Blog · 22 Jan 2021

Pushing the boundaries of 5G with global Fixed Wireless Access

In a global first, we’re deploying 5G Fixed Wireless Access outside our domestic market in multiple countries for an international retailer.

It’s not often you can pinpoint the moment one technology begins to eclipse another, but we’re in one of those moments right now, with 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA).

For certain specific business use cases, we’re witnessing a step change from wired internet connectivity to wireless.

FWA itself isn’t new. Via 4G, it’s been around for some time now, using cellular connectivity to create an internet connection in a fixed location. Typically, it’s the go-to choice for remote locations where a wired broadband connection isn’t viable, and it’s an effective backup method for businesses wanting to increase their resilience. But there’s a fundamental problem with the reliability of 4G connections and they don’t always offer the download speeds or latency levels that businesses are looking for.

5G FWA is a game changer in the right circumstances. 5G can offer a huge increase in bandwidth and latency levels that rival those of fixed line broadband. So not only does 5G FWA eclipse 4G FWA, it creates a greater number of situations where businesses will rely upon wireless instead of wired connections. MPLS services, which have historically connected businesses, can take six months to install, so despite the security and performance advantages they do not meet the business needs for some sites. We’re now at the point where you can get the performance sites need, with the added advantage of being self-installed and available instantly through 5G FWA.

One of the main use cases for 5G FWA right now is in retail, when businesses need connectivity for pop-up stores, whether in a stand-alone site or for a concession within a larger store. Or in urban buildings that need connectivity quickly. It can be up and running in less than a week, bypassing the need to tap into a wired network completely. Businesses are finding the increased bandwidths of 5G FWA a real plus, too, as they’re opening up new opportunities, such as providing guest wi-fi and internet of things functionality.

So far, however, 5G use cases like these have been based on the 5G provider’s own service, which was only available in their own country – bringing limitations for global enterprises. It’s been a stumbling block, holding back many organisations who would like to embrace 5G, but would need to be able to use it across their international locations. Up until now, the only option has been an extremely complex process, involving working through the difficulties of providing a new technology with a different organisation in every country.

We’ve managed to solve this problem, completing the first multi-country global 5G solution. Our high-street retail client wanted to support pop-up concession stores in a range of different countries with capabilities that 4G just couldn’t provide, starting in Australia, with locations in the US, the Netherlands and the UK following shortly. We stepped in with a 5G proof of concept that works internationally, supplying the functionality our client wanted with the flexibility to stand it up wherever they need it. They considered the trial a resounding success.

And, as with all the leaps in innovation we make, we’ve considered the security implications from every angle. Most of the security requirements for secure business and personal communications over 4G remain the same for 5G. But what does change is the way we deliver that security. That’s why finding ways to provide security that can accommodate the speed and interactive nature of 5G technology is at the heart of our innovation in this space.

We’re committed to being a pioneer in 5G, pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved and propelling 5G from use case to everyday reality. The implications of this international use case reach far beyond retail, marking the beginning of easy global fixed wireless access for any business. Remember this moment; this is when 5G FWA began to eclipse wired access.

If you’d like to find out how 5G FWA could support your business internationally, get in touch with your account manager.