Expectations are high for the fixed wireless customer premises equipment (CPE) market, primarily driven by the exponential growth in the number of 5G devices. Recent data gathered by the GSA reflects this optimism, reinforcing the buoyancy that operators have been exhibiting regarding Fixed Wireless Access (FWA).
Data analysis by the GSA unveils that in terms of year-on-year growth, 5G FWA CPE shipments more than doubled to reach 7.4 million in 2022. Projecting forward, the expectation for 2023 is astronomical growth of 86% to reach 13.8 million units.
However, caution has been advised while drawing comparisons from these statistics as the participating respondents and sample size from the annual FWA CPE vendor survey may vary. Of note, this year’s survey conducted among 27 companies, despite these constraints, represents a significant portion of the market for 3GPP-based 4G and 5G FWA devices.
The potential contribution of 5G devices to the market is also expected to increase in the current year from 29% to 40%, according to the GSA. It should be noted that the mmWave-capable devices within the 5G bracket are also expected to enjoy rapid growth, with predictions of a rise in excess of 70%.
If we turn our lens to the total market, the influence of 5G CPE growth is undeniably strong. The GSA survey indicates an upward trend in overall FWA CPE shipments, up 12% to 25.5 million units in the past year, fueled by the exponential growth in battery-powered pocket routers. Expectations remain high for the indoor and outdoor CPE market with further uplift of 31% predicted in the coming year.
The tell-tale statistics from the GSA survey echoes the rest of the industry’s buzz about the evident potential of the 5G FWA market. Numerous communications operators are tapping into the burgeoning potential, with telcos remaining the champions, accounting for an estimated 77% of CPE shipments, a significant bump up from 70% in 2022.
The United States has stormed ahead in this area, with many carriers, such as Verizon and AT&T, utilizing FWA as a means to cash in on the 5G boom, and all major operators now promoting FWA-powered home broadband services.
These optimistic forecasts are supported by statistics shared by the Leichtman Research Group. The research showed a combined net addition of almost 900,000 5G FWA by T-Mobile and Verizon in last year’s second quarter. These additions outpaced both the cable segment, which remained virtually flat, and the wireline broadband market, which lost nearly 62,000 customers over the same period.
Overall, despite current volumes being relatively low, the GSA’s data suggests that if operators can harness consumer interest in the technology, the upward trend in strong CPE shipment growth rates should continue.