RJio has edge over Airtel in deploying FWA 5G tech to enter homes: Report
Leading telecom players are likely to use fixed wireless access (FWA) technology to enter Indian homes first and thereafter upgrade to fibre once it is available, and Reliance Jio may have an edge in FWA deployment although Airtel may catch up, a report showed on Tuesday.
New Delhi, June 13 Leading telecom players are likely to use fixed wireless access (FWA) technology to enter Indian homes first and thereafter upgrade to fibre once it is available, and Reliance Jio may have an edge in FWA deployment although Airtel may catch up, a report showed on Tuesday.
FWA would be an important leg of 5G monetisation, as it could give telcos easy entry to homes if priced right and telcos could then upsell content, internet of things (IoT) etc to improve their topline, according to a report by Emkay Global.
"RJio has already committed to an investment of $25 billion in 5G (including $11 billion in spectrum). This also includes $5-6 billion investment for FWA, indicating a large commitment by RJio for another new technology," the report noted.
When it comes to preparing for FWA deployment, RJio is relatively ahead of peers on the back of its wider 5G coverage, availability of better spectrum bands, improved fiber infrastructure for backhaul, in-house technology with the Mimosa acquisition and more feet-on-street for acquiring homes once FWA is launched.
"Both RJio and Bharti Airtel have 3300MHz and 26GHz band spectrums that can be used to offer FWA services. However, RJio has the expensive 700MHz band that it is using for 5G launch and which can also be used for FWA; this can help RJio offer wider coverage, better signal penetration, and extended range vs. peers," the report explained.
Reliance Jio has rolled out 5G in over 5,400 cities and towns in comparison to 3,500 cities/towns for Bharti Airtel.
"The roll-out of FWA using 5G can give telcos access to homes that were not previously covered by wireline broadband," the Emkay report said.
In March, Jio Platforms signed a definitive agreement of $60 million for acquisition of communications equipment-maker Mimosa Networks.
Mimosa has a portfolio of point-to-multi-point products based on WiFi-5 and the newer WiFi 6E technologies, as well as related accessories. Mimosa can provide the architecture for high-speed connectivity for both, the end user and backhaul applications.
"Such solutions have use-cases in the backhaul requirements for a 5G and FTTX/FWA rollout. Mimosa can now help RJio offer cost-effective solutions and products for FWA," according to the report.
Reliance Jio is relatively better placed for 5G and FWA deployments, given its strong fiber network for backhaul vs Airtel.
"RJio's network - including the metro core network, the aggregate network, and the long-distance network - relies on fiber-optic cables for backhauling. This grants it the capability to take the 5G load, including FWA. RJio uses towers of Summit Digitel; 60 per cent of these towers are fiberised vs only 35 per cent of overall towers in India being fiberised," the report said.
On the other hand, Airtel, with a relatively smaller fiber footprint, will look to strengthen its 5G backhaul with deployment of e-band microwaves on 5G-loaded towers.
Bharti Airtel has partnered with local cable operators (LCOs) to increase the rate of home additions. Still, RJio's feet-on-street footprint appears larger in comparison to Bharti Airtel, as the former has been adding 0.25 million homes each month vs. Bharti's 0.14 mn monthly addition in H2FY23.
"Further, this bigger footprint can help RJio acquire homes faster than peers, once FWA is launched," the report noted.