Wireless & Mobile Landscape

U.S. Fixed Wireless Deployment Cost Estimate: Finding the niches

Fixed wireless is one of several options for providing broadband Internet access to the home and small business. The fixed wireless access market has heated up over the last 18 months. There are two reasons for this:

  • Rapid progress on 5G standards defined as 3GPP Release 15 (Rel-15) and the subsequent releases which will deliver additional 5G features and functions.
  • Need for spectrum which is driven both by ever-increasing mobile data demand but also the capabilities of 5G which will eventually deliver mobile networks capable of 1 Gbps throughput and millisecond latencies.

There are two broad spectrum categories that will likely see the first “5G” fixed wireless broadband implementations:

  • Mid-band: the spectrum bands between 2.3 GHz and approximately 6 GHz
  • mmWave: examples of the millimeter wave bands include: 24 GHz, 28 GHz, 29 GHz, 31 GHz, 39 GHz, 60 GHz and 70 GHz.

The cost model presented in this report essentially builds on several assumptions regarding feasibility and costs to estimate how much it might cost to deploy mid-band-based and mmWave-based services, using a Massive MIMO antenna system, to households and/or businesses.


Key Questions Answered

  • What is millimeter wave?
  • How will mid-band spectrum be used?
  • What are the likely cell radius for the various frequencies?
  • Why is millimeter wave important? How is it being used? How can it be used?
  • How are Massive MIMO and mmWave related?
  • What are the pros and cons to deploying mmWave? What are the challenges?
  • How much might it cost to deploy mid-band-based and mmWave-based services?
  • How do the costs vary for different deployment scenarios?
  • How do costs vary for various household adoption rates and population densities?
  • How do costs vary between 3GPP-compliant and non-3GPP compliant technologies?

Who Should Read

  • Mobile operators
  • Microwave spectrum holders and operators
  • Fixed wireless solution vendors
  • Financial analysts and investors.

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Executive Summary
  • Methodology
  • Overview of Fixed Wireless
  • Mid-Band Spectrum
    • mmWave
    • FWA Deployment Options
    • MIMO
    • 3GPP versus Non-3GPP FWA
    • Summary
  • Underpinnings of the Fixed Wireless Cost Model
    • Next Steps
  • Inputs for the FWA Cost Model
    • Estimated Costs of FWA per Household
    • Cost of FWA When Leasing Tower Space
    • Cost of FWA When Building Towers/Poles
  • Summary
  • Definitions
  • About iGR
    • Disclaimer

List of Tables

  • Table 1: Population-Weighted Density in Metro Statistical Areas by distance from City Hall and Population Size Category, 2010
  • Table 2: Population Density and Households per Ring, MSA of 5 million or more
  • Table 3: Estimated Towers Needed to Cover each Ring at 400m, 700m and 1000m Radii 16
  • Table 4: Projected Household Uptake per Tower per Ring at 400m
  • Table 5: Projected Households per Tower per Ring at 30% Uptake
  • Table 6: Projected Households per Tower per Ring at 70% Uptake
  • Table 7: Cost Assumptions for mmWave, 3GPP-based FWA system
  • Table 8: Cost Assumptions for Mid-band, 3GPP-based FWA system
  • Table 9: Cost Assumptions for mmWave, Non-3GPP-based FWA system
  • Table 10: Cost Assumptions for Mid-band, Non-3GPP-based FWA system
  • Table 11: Cost per HH, 3GPP-based, Leasing Tower Space @30% HH Uptake
  • Table 12: Cost per HH, 3GPP-based, Leasing Tower Space @70% HH Uptake
  • Table 13: Cost per HH, Non 3GPP-based, Leasing Tower Space @30% HH Uptake
  • Table 14: Cost per HH, Non 3GPP-based, Leasing Tower Space @70% HH Uptake
  • Table 15: Cost per HH, 3GPP-based, Building Towers/Poles @30% HH Uptake
  • Table 16: Cost per HH, 3GPP-based, Building Towers/Poles @70% HH Uptake
  • Table 17: Cost per HH, Non-3GPP-based, Building Towers/Poles @30% HH Uptake
  • Table 18: Cost per HH, Non-3GPP-based, Building Towers/Poles @70% HH Uptake
  • Definitions Table

List of Charts and Figures

  • Figure A: Overview of FWA Cost Model’s Findings, Leasing Tower Space
  • Figure 1: U.S. Population-Weighted density by metro statistical areas, 2010
  • Figure 2: Population-Weighted Density in Metro Statistical Areas by distance from City Hall and Population Size Category, 2010
  • Figure 3: Estimated Households per Ring, MSA of 5 million or more
  • Figure 4: Estimated Towers Needed to Cover each Ring at 400m, 700m and 1000m Radii
  • Figure 5: Projected Household Uptake per Tower per Ring at 400m
  • Figure 6: Projected Households per Tower per Ring at 30% Uptake
  • Figure 7: Projected Households per Tower per Ring at 70% Uptake
  • Figure 8: Cost per HH, 3GPP-based, Leasing Tower Space @30% HH Uptake
  • Figure 9: Cost per HH, 3GPP-based, Leasing Tower Space @70% HH Uptake
  • Figure 10: Cost per HH, Non 3GPP-based, Leasing Tower Space @30% HH Uptake
  • Figure 11: Cost per HH, Non 3GPP-based, Leasing Tower Space @70% HH Uptake
  • Figure 12: Cost per HH, 3GPP-based, Building Towers/Poles @30% HH Uptake
  • Figure 13: Cost per HH, 3GPP-based, Building Towers/Poles @70% HH Uptake
  • Figure 14: Cost per HH, Non-3GPP-based, Building Towers/Poles @30% HH Uptake
  • Figure 15: Cost per HH, Non-3GPP-based, Building Towers/Poles @70% HH Uptake
  • Figure 16: Overview of FWA Cost Model’s Findings, Leasing Tower Space
  • Figure 17: The Sweet Spot for FWA

For additional information on the U.S. Fixed Wireless Deployment Cost Estimate: Finding the niches market study, please contact Iain Gillott, at (512) 263-5682 or by email.