In recent developments, Qualcomm, the global leader in smartphone chip production, has suggested that 5G-based fixed wireless access (FWA) services utilizing millimeter waves (26 GHz spectrum) could bring about a revolution in India’s telecom sector. This prediction was shared at the Snapdragon Summit 2023, where the company unveiled its Snapdragon 8-Gen 3 mobile processor.
Durga Malladi from Qualcomm Technologies highlighted the economic advantages of 5G-based FWA over traditional fiber broadband at the summit. He pointed out the success of FWA in Japan and the US, along with its growing popularity in Latin America and Southeast Asian markets.
FWA offers a quick solution to consumers who want to connect without the need for fiber cable installation, addressing last-mile connectivity challenges. The demand for robust broadband connectivity has surged in India due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, two leading telecom companies in India, have conducted promising trials of their 5G-based FWA services on this spectrum, even amidst Mumbai’s intense monsoon season. Qualcomm played a crucial role in these trials and in evaluating their results.
Both Jio and Airtel have initiated AirFiber or 5G-based FWA services in key markets. Mukesh Ambani, the head of Reliance Industries, stated that Jio AirFiber has the potential to connect up to 150,000 homes per day. This is a significant increase from the current rate of 1,500 homes/day with Jio Fiber.
Despite there being no mass killer app for 5G mobile broadband services yet, FWA presents considerable revenue opportunities for telecom companies. If it gains traction, it could lead to increased broadband adoption among the approximately 85 million Pay-TV homes in India currently without internet access. Investing