WASHINGTON, June 15, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Americans could save over $8.1 billion a year thanks to increased home broadband competition from 5G fixed wireless access (FWA), according to a new report by Econ One, commissioned by CTIA. The analysis finds that more mid-band licensed spectrum is key to making sure 5G FWA offerings can be scaled to maximize these economic benefits.
"We now have an affordable broadband option available to millions, offering real competitive choice in more and more communities, and providing a critical tool in helping close the digital divide," said Meredith Attwell Baker, President and CEO, CTIA. "With more 5G spectrum we can further expand this service and bring these benefits to even more Americans."
5G FWA accounted for 90% of all new broadband subscriptions in 2022, and the two fastest growing home broadband providers are wireless companies offering 5G home broadband over exclusive-use licensed spectrum.
To determine how consumers will benefit from the further expansion of 5G FWA, Econ One conducted a survey to estimate the impact it would have on wireless home broadband substitution and consumer pricing under a number of different scenarios. The results found significant consumer savings, especially in markets where cable is the only high-speed broadband provider, which currently represents about 30% of high-speed broadband households. If 5G FWA expands into these markets at current prices, then prices on existing cable broadband offerings will fall by 37% in response to the new competition. This price reduction is estimated to yield at least $5.7 billion in annual consumer savings alone.
"FWA is bringing real benefits to consumers, but it's a data-intensive product, and growth can only occur in areas where service providers have sufficient spectrum capacity," said Hal Singer, Managing Director, Econ One.
The authors determined that if operators had sufficient additional spectrum capacity to compete more aggressively with fixed broadband providers for subscribers, FWA would further drive down cable pricing resulting in $8.1 billion in savings. Considering other surpluses, overall consumer benefits from this heightened competition would increase to $9.6 billion a year.
"The policy implication is clear," said Augustus Urschel, Economist, Econ One. "The best and fastest way to increase home broadband competition, which will bring significant consumer savings, is getting more full-power licensed mid-band spectrum into the hands of FWA providers."
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