2017 Wireless Broadband Predictions and Trends

By Amanda Kowalik   January 12, 2017

With wireless broadband networks deployed in business and residential networks around the world, we are constantly discussing trends and requirements with customers and service providers. Here is our view of the major trends that will drive the broadband wireless industry in the new year and beyond.

  1. A basic human need across the world—broadband connectivity.

In the past few years, the social effects of the “digital divide” have become a stark reality. Entire communities are being connected so that people have the opportunity to participate in society and grow their careers.

Affordability will continue to be a key driver.

However, while connectivity at every residence and enterprise may remain difficult to achieve, communities and schools are offering the ability for people to connect at local hub locations. These hot spots are a proven solution that provides the ability to connect with families, register for services, and find work opportunities.

Governments around the world and key players in the IT industry will seek to connect the unconnected. Several major service providers are working on getting internet access to underserved areas by developing new, affordable technologies that are easy to deploy. In addition, governments everywhere are working to mandate reliable, high-speed internet access for their citizens.

  1. Wireless—the preferred connectivity solution.

Wireless will be the preferred connectivity solution. There are obvious benefits to wireless connectivity—it is a fraction of the cost of fiber or other wired alternatives. It is also greener – after all, with wireless there is no need to dig trenches or drill through walls.

In addition, wireless enables connectivity virtually anywhere. In fact, people have adjusted their lives assuming the availability of wireless connectivity.

Wireless technologies are evolving and now provide significant choice points; this means that the best technical solution can be identified for any given situation.

With wireless, there is a continuous drop in the cost of delivered data. Advancements in technology will continue to provide more throughput at lower cost. Increases in the efficient use of spectrum will continue to be achieved with lower-cost products. These innovations include more efficient coding, modulation, MIMO, interference cancellation, and spectrum harvesting using frequency aggregation.

  1. An insatiable need for speed.

All network users will continue to need high-speed throughput. Emerging multimedia venues, including social applications, virtual reality and e-commerce, require more bandwidth than ever before. With the advent of IOT-based smart applications, the amount of data traveling in the network will increase substantially. High-speed, real-time wireless networks will fulfil these requirements.

Today’s service provider network architectures have to scale for emerging expectations of media-rich services and performance.

And, as many “e-tailers” are discovering, end users are increasingly impatient with slow network performance—they will move on after a delay of only a few seconds. To ensure that their networks are capable of supporting their customers’ needs in the future, their networks must be responsive and reliable.

Users are no longer satisfied with 10 Mbps connections and expect at least 25 Mbps speed. High-quality video content  and virtual reality will only exacerbate this trend, with the bandwidth usage of 720P, 1080P and 4K video averaging 2, 5 and 25 Mbps respectively. Networks which can best handle delivery of video end to end, from efficient compression, transmission and storage, will provide a superior user experience and attract more customers than those that fail to do so – whether it's Netflix, CCTV video for security purposes, or real-time collaboration.

  1. A greater demand for technology convergence.

Service providers can expand their revenue by integrating new technologies into their network footprint and offering new services to reach new markets. Customers can gracefully migrate to new technologies.

High-speed data access technologies will prevail in the last 400 meters at the network edge. High-capacity long-range links will transport aggregated bulk data from remote locations to the data center. Industrial IoT (IIoT) networks will depend on reliable, small-packet transactional real-time data networks.

Businesses and network operators are seeking the advantages of a holistic operation and have a greater demand for technology convergence, with various wireless technologies co-existing, managed and supported via a single management system. And these management systems must “de-mystify” different technologies and make them easier to deploy and operate.

In addition to the technical advances, increases in network management efficiency will also contribute significantly to cost reduction efforts. We should also expect to see improving facilities to reduce the time and skill required for product installation, troubleshooting and network optimization.

  1. Machine learning—transcending analytics to deliver true insights.

Machine learning and data science are rapidly emerging trends that will have a significant impact across major technologies. The opportunities they create are boundless, though at the outset they may not seem entirely connect to the fixed wireless broadband market.

There is too much data but not enough insight. Understanding often requires domain expertise, and a significant time investment to parse operational details. This is true whether one is troubleshooting wireless connectivity, or quantifying how well an IoT infrastructure is operating. The amount of data can be staggering, and most organizations lack the capability to extract meaningful, decision-making information from this massive influx.

Data collection, including storage and streaming, forms the first part of this revolution: whether in wireless optimization or IoT management. What must follow are systems intelligent enough to autonomously synthesize the data into actionable information for decision makers. Machine learning will be key to ensuring that information is relevant, and human-centered design guarantees it is readily used. In fixed wireless broadband this means network issues will become easier to diagnose and mitigate, deployments will be protected by proactively anticipating problems and automatically applying most effective remedies. Operational expertise will become more a feature of the infrastructure with built-in inherent intelligence for increased reliability and efficiency. 


To sum up, while the high rate of technological change we are anticipating puts unprecedented pressure on service providers, it also creates unprecedented opportunities for all network operators. Cambium Networks continues to invest in access technologies at the network edge, long-range data transport solutions, and cloud-based end-to-end management systems that provide a comprehensive view of the entire network with proactive diagnostics and ensure reliable performance.