This report examines the potential contribution of reliable fixed wireless and hybrid access. As an established technology, it today principally promises proper performance in well-defined but not market-wide conditions. Broadly speaking, the more remote the user community, the more promising this niche-centric technology. In particular, the opportunities for creating and sustaining an affordable and profitable scenario for both end users and operators in circumstances where there is no broadband are examined.
The report also describes the value of hybrid access as a weapon in the ongoing competition with other operators. In examining several initiatives, special attention is paid to the role of regulation in making such outreach attractive and feasible.
The issue of access is one of spectrum, the report observes, crucial in ensuring its potential.
After reviewing the characteristics of rollouts in six European states, alongside the Americas and East Asia, and mentioning some 50 key players, the report concludes that the hybrid network is “indeed a mid-term alternative to extend copper-line lifetimes and fight competition from cable operators”.
1. Executive Summary
2. Are fixed LTE networks overpromising, or succeeding?
2.1. LTE: a full-featured and ecosystem-backed technology
2.1.1. Fixed wireless is not new
2.1.2. LTE is an undeniably solid technology
2.2. Spectrum availability: a key issue
2.2.1. Frequency bands: Coverage or capacity and throughput?
2.2.2. Which frequency bands for fixed wireless networks?
2.3. LTE as a fixed broadband technology
3. Are hybrid networks too good to be true?
3.1. Fixed wireless networks do have their limitations
3.1.1. Fixed wireless is no longer an ISP exclusive
3.1.2. Fluctuating performance
3.2. A new wave of hybrid offers
3.3. What is LTE and DSL bonding?
3.3.1. Two different technical approaches: Layer 2 or 3 approaches
3.3.2. MPTCP, the future of bonding?
3.3.3. LTE in the unlicensed band(s): What is different?
3.4. Key issues
3.4.1. Form factor and deployment options
3.4.2. Is the ecosystem ready for this?
3.4.3. Where is the technology heading?
3.5. Drivers for fixed/mobile hybrid offers
3.5.1. Bonding legacy broadband and LTE
3.5.2. Bonding VDSL with LTE
3.6. Hybrid offers in the market
4. Is 5G the game changer for broadband access?
4.1. Increased throughputs and options for flexible deployment
4.2. Higher frequency bands means more limited coverage and less reach
4.3. Greater pressure on the backhaul
5.1.1. Rural areas: a potential alternative to costly fibre deployment
5.1.2. Suburban areas: Competition as the main driver for 5G FWA local deployment
5.1.3. Urban areas: 5G FWA is a short-term option, but for mobile users a priority
5.1.4. What is the place for hybrid solutions?
Tables & Figures
Table 1: Understanding the effect on performance by MIMO and order modulation
Table 2: Frequency range and coverage
Table 3: Digital Dividend frequency bands, by ITU Regions
Table 4: Countries where the L-band has already been auctioned in the EU
Table 5: 450 MHz LTE networks worldwide
Table 6: European hybrid DSL-LTE services
Table 7: Hybrid CPE deployment options
Table 8: Operators and vendors involved in commercial hybrid DSL-LTE offers
Table 9: Live hybrid offers in European markets
Table 10: Throughput and link distance at various frequency bands
Table 11: 5G fixed wireless deployment scenarios in rural areas
Table 12: 5G fixed wireless deployment scenarios in suburban areas
Table 13: 5G fixed wireless deployment scenarios in urban areas
Figure 1: The LTE device ecosystem: All 9,544 LTE user devices by form factor, November 2017
Figure 2: Max throughput of commercial LTE networks
Figure 3: Proposed frequency plan for the extension of the 3.5 GHz band for fixed and mobile broadband in France
Figure 4: Estimated development of L-Band ecosystem
Figure 5: Bouygues Telecom 4G Box
Figure 6: 4G download speed evolution during a one-week test in a Belgian rural area
Figure 7: Download speed evolution during a test involving first a UK FTTC connection during three days and a 4G connection during the remaining 4 days
Figure 8: VIAG Interkom 'Genion' homezone offer (1999)
Figure 9: BT Fusion (2005)
Figure 10: Fixed/mobile bonding hybrid
Figure 11: European hybrid offers
Figure 12: Comparison of IP-level congestion vs TCP-level congestion
Figure 13: Performance of LTE-DSL bonding with Intel/Ericsson MPTCP-based solution
Figure 14: The Licensed-Assisted Access principles
Figure 15: LAA brings LTE Gigabit to MNOs lacking spectrum
Figure 16: Two different architectures to provide broadband access in remote areas
Figure 17: Dual-box implementation at home
Figure 18: Minimum throughput required, depending on stream definition
Figure 19: DAE broadband objectives
Figure 20: Broadband coverage in the EU 28, in 2016
Figure 21: Rural NGA coverage
Figure 22: Rural LTE coverage by country
Figure 23: 4G downlink speeds in rural France
Figure 24: A1 ‘Hybrid Power’
Figure 25: The hybrid objectives of DTAG
Figure 26: Magenta Zuhause Hybrid tariffs
Figure 27: Swisscom outdoor unit
Figure 28: Swisscom 2020 broadband technology mix
Figure 29: Swisscom network coverage map 2016 vs. 2021
Figure 30: Performance objectives for 5G and associated use cases
Figure 31: Simulation by Mitsubishi using a 48-element adaptive-phase antenna array using 44 GHz frequency bands and 500 MHz of bandwidth
Figure 32: Verizon 5G fixed wireless plans for 2018
Figure 33: Results of Verizon 5G fixed wireless trials: Download speed results
Figure 34: Performance and spectral efficiency at 37 GHz
Figure 35: Backhaul capacity requirement per radio site for mobile operators
- Bouygues Telecom
- Deutsche Telekom
- European Commission
- Liberty Global
- NTT DOCOMO
- T-Mobile Austria
- Ukko Mobile
- VIAG Interkom