Fixed Wireless Subscribers Projected to Double in Five Years; Technology is Most Cost-Effective Solution for Under-Served Rural and Suburban Areas


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE on Monday, September 25, 2017
MEDIA CONTACT: Dale Curtis,, 202-246-5659 (mobile)

Fixed Wireless Broadband Industry Projected to Nearly Double in Five Years; New Data Show It’s the Most Cost-Effective Solution for Under-Served Areas 

New Analyst Report Describes Conditions and Trends in a Highly Dynamic Industry

Carmel, CA – A new report by analyst firm The Carmel Group forecasts robust growth for the U.S. fixed wireless broadband industry, with the nationwide number of subscribers projected to nearly double from more than 4 million at the end of 2016 to 8 million by 2021. Core industry revenues are expected to nearly double from $2.3 billion to more than $5.2 billion.

The report also says the economics of fixed wireless make it the most cost-effective broadband solution for rural and other under-served areas because networks can be built and upgraded faster and at a fraction of the cost of networks based on DSL, fiber, or cable (see chart).

“Based on a wealth of new data, The Carmel Group rates the BWA industry’s growth prospects as stronger than those of cable, fiber, and satellite TV,” says report author Jimmy Schaeffler. “Optimism is in short supply in today’s pay TV and broadband markets, so the fixed wireless industry is an exciting success story.”

“Ready for Takeoff: The BWA Industry Report 2017” is the most comprehensive study ever conducted of the Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) industry. BWA providers are also called “fixed wireless” providers or “wireless internet service providers” (WISPs).

BWA providers transmit high volumes of internet data to fixed locations such as residences, businesses, and community anchor institutions using antennas mounted on towers and buildings. In contrast, mobile wireless networks generally transmit lower volumes of data to non-stationary receivers such as smartphones.

According to the report, the U.S. BWA industry is composed of more than 2,000 mostly small- and medium-sized businesses in all 50 states, with an average of 1,200 customers each. BWA providers are also proven success stories in other nations including Australia, Canada, Italy, the Philippines, and Russia.

The report delves into the key industry growth drivers, including:

  • Explosive consumer demand for broadband services, especially video, and pent-up demand in under-served areas;
  • Favorable network deployment economics;
  • The industry’s ability to use unlicensed and shared spectrum resources;
  • Ever-improving technology at competitive prices (including global-standards-based LTE equipment);
  • Expanding capital availability; and
  • The emergence of new markets and service categories that BWA can support.

The report also notes that while the overall outlook for the BWA industry is highly positive, there are significant challenges, including a bias in federal regulations toward the needs of national mobile wireless carriers and urban fixed wireline solutions such as cable and fiber.

The report is based on independent research conducted in 2016, including 30 two-hour interviews with representatives of wireless broadband service providers, vendors, and thought leaders. Other sources included the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), Wireless Communications Association International (WCAI), bankers and financiers, other groups and telecom companies, and filings at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Extensive surveys of operators, equipment manufacturers, and vendors were distributed to members of WISPA and WCAI to gain another layer of research and analysis. A higher-than-average response rate to the surveys translates into an unusual degree of confidence behind both the surveys and the report.

The report is available from The Carmel Group or Detailed survey data is available for sale by contacting The Carmel Group.

About The Carmel Group

The Carmel Group was founded in 1996 as a spin-off from Paul Kagan Associates. Key areas of activity include consulting, especially in telecom, media, and technology litigation support, and competitive analysis, research, publishing, journalism, and conference support. The Carmel Group also has four decades of business development strategic advisory services, merger and acquisition advisory services, and investment advisory services for companies in the telecom, digital media, mobile communications, and high technology sectors. 

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WISPA is a membership-driven trade association that promotes the development, advancement and unity of the fixed wireless internet service provider industry. For more information, visit