Research Note

October 2021 The Fixed Weird Access (FWA) Debate and Update

October 2021

Abstract

I guess when you saw FWA you thought fixed wireless access and you were right. But just coming back from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where I spoke at and attended the Broadband World Forum (BBWF) in person, I can tell how weird it was to find FWA everywhere from presentations to discussions at coffee breaks and cocktail receptions—yes it really felt kind of normal in Amsterdam with packed coffee shops and the red-light district reopened for business!

As usual, Huawei was the major event sponsor and what’s remarkable is the fact that Huawei was hosting its 12th Global Mobile Broadband Forum in Dubai at the same time: there was a full overlap between content of the 2 events but different crowds. It’s remarkable because on the one hand, Huawei’s wireless infrastructure business starting with RAN has been severely affected by the U.S. pressure to ban the vendor from being a key 5G RAN supplier, and on the other hand, on the fixed side of the business, Huawei has quietly continued to command more than 50% of all OLTs (optical line terminations) in the EMEA region. It’s worth mentioning that with no surprise and for the 3rd year in a row, Huawei won the Fiber Access Solution of the year award with its SingleFAN Pro Solution with Fiber Access.

From the discussions I had with tier 1 communications service providers (CSPs) at the BBWF, this is not going to change anytime soon because of Huawei’s superior price-to-performance ratio for PON equipment. Nokia and ZTE are the other 2 major PON suppliers and from what I heard, there is serious consideration being made to bring in a fourth player to the existing mix to foster competition. Will that be Adtran/ADVA?

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