Wireless broadband providers optimism is at a record high, Cambium survey finds

Even before the Biden administration’s massive infrastructure package passed, wireless broadband service providers have been feeling good. Really good. Better than they have in the last few years, according to a new survey from Cambium Networks.

More than four out of five wireless broadband providers surveyed reported that they either more or equally optimistic about the future. That compares to 71% in 2020 and 61% in 2019.

Cambium’s fifth annual survey was conducted in July and August of this year and surveyed providers in 23 countries around the world.

“The details of the survey show that wireless broadband service providers are fundamentally confident” in their ability to attract and keep customers, provide reliable service at reasonable prices, adopt new technology and make the most of new spectrum including 60 GHz, 6 GHz and CBRS, Cambium concluded.

“Wireless service providers remain resilient, with an unwavering ability to rapidly adapt to changes in demand and technology and strong commitment to satisfy their customers by providing reliable service at competitive prices,” said Scott Imhoff, senior vice president of product management at Cambium Networks. “By capitalizing on new opportunities in suburban and rural areas, while still serving their satisfied base in rural areas, they continue to drive the industry forward and create stronger, more connected communities.”

While WISPs often serve rural areas and 44% of those surveyed reported doing so, the 2021 survey showed a slight increase in providers reporting that they were serving urban locations. Nearly 25% of surveyed providers said they served an even mix of urban, suburban and rural areas.

In terms of specific services offered, 22% of providers said they had added residential Wi-Fi, 14% added outdoor hotspots, and 3% had begun offering mobile services. The survey also found declines in some services that boomed during 2020, such as managed Wi-Fi, voice service, IT support and video surveillance.

What were the major challenges that wireless broadband providers identified? Funding and financing was ranked highest, followed by spectrum availability.

“As we look ahead to 2022 and 6 GHz frequency bands become available, there will be a rapid and efficient use of RF spectrum,” continued Imhoff. “We expect these service providers to seize this opportunity for growth by offering more turnkey services to enterprise, industrial and municipal markets while extending services for home office applications.”

In related news, there have been some notable recent expansions of coverage or speed for wireless broadband providers. Resound Wireless of Colorado said this week that it was able to achieve gigabit-level speeds in unlicensed 5 GHz spectrum with fixed wireless equipment from Tarana Wireless. The company said that it saw connection speeds up to 1 Gbps in the downlink and 500 Mbps in the uplink at distance of more than five miles in near-line-of-sight conditions. Resound plans to use the Tarana G1 platform for network expansion over the next five years from its headquarters in Pampa, Texas, to cover areas throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

Tyson Curtis, CEO of Resound, said, “We’ve worked hard with Tarana to perfect the G1 platform to produce gigabit-tier speeds and continue to achieve those great results at further and further distances. The results have been impressive and will allow Resound to expedite deployments requiring gigabit-tier speeds. In the future we expect to deploy Tarana in areas we would have served with fiber.”

In addition, Cambium customer Jade Communications of Colorado has begun offering service in Manassa, CO using 60 GHz mmWave equipment from Cambium that implements tech from Meta’s Terragraph, promising service speeds of at least 500 Mbps and up to 2 Gbps. One subscriber documented a speed test of nearly symmetric speeds: 1,664.27 Mbps in the downlink and an upload speed of 1,653.94 Mbps.

Jordan Whe, marketing director of Jade Communications, said that the company used to offer 50 and 100 Mbps service, and now it has been boosted to include gigabit service. Jade has about 4,500 subscribers and currently has more than 65 of the Cambium cnWave units installed and a coverage area of about 12 city blocks receiving symmetrical services.

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