samsung certainly does already supply 5G FWA systems for operators. ”It’s an interesting approach,” commented director of marketing, Kali Pickens at Samsung. “I think that operators and maybe the whole industry are thinking about how to monetize [FWA].”

This has obviously already started with widespread consumer FWA. Maybe, the next stage in the FWA story, however, is building simple FWA boxes for SMB customers and a wider look into the enterprise applications.

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