Fixed Wireless Searches for Broadband Niche

Worldwide revenues from broadband wireless will reach $42 billion in five years, according to a study by ARC Group.

The study, “Broadband Access: Opportunities in Fixed Wireless,” found that the fixed wireless access market will quickly expand beyond Europe and the US to all regions of the world. By 2005, Europe will account for approximately $11 billion, the US for $9 billion, and the rest of the world $22 billion.

This expansive growth will not be without its problems, according to the researchers. Many of the broadband deployments used today are inflexible, and will cause last-mile bottlenecks.

The demand for broadband Internet access is being spurred on by rich media applications, said Tony Crabtree, ARC Group analyst.

“High-quality, multi-channel, two-way video is rapidly becoming all pervading and will soon contribute to the demand for higher capacity Internet access, and for networks capable of providing true bandwidth on demand,” Crabtree said.

Crabtree believes that fixed wireless systems will increasingly become a key feature of the access landscape, with lower frequency systems catering for the mass market, and higher frequency systems being deployed at the top end.

The report also said that broadband wireless offers a unique combination of flexibility and high performance unmatched by other high bandwidth access technologies.

“High-speed, high-capacity coupled with true flexibility and scalability are the key features that are proving to be attractive to both service providers and end-users. The ability to rapidly deploy networks, whilst avoiding the complexity and restrictions of operating in the local loop, is also a huge plus point,” Crabtree said.

A report by Ovum found that wireless local loop is fast becoming the favored option for new entrants to the broadband market because it allows operators without an existing customer base to build a network without without paying interconnect fees or digging.

According to eMarketer, the number of fixed wireless subscribers will grow to 3.86 million by 2003, a 1,500 percent increase from the 230,000 users projected at the end of 2000.

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