Fixed 5G wireless is an unlikely candidate to solve rural America’s broadband challenges, according to a new report by CoBank. Rural telecommunication providers have identified 5G fixed wireless as a potential option.
However, the report says high costs, competition, spectrum propagation and ecosystem headwinds stand in the way. Verizon is implementing 5G in urban markets, but a CoBank spokesperson says “they are facing operational and technical issues that will limit the scale of its 5G fixed wireless deployments.”
Because of the technical issues, CoBank says “we don’t see the use of millimeter-wave spectrum in fixed wireless networks extending to rural markets.”
There are measures underway that will open opportunities for some rural network deployments. However, uncertainties related to the cost of acquiring licensed rights could be problematic.
Further, the report says that Verizon, the leader in 5G fixed wireless, faces stiff competition from cable operators in urban and suburban areas, which presents a challenge to offer a competitively priced product while maintaining profitability.