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How to Deploy Dense Urban Fixed Wireless Access Profitably

33% of your customers are going to leave you for a service provider that delivers higher speeds[1]. So delivering gigabit services to all of your customers, including the single family homes, is a must.

The challenge with SFUs is getting the service from the fiber drop to the home. It’s a short distance that covers front yards and other city spaces citizens don’t like dug up for a fiber deployment. That’s why all the major operators are talking about 5G fixed wireless access. A network that extends the existing fiber and covers the drop-to-home piece while deliver the same user experience – reliability and capacity – that the fiber plant does. Let’s take a look at a typical residential neighborhood in a dense urban area:

Figure 1:Urban residential deployment scenario

To give a sense of distance, the following figures draw different coverage radius of the base unit:

As easily can be seen here, potentially, all the homes within the BU coverage become home passed.

The economic benefits are obvious. From the GIS analysis of the LiDAR data, the BU with 200 meters radius, in this particular location can cover roughly 6 blocks, which is equal to 300 homes. Being more practical, we’ll consider just 2 nearest blocks. Performing automated LoS analysis, 81 out of 94 homes have LoS from the BU location, which is 86%.

Figure 2: 200 meters coverage

Our V-band PtMP system is based on well-established and mature ecosystem and leverages the cost advantages of the consumer technology. Its cost structure even for this conservative design will bring the cost per home passed to a few tens of dollars. V-band spectrum is easily accessible and doesn’t require any upfront investments to get frequency license. So, for even small take rates, the ROI of this project is just a few months. This technology is so cost effective, that it can provide real broadband connectivity to underserved areas and serve as an ultimate solution for the digital divide problem.

In terms of performance, a millimeter wave access point which is composed of several base unit sectors, (each covers 90 degrees), can provide – right now – multi gigabit aggregated access capacity. Therefore, all the users can experience real gigabit speeds with oversubscription lower than in typical GPON installation.

Now, that the economic benefits of this solution are clear, let’s think about the speed of deployment. With this fixed wireless access technology, a new client can be connected to the service instantly! All the SP needs to do is add a terminal unit in the coverage area, there is no need for precise alignment. The data connection and power are provided in a single cable using PoE and the terminal unit connected directly to the home router using a standard Ethernet connection. The cost of adding a new customer becomes negligible.

Figure 3: 300 meters radius coverage

Increasing the coverage radius to 300 meters, will increase the number of homes passed even more, further reducing the $/home passed. However, from our field experience, the main limiting factor in dense urban scenarios will be the line of sight, but it definitely will be beneficial in sub-urban and less denser areas.

Trying to cover this area with fiber will be very costly, and make it almost impossible to get a positive ROI on single family homes. Every single one of those homes will need a strand of fiber from the drop to the home. The ambitious Google Fiber project reversed its intention to deliver Gigabit services over an all fiber network, and took the Hybrid Fiber Wireless approach. They acquired wireless ISP Webpass, and are rapidly expanding its service to additional cities like Denver, CO, San Diego CA, Miami, FL and others[2].

When examining wireless alternatives, sub-6GHz systems are also under consideration. However, sub-6 is hard-pressed to provide reliable broadband connection in dense deployments since they operate over wide beams and are prone to interference, both from Wi-Fi and other systems that operate in the same frequency.

Millimeter waves deliver both deployment speeds and high ROI per sector. The business case should make it easy for even smaller ISPs to branch out and provide single family homes with gigabit services.

Click here to learn more about our 5G fixed wireless solution.


[1] 33% of subscribers asked why they switch cited higher speeds or higher download rates as the reason according to a UK survey and a US analysis of consumer data



By Boris Maysel, Head of Business Development, Siklu

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