Even as new programs created by the recently enacted Infrastructure Act promise to establish mostly fiber-fed broadband services in so far unserved areas, many rural areas may soon enjoy another new experience: broadband competition. A wireless industry -commissioned report claims that about half of U.S. rural homes will soon be able to order 5G fixed wireless is making the case that 5G-based fixed wireless access (FWA) could be a useful alternative in some rural areas.
CTIA commissioned Accenture to write “5G Fixed Wireless Broadband: Helping Close the Digital Divide in Rural America.” According to the report, “Accenture estimates that wireless providers’ 5G FWA deployment could serve up to nearly half of America’s rural households, with at least one new 5G FWA provider serving each of those communities.”
The report praises the $65 billion the Infrastructure Act directs toward closing the digital divide, but at the same time says that some of that some of the spending should go toward FWA. “It is key to acknowledge that 5G FWA is a future-proof technology that has the potential to offer better economics and speed of deployment,” it said. “The advancements in 5G fundamentally enhance the viability of wireless as a home broadband solution.”
CTIA/Accenture also note that fixed wireless connections will be important for other functions outside the home. In an example looking at the 16th Illinois congressional district (currently held by House Communications Subcommittee member Adam Kinzinger [R]}, the report estimates 5G FWA would reach 51 percent of homes “and the district’s agriculture and manufacturing sectors [would] stand to capitalize with 5G FWA connectivity advancing those sectors' embrace of new technologies and use cases.”
The FCC’s Precision Agriculture Connectivity Task Force soon expects to release a report outlining its findings over two years of investigation into how to bring connectivity to unserved rural areas. The importance of 5G networks for sensors, remote control and other connected devices is likely to be a topic in the findings.