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Looking ahead: What to expect from FWA and DeWi in 2023

With cable nabbing more wireless subscribers, FWA and DeWi are technologies to watch in the new year.

Mike Dano

December 19, 2022

2 Min Read
Looking ahead: What to expect from FWA and DeWi in 2023

As the new year approaches, the US wireless industry remains in a state of flux, with cable companies slowly encroaching and 5G expanding to more places across more spectrum bands.

Here are two big topics we think are worth watching:

1. FWA will start to taper

Fixed wireless access (FWA) hit the big time in 2022. Indeed, it accounted for 95% of all broadband net customer additions among the biggest Internet providers in the US, according to one estimate.

That's significant, considering 2022 kicked off with plenty of questions about whether FWA would have any kind of impact on the cable industry.

However, there's a good chance that the momentum behind FWA will slow dramatically next year. In fact, according to the financial analysts at New Street Research, there are already some early indications that FWA growth may have already peaked. "It looks like the pace of growth is starting to slow," they wrote in a recent report.

Why? The answer is relatively simple: 5G networks have a limit to the number of customers they can support. FWA services generate far more data than traditional smartphone services. As a result, there's a good chance that FWA providers in the US like T-Mobile and Verizon simply won't have the network capacity necessary to add lots of new FWA subscribers during 2023 like they did in 2022.

2. DeWi will do... something

Decentralized wireless (DeWi for those in the know) quietly gained steam during 2022, with players including Helium Mobile, Pollen Mobile, Xnet and Karrier One breaking cover.

While each provider is coming into the market from a slightly different angle, they're all hoping to use cryptocurrency as a reward for the construction and operation of cell sites. That tantalizing business model promises to shift the costs of building a 5G network from an operator to, well, just about anyone willing to make an investment.

So what might happen in 2023? That's certainly the big question. DeWi players hope that the market catches fire and that big 5G players are forced to take notice. But the opposite – a complete DeWi collapse – is just as likely, particularly given the recent troubles hitting cryptocurrency.

Either way, DeWi will definitely do something during 2023.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

About the Author(s)

Mike Dano

Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading

Mike Dano is Light Reading's Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies. Mike can be reached at [email protected], @mikeddano or on LinkedIn.

Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.

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