Fixed Wireless Access Gets Put to the Test in Major Markets - Why 'Middle of the Pack' Looks Good Enough to Us

T-Mobile fixed wireless access
(Image credit: T-Mobile)

Fixed Wireless Access services from T-Mobile and Verizon added 920,000 customers alone in the third quarter, a period during which the once fast-growing cable sector remained largely flat in terms of broadband expansion. 

Prices for these insurgent 5G wireless services for the home markedly undercut establishment cable, with T-Mobile 5G Home Internet priced at only $50 a month. The cable industry -- which continues to jack up prices (opens in new tab) on home internet service -- has countered this revolt by telling consumers they'll get what they pay for -- wireless networks don't have the required density to delivery the kind of performance broadband users are looking for when they watch The Crown on Netflix in 4K, they say.

Also read: T-Mobile's 578K Fixed Wireless Customer Additions in Q3 Come Amid Narrow Broadband Gains for Comcast and Charter

But FWA might just be good enough, according to a new, first-of-its-kind report (opens in new tab) from Opensignal. 

The widely respected wireless research company compared the performances of T-Mobile and Verizon FWA services in 25 U.S. markets to cable and telco fiber-to-the-home high-speed internet services. 

Generally, FWA did rank in Opensignal's words, "middle of the pack." In fact, in some markets like New York/New Jersey, FWA ranked well below cable and fiber in terms of basic benchmarks like download speeds. 

However, at a time of abject penny-pinching for a lot of cash-strapped consumers, is it enough of a performance difference to negate the huge price break 5G FWA is offering, particularly when bundled wireless services are factored in? ■

(Image credit: Opensignal)

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!