5G Fixed Wireless will never reach its potential until operators are able to deliver a reliable self-installation solution to their customers, argues Els Baert, Director of Marketing & Communications at NetComm.

The arrival of 5G technology has generated intense debate in the global telecoms industry about what new services and applications it will deliver – with some saying 5G will bring incremental change whilst others argue it will be revolutionary.

One thing that people agree on is that the first mass-market application for 5G will be Fixed Wireless broadband and we have already seen operators in several markets launch pre-standard 5G Fixed Wireless services.

Although we are still in the very early days of 5G Fixed Wireless one thing is already abundantly clear from the first trials completed: there is a chronic need for a self-installation solution if 5G Fixed Wireless is to be a commercial success.

NetComm has been in the Fixed Wireless business for over a decade and our technology has connected hundreds of thousands of people all over the world so we have great experience in the challenges that Fixed Wireless can bring.

The biggest single challenge in making any deployment model stack-up is to make the business case work – if the numbers don’t add up then operators can’t launch services.

Today, especially when deployed in rural areas, this means Fixed Wireless devices are installed by professional installers at the home of the end-users. This ensure the best possible connection by alignment with the base station resulting in better coverage and the optimal number of connections per cell.

With 5G and the expansion of the Fixed Wireless offer, the need to send an engineer to install an antenna to receive the 5G signal is neither economic nor scalable. Spending hundreds of dollars on an engineer truck-roll kills the business case and the limited number of engineers that can do the installation reduces the speed of end-user activations and potential revenue streams.

One of the key benefits of 5G Fixed Wireless is that it can inject much-needed competition into areas where end-users don’t have a real choice in their broadband provider. It delivers a compelling ultra-fast broadband service to customers that are desperate for more choice, a better product but who are currently stuck with a single and normally expensive option.

To properly compete in these areas and convince end-users to switch to a 5G Fixed Wireless servicean improved end-user experience is absolutely critical. This doesn’t only mean higher speeds, but also the right quality of service (QoS) and the best pre- and post-installation support for the end-user.

While an optimal connection with the base station needs to be guaranteed customers don’t like staying home all day waiting for an engineer to turn up to achieve this. This is a significant barrier to delivering a good customer experience and can only be resolved by offering a Self-installation option.

NetComm’s self-install technology, based on our professional installation expertise meets both needs: qualitative connectivity with the simplicity and speed of end-users installing the device themselves.

The Self-Install technology is seen as a key piece of the puzzle to make 5G Fixed wireless a success and will be publicly demonstrated for the first time at Mobile World Congress (MWC).

Self-install technology allows operators to get out into the marketplace Fixed Wireless services and leverage their existing cellular network and spectrum holdings to carve out a new revenue stream.

Now, to be clear, a Self-Install solution might not be suitable in all scenarios. Our history in the Fixed Wireless space tells us that there will be no simple one-size-fits-all model for 5G Fixed Wireless.

Whilst our technology will enable self-install in many cases there will be other circumstances in which an external antenna is the best option. Therefore, a solution set of both indoor and outdoor devices will be needed.

NetComm is hugely excited about the potential opportunities that 5G Fixed Wireless will deliver for operators and broadband customers and we are proud to be leading the field in delivering the self-installation technology that will turn those potential opportunities into real ones.

Els Baert is the Director of Marketing and Communications at NetComm.