“5G-FWA will open up the road to monetisation for telcos”

FWA or Fixed Wireless Access could not only be the next but also a huge, inflection point for 5G. But will it help the country to connect places that fibre could not touch.

VoicenData Bureau
New Update


FWA or Fixed Wireless Access could not only be the next but also a huge, inflection point for 5G. But will it help the country to connect places that fibre could not touch? Will it help telcos make money, and if so, would it be the volume route again? And what happens to 5G in non-SA mode and in cracking the unique, but untapped, promise it has for the enterprise market? Jayanta Dey, Executive President – 5G Business, HFCL answers some of these in an interaction with Pratima Harigunani. Excerpts:


What makes HFCL’s 5G FWA solutions so exciting? How do you envision them changing the home broadband space in India?

There has been a remarkable surge in demand for safe and high-speed Internet access in India driving the need for fibreisation and increased broadband penetration. In addition, the rising data demand from micro, small, and medium enterprises is further pushing the need for an innovative connectivity solution.

While mobile wireless networks and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband have continued to serve the urban and suburban regions well, these services have yet to adequately meet the last-mile connectivity requirements since it is commercially unfeasible to deploy fiber infrastructure in hard-to-reach regions, such as islands, mountains, and distant villages.


As 5G networks expand, 5G FWA will become a key enabler for bridging the digital divide and ensuring Internet access becomes more inclusive for all.

The first real use case, of 5G Fixed Wireless Access (5G-FWA), will open up the road to monetisation for telecom players who have yet to make any significant headway since the 5G launch last year.

How does it cater to both multi-technologies, including 5G Standalone and 5G Non-Standalone with LTE?


Last year we launched India’s first indigenous 5G FWA CPE solution, that supports both 5G Standalone Architecture (SA) and Non-Standalone Architecture (NSA) technologies across multiple Sub-6 GHz and millimeter wave (mmWave) frequency bands to offer cost-effective and fiber-like speeds to customers using the 5G network. 5G Standalone offers some innovative features like network slicing but most of the 5G networks in the world are still 5G Non-Standalone which leverage the existing 4G network. Our FWA CPE products support both 5G Standalone and 5G Non-Standalone.

What lessons have you learned from the trials with telcos?

We had extensively tested the FWA CPE products in our R&D labs. When you do field trials and deploy in an operator’s network for the first time, you see a few issues which we have been able to quickly resolve. We had done field trials both with operators in India as well as in the USA. Each operator has its frequency bands and there were a few band-specific configurations and optimisations which we needed to do. The FWA CPE products are based on global 3GPP Release 15 and Release 16 standards and that enabled easy integration with 5G Radio networks and 5G Core Networks that were based on products from other OEMs. We experienced smooth interoperability without any significant issues, underscoring the advantages of adhering to global standards such as 3GPP.


How can FWA assist telcos in enhancing their ARPUs?

It’s been over a year since the much-awaited 5G launch. Jio and Airtel have extensively invested in 5G networks, increasing their network capacity and reach. 5G use cases for enterprises are yet to mature. Telcos are looking to monetise their 5G networks by offering 5G-based fixed-wireless broadband service. The home broadband market is important for the telcos as they have made significant investments in 5G, and 5G FWA is one of the most crucial use cases to help telcos monetise their 5G investments.

HFCL’s 5G FWA CPE portfolio offers new business opportunities for telcos by allowing them to offer Internet broadband services to consumers and enterprises using their existing 5G network infrastructure.


With FWA connections worldwide projected to reach 300 million by the end of 2028, what are the areas of opportunity in India?

5G FWA is gaining ground as a strong alternative to fixed broadband in both developed and emerging markets. India currently has one of the lowest fixed broadband penetrations in the world and is estimated at 11% approximately. There are 300 million households in India but approximately only 35 million households have a wireline broadband connection. 5G FWA will help to address the digital divide in India by increasing broadband penetration. Deployment of 5G FWA is much faster compared to fibre which often gets impacted due to rights-of-way and other challenges like fibre cuts.

Deployment of 5G FWA is much faster compared to fibre which often gets impacted due to rights-of-way and other challenges like fibre cuts.


Built to complement wired broadband connections in areas where fibre rollout is limited, HFCL’s range of 5G FWA CPE solutions support both 5G SA and NSA technologies across multiple Sub-6 GHz and mmWave frequency bands that will help to offer cost-effective and fibre-like Internet speeds to customers.

How crucial and practical is 5G FWA in addressing the digital divide and improving teledensity in rural areas, particularly for unconnected homes and SMEs?

The rural Internet subscriber density in India stands at 37.25%, while the urban Internet subscriber density stands at 103.95%. This indicates that there is a significant gap in teledensity between rural and urban areas in India. Around half of India’s population still lives in rural areas. FWA is a critical tool to provide reliable broadband services in rural areas. As 5G networks expand, 5G FWA becomes a key enabler for bridging the digital divide and ensuring Internet access becomes more inclusive for all.


Is FWA the most significant 5G use case after mobile broadband? Why or why not?

Indian telecom operators have invested over Rs 1.5 lakh crore in infrastructure in the last year to deploy 5G networks, expand fibre networks and upgrade existing infrastructure, according to data from Digital Infrastructure Providers Association.

Despite significant investments in 5G networks and spectrum auctions, the journey to monetisation is still unfolding. However, the positive aspect is that 5G, as the first cellular technology to cater to both the consumer and enterprise markets, holds immense potential. The current slow adoption of 5G in the enterprise sector can be attributed to the absence of concrete use cases, but initiatives like 5G Industrial IoT and 5G Private Networks are actively progressing through pilot and ‘proof of concept’ phases. In the Indian telecom industry, optimism surrounds the potential of 5G FWA as a pioneering use case, providing an opportunity for an additional revenue stream. Both telecom players are making significant investments in FWA, considering the substantial untapped market with home broadband penetration at a mere 11% in India.

With service provider revenues from FWA worldwide projected to increase from USD 27 billion in 2022 to USD 67 billion by 2028, where will these revenues primarily originate from?

Developed markets like the USA are currently driving 5G FWA growth. Currently, the USA is leading in the growth of FWA subscribers. The drivers for this growth include – firstly, the need for broadband services in rural areas and; secondly, DSL and cable customers migrating to 5G FWA for a true broadband experience. APAC, particularly India and China, will drive 5G FWA adoption going forward. In addition, Europe, Latin America and Africa will see growth in 5G FWA subscribers. Consumers in areas unserved or poorly served with wired broadband are demanding broadband service more comparable with those offered to their urban peers, and these needs can be served by 5G FWA.

Higher volumes will drive down the cost of 5G FWA CPE and this will help accelerate the adoption of 5G FWA-based home broadband services.

Would telcos be able to drive more revenues by increasing volumes in this segment, or would they earn better through premiums for speed offered to specific customers?

There is a place for both volume-based and premium FWA services. The consumer segment is served by a volume-based approach. Higher volumes will drive down the cost of 5G FWA CPE and this will help in the accelerated adoption of 5G FWA-based home broadband services. Enterprises and various industry verticals that need low latency, mission-critical services as well as industrial IoT will be willing to pay a premium for reliable and ultra-broadband 5G FWA services.

What advantages and challenges are associated with being an indigenous player? Could you elaborate further on your India-made CPE gear?

We take immense pride in being the first home-grown company to design and introduce a 5G FWA CPE solution that is set to revolutionise fibre-like 5G connectivity and take it to the next level across Indian and global markets.

We have worked closely with our telco customers in India to understand the specific needs of the Indian market. India is a vast country and there are diverse deployment scenarios for the rollout of 5G FWA services. We have built a comprehensive portfolio of 5G FWA CPE to address the different deployment scenarios. 5G operates at a much higher frequency band and so there are challenges with 5G signals travelling indoors through walls and windows. Hence, many of the 5G deployments require an Outdoor FWA CPE which is mounted on a rooftop or the walls of a building. On the other hand, homes or enterprises that have good indoor signal coverage are best served by an Indoor FWA CPE as it can be self-installed by the customer and avoids the need to send a technician home. Our portfolio of FWA CPE products includes both Outdoor and Indoor FWA CPE. We have implemented features to ensure that a single Outdoor FWA CPE can serve multiple homes in a multi-dwelling unit in an urban area or multiple independent homes that are close by in a suburban or rural area.

Jayanta Dey

Executive President – 5G Business, HFCL