Will 5G FWA Be the Beginning of the End for Fibre?

It’s the debate that is ringing in ears of the telecoms industry – will the advances of 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) mark the beginning of the end for fibre? Telecoms network specialists, Comvergent, explain that it’s not as simple as ‘A or B’.

Mr Garston also explains that fibre has the “first mover advantage” meaning in a lot of cases, it may already be in place by the time the commercial 5G rollout comes about;


“Fibre-based operators are already signing up customers for high bandwidth, premium services way ahead of 5G availability and, provided the cost of the future fibre-based service remains competitive, there may be no compelling reason to change to 5G FWA.”


With this increased flexibility and the option of 5G and/or fibre for the final mile, Mr Garston explains how, now more than ever, the end user is firmly positioned in the driver’s seat;


“With more options, comes a greater end-user advantage; where there is fibre available, 5G FWA would need to provide an attractive alternative proposition, which could lead to the cost of both solutions coming down in price for the consumer. And where fibre is too costly to implement, for example in a rural area, there is an effective alternative solution to provide quality connectivity to user – the consumer is benefitting either way.”


This reliable connectivity is no longer a consumer ‘nice to have’; it is now considered an essential commodity, and in line with the Government’s digital strategy and the advancements in IoT, the standard of these expectations are only going to grow, as Mr Garston explains;


“The possibilities that come with digitilisation are both endless and exciting; no business or community wants to miss out on that, or be left behind, which is why finding the most cost-effective connectivity solution is so imperative.”


“In my view, is it less significant whether that final mile solution is fibre, 5G, or a converged network made up of both of technologies; what is important, is that there is a solution in place which offers all consumers a high bandwidth connection wherever they are – the solution itself will naturally be one that finds the right balance of cost, quality and reliability”.


Whether 5G FWA will replace fibre within the final mile may provide the basis for an interesting technological debate, but the reality is far more complex.

In scenarios where fibre is cost-prohibitive to implement, 5G FWA will provide a real alternative for consumers. In scenarios where both 5G and fibre are available, the wireless technology, which benefits from being part of the 5G 3GPP specification and its associated economies of scale in the supply chain, is likely to be offered at competitive prices, providing consumers with an attractive alternative. The question of 5G or fibre then comes down to a matter of choice, based largely on price.