Yesterday, I noted that AT&T’s 2017 roadmap includes fixed wireless 5G trials. Such trials and early rollouts of 5G likely will lean heavily of fixed wireless, since it’s easier to hit a stationary target. The hard stuff, such as delivering 5G to a device speeding along the highway, can be saved for later.
That doesn’t mean that fixed wireless is not already out in the field and, in some cases, making money and serving real subscribers. The great attractions of the technique are those of wireless in general: No streets need to be dug up. The economics of fixed wireless improve as the coverage area’s footprint becomes less dense.
Today, WirelessWeek reported that U.S. Cellular is moving on non-5G fixed wireless; CEO Kenneth Meyers said at an investor conference that it will continue fixed wireless testing that it began last year with Nokia. A comment from Meyers indicates that the sweet spot for the service may be in rural areas where “the cable footprint stops.”
Despite the fact that both AT&T and U.S. Cellular are in test mode regarding fixed wireless, it’s already a very much proven technology. Starry and Rise Broadband are two good examples.
Starry, which is in its early stages, said last month that it has raised another $30 million. That brings the total to $63 million. Some of the firms invested in both rounds.
The company was founded by Chaitanya Kanojia, who also founded Aereo. The earlier company was put out of business by a Supreme Court ruling in June, 2014, that said its approach of using the internet to provide over-the-air television signals without broadcaster permission violated copyright law.
The story says that the Starry is testing in a Charleston, Massachusetts apartment building. Plans include commercial services in Boston during the first quarter of this year and in other cities by the end of the year.
Last month, Rise Broadband, which says it is the nation’s largest fixed wireless provider of internet and phone services, said that it is expanding its service in the Sioux City, Iowa area and will offer speeds as fast as 50 megabits per second (Mbps). The company provides fixed wireless services in 16 states in the midwest, Rocky Mountain and southwest regions.
Fixed wireless has a great value proposition: It is inherently less expensive, less troublesome to deploy, and quicker to market than wired platforms. That makes it a good platform for today – and tomorrow.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at [email protected] and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.