Cord-Cutting for Business Isn't Just for Streaming Anymore | – Spiceworks News and Insights

Are you ready to cut the cord and go for fixed wireless access?

Fed up with your broadband internet provider? Companies looking for greater flexibility and reliability – and faster deployment – are moving from fixed cable or fiber broadband to fixed wireless access, shares Ken Mills, CEO of EPIC iO Technologies.
Internet connectivity is vital for large and small businesses, especially in an era where inflation is rampant and recession looms. Businesses must do all they can to maximize their efficiency. As 4G and 5G wireless have permeated the landscape, many companies have adopted digital transformation strategies, and broadband connectivity is an essential prerequisite. For redundancy, many companies use wireless connectivity as a backup to traditional wireline services, but as 5G wireless becomes dominant, businesses are rethinking their broadband connectivity priorities. 
While wireline connectivity via cable has been a mainstay option for decades, businesses have been disappointed with its cost, reliability and lack of options. At the same time, wireless broadband has become available in most parts of the country. In fact, it’s now becoming more popular to use wireless cellular (or Fixed Wireless Access) as a primary business internet option. Fixed Wireless Access broadband offers greater choice and reliability with lower service costs, and it’s especially attractive for companies with mobile/remote workers, multi-site operations, or that are expanding rapidly.  
See More: A Reality Check on Mobile Private Networks and Private Wireless
Many people think of Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) as a technology that distributes a broadband signal to neighborhoods via millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies operating in spectrum bands between 24 and 40 GHz. Each home or business connected by FWA has a small external antenna/gateway that picks up the signal from a local tower on which the mmWave distribution antenna is mounted. Typically, download speeds in this band can range from 10 to 100 times faster than 4G cellular service. However, as high throughput 5G becomes more prevalent, bandwidth and overall performance are going up, making it a more credible FWA option. 5G can deliver 1 Gbps or more to a subscriber. 
The largest proportion of primary FWA connections will become 5G as carriers deploy it. 5G signals carry much farther than mmWave signals so that carriers can cover an area with fewer distribution antennas. By 2027, mobile infrastructure vendor Ericsson predicts 5G will reach 75% of the world’s population.
There are many reasons why 5G FWA is becoming popular for businesses.
Availability: It’s easier to get a 5G signal than it is to get wired broadband. According to the Strategy&, the consulting arm of PwC, 5G signals were expected to reach 80% of the US population by late 2021. In contrast, fiber passes about 43% of US households, and the cable passes a bit more than 50% of households. 
Reliability: Wireless connections are not susceptible to downtime from construction mishaps, squirrels, ice storms and other factors that regularly bring down wireline connections. When companies set up wireless as a backup communications channel for when the wireline connection goes down, the connection often remains on wireless even after the wireline network comes back up because the wireless signal is better. 
Performance: Not only is wireless connectivity more reliable, but it typically has lower latency, which is a big factor in an age of increasing reliance on videoconferencing applications like Google Hangouts, Teams or Zoom. Better latency translates to clearer video and fewer stalls or buffering. If you’re relying on your employees to have access from home when they’re working remotely, they can have problems getting adequate bandwidth when their kids and spouse are also online at the same time – many homes have four or more devices competing for available bandwidth. FWA bandwidth dedicated to the worker delivers better performance.
Deployment Speed: It can take weeks or months to get a wireline connection, whereas subscribers can have wireless up and running within days. 
Flexibility: For multi-site businesses or those with mobile or remote workers, FWA provides unparalleled flexibility and convenience. Rather than having to negotiate and manage multiple connectivity contracts in multiple locations, companies opting for 5G wireless can partner with solution providers who will manage connectivity for them, so they just get one bill. In addition, some wireless connectivity solution providers offer cross-carrier data pooling, other locations can leverage so unused data from one location.
Security: Wireless connections are more secure. Some providers can deliver a connection from the remote worker all the way back to the company headquarters with full encryption of the signal. Wireline broadband routers aren’t nearly as secure. 
Here are some of the business use cases for 5G FWA.
Mobile workers: Mobile wireless is the only way to connect for outside sales and service personnel, and 5G ensures they’ll have the bandwidth to use any custom or general productivity applications they may need.
Retail locations: 5G FWA delivers higher reliability and better security for store POS systems and other applications.
Branch offices: Connections to branch offices can be established much more quickly with 5G FWA than with cable or other wireline services, and 5G FWA offers better reliability. 
IoT networks: 5G FWA makes connecting sensors, cameras, and control systems to data storage and processing centers much easier.
See More: Connectivity: What To Expect As We Move Into The Future
Availability is the first thing to consider when shopping for 5G FWA for a business. You’ll naturally want to make sure the service is provided in your location, but beyond that, you’ll want to ensure that it can deliver the bandwidth you need. Service providers should offer a no-hassle return policy so you can cancel the service and return the equipment if you don’t get the bandwidth you expect. 
Security is another factor. The service provider or a connectivity solutions provider should be able to ensure that you have end-to-end encryption of your traffic.
Convenience is also important. You want to minimize the number of agreements you need to make. Ideally, you’ll make one agreement with a connectivity solutions provider and let them handle the details of signing up and managing multiple carrier relationships.
Finally, make sure you can pool data across multiple contracts and providers. Not everyone on the network will have the same appetite for uploads and downloads, and you want to be able to collect all of the contracted bandwidth into one bucket and then deliver it to each location as needed.
5G wireless has been deployed more quickly than any other broadband technology. With better reliability, security, and flexibility on tap, we’ll see more and more businesses cutting the cord with their wireline providers and moving to 5G FWA.  
What are your buying considerations for the right FWA solution? Tell us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Image Source: Shutterstock

CEO , EPIC iO Technologies
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