Mobile Devices

Fixed wireless access the top use case for 5G, research finds

11 June 2020
Nokia's new study finds 5G fixed wireless access is the most desireable use case for early 5G adoption outside of cellular phone use. Source: Nokia

One of the most important first use cases to emerge from the rollout of 5G technology beyond smartphones is fixed wireless access (FWA), which would serve as a competitor or replacement in the home and business for broadband fiber, cable and DSL.

Nokia recently commissioned a study, conducted by Parks Associates, indicating that outside of cellular, FWA is the most desirable use case among consumers.

FWA is currently offered in lower bands of the wireless spectrum, but as millimeter wave (mmWave), the higher band of the spectrum, becomes ubiquitous, FWA will match or even outpace current broadband bandwidth. FWA could also be used to bring broadband services to remote areas where nothing exists or to places where broadband is extremely limited.

The research found that 76% of the 3,000 respondents in the U.K., U.S. and South Korea regarded FWA as the most appealing use case for 5G, with 66% claiming they would subscribe to 5G FWA if it cost the same as their current broadband service and delivered the same or better performance.

Nokia did the research prior to the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has required workers and students to remain at home. Because video calls have increased in number due to the pandemic, it is likely that consumers might be more keen to adopt FWA for uninterrupted video streams.

In fact, the research found that 90% of consumers rated high-quality video streams as a very valuable aspect of 5G before the pandemic emerged.

“Video has been a bedrock of social interaction and 5G can greatly improve this capability, while social isolation and remote work likely increase appeal for immersive experience applications,” said Josh Aroner, vice president of communication service provider marketing at Nokia. “FWA is an attractive early use case for 5G, especially with remote install, but operators must make an informed decision about how to invest in it and in which geographic location.”

The study found that half of consumers who work from home indicate a strong willingness to switch providers for 5G service and are more likely to purchase a 5G phone.

AR and connected cars

The survey also found that more than one-third of consumers wanted augmented reality experiences for remote commerce even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Nokia said it is likely that this desire has increased with social distancing becoming the norm.

In terms of connected cars, 45% of consumers find navigation and safety capabilities valuable, but that number jumps to 73% among vehicle owners. Among those surveyed, 53% of vehicle owners would be interested in bundling car connectivity with a 5G data plan.

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