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Work from Home: Broadband Service Provider Upside

As demand for broadband internet access increases, many providers focus on infrastructure upgrades. Deployment of technology solutions that support a better broadband user experience is becoming critical for tier-one telecom network service providers to achieve revenue growth.

Smart Wi-Fi and Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) are becoming among the key solutions to enhance existing broadband services and support fiber-like broadband in underserved markets without installing last-mile fiber connectivity.

According to the latest worldwide market study by ABI Research, smart Wi-Fi and FWA deployments will drive Wi-Fi mesh and 5G FWA Consumer Premise Equipment (CPE) unit shipments to reach 40.6 million and 14.6 million units respectively in 2025.

Wireless Internet Access Market Development

Despite the network operators’ efforts to provide higher-speed broadband services, investment in infrastructure upgrades alone is no longer enough for a better user experience. As the number of connected devices per household continues to grow, users increasingly demand better in-home Wi-Fi networks.

"Reliable Wi-Fi is crucial as video streaming, online gaming, and video conferencing applications are booming, especially in saturated markets. Operators are responding to the demand by supplying customers with CPE that have mesh systems and higher Wi-Fi standards such as Wi-Fi 6 to support the whole home experience," said Khin Sandi Lynn, an analyst at ABI Research.

According to the ABI assessment, Wi-Fi mesh systems are gaining popularity for complete home Wi-Fi coverage and to support network management tools such as parental control, device-level traffic control, and self-diagnosis in case of technical issues.

These features will continue to drive the adoption of mesh devices in residential broadband services. Providing advanced Wi-Fi devices enables broadband operators to enhance the user’s experience, and increase the average revenue per user (ARPU) that subscribers pay for these mesh systems.

Broadband operators are also adding FWA services to support guaranteed quality-of-service (QoS). Broadband operators including Verizon, Deutsche Telekom, and Vodafone have launched 5G FWA in high-density urban areas to provide fiber-like broadband services.

British Telecom has recently launched Hybrid Connect, an optional add-on service to fixed broadband users. Hybrid Connect enables all the devices within the home to connect to FWA in case of a technical problem in the fixed broadband.

In addition to Wi-Fi and FWA solutions, ABI analysts believe service providers need to consider adding value-added services such as internet and home security applications and smart-home solutions to their broadband access services to create more revenue streams.

Outlook for Broadband Access Applications Growth

"Ultimately, service providers need to embrace advanced technology and take advantage of their strong relationship with existing broadband customers to win their business goals. Investments in efficient software solutions to understand user behavior, including frequently used applications and services, data consumption, and devices connected to the network, will help service providers pinpoint the needs of their existing customers," concludes Lynn.

In addition, the deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) data analysis tools can help broadband service providers achieve business benefits such as improved network optimization, preventive maintenance, and enable sales and marketing strategies that utilize subscriber usage trends.

Moreover, I believe that broadband service providers will target the employers of remote workers that are based in home offices. They require reliable and secure network access to the corporate data center and SaaS applications. Branch office network optimization solutions, such as SD-WAN and SASE, are likely to benefit the work-from-home (WFH) employee population across a variety of industry verticals.

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