Highlighting the growth potential of the 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) market, shipments of 5G FWA consumer premises equipment (CPE) more than doubled to 3.6 million in 2021, up 162% year-on-year, and are expected to reach 7.6 million in 2022, according to the 26 CPE vendors surveyed by the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA)
Aggregated shipments for the surveyed companies declined in 2021, partly as a result of the component shortage affecting the whole industry and partly due to a strong 2020 bolstered by the Covid-19 pandemic, especially for battery-operated pocket routers, the report notes.
Of the 5G-enabled products shipped in 2021, 160,000 were mmWave-based devices, up from 130,000 in 2020.
As the upwards momentum for such devices is expected to continue, some 88% of vendors shared plans to introduce 5G mmWave-based products in the coming years.
While the number of 5G FWA devices (including 4G and 5G capable products) shipped in 2021 more than doubled, that sub-sector remains small, accounting for just 16% of the 22.7 million units shipped; 84% of all FWA CPE products shipped in 2021 were 4G/LTE only.
The most important trend in the FWA sector currently is connecting the unconnected, while working from home and DSL-line replacement are also seen as significant demand drivers, according to the surveyed.
The majority of respondents expects little or no component shortages in 2023 but foresee prevalent inflationary pressures.
While the market is growing in terms of size as well as importance – FWA now features in the broadband service plans of many more mobile and fixed network operators than it did two or three years ago – there is still a lot of work to be done on identifying and sizing the market, according to Julien Grivolas, chairman of the GSA 4G/5G FWA Forum, which conducts the annual market survey on FWA devices.