Is 5G FWA a game changer?

07 April 2024

Todd Mussman discusses the potential of 5G fixed wireless access within the manufacturing environment.

The manufacturing sector has undergone a major digital transformation in recent years, with the rise of robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), data analytics and other transformative technologies, having a profound impact across the sector. It is enabling manufacturers to remain competitive by optimising their processes, improving quality and reducing costs.
However, as manufacturers become increasingly reliant on these modern technologies connectivity is quickly becoming the backbone of the industry.
Having a high-speed and reliable network is key to remaining agile and ensuring business continuity. It is essential for transmitting data quickly and safely to not only keep production lines running smoothly but also to enable manufacturers to make informed, near real-time decisions. 
For manufacturers looking to boost connectivity, there are several routes they could take. One option, which is currently garnering much attention today, is 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA). This technology – which provides stable, high-speed internet – offers a high-performance, reliable answer for those looking to remain agile, no matter what.  
FWA is a type of 5G technology that relies on radio waves to broadcast high-speed signals across vast distances instead of fibre optic cabling, reducing the number of infrastructural challenges related to traditional broadband access. For manufacturers, it offers greater reliability and resiliency with guaranteed performance.  
By delivering ultra-fast speeds, 5G FWA provides optimal connectivity for all. This is a game-changer, especially for manufactures who have plants/warehouses in rural and challenging-to-reach locations, where wireline solutions for wireline and/or primary connectivity is difficult to establish. especially in challenging-to-reach locations in the manufacturing supply chain where wireline solutions for primary connectivity are difficult to establish.
Easy installation
Another benefit associated with 5G FWA is easy installation. Unlike traditional connections, it can be installed without any cable drilling or wiring. All it needs to be activated is the right expertise and a 5G-enabled SIM card. This also makes it far more cost effective than many of the other solutions on the market.  
5G FWA networks are also built with redundancy measures and backup internet connections in place, making them a reliable solution for manufacturers who need to stay connected at all times. By using a premise-based modem equipped with dual SIM cards, the FWA service is made available across two operators’ footprints. This means users can switch to the network providing the best performance at a given time, increasing agility and performance. 
This technology has the power to transform manufacturing due to its ability to provide high-speed connectivity, rapid deployment, fewer business interruptions and improved scalability. Currently, many of these benefits are already being witnessed in retail environments, where the blending of 5G and Wi-Fi has extended connectivity, leading to improved customer experiences, reliable point of sales (POS) processing, and faster decision making.  
Unlocking the potential  
Before businesses operating in the manufacturing space can unlock the 5G FWA connectivity rewards, there are some things to consider – especially when it comes to implementation. One key area that needs to be addressed is whether the organisation has the required skillset and expertise to ensure that deployment and everything it entails is a success – from integrating existing infrastructure to combating potential network congestion and cost, plus everything that follows the deployment.  
A recent Deloitte study found that 86% of manufacturing executives believe that smart factory solutions will be the primary drivers of competitiveness in the next five years. As technology’s role continues to grow, connectivity has never been more important for manufacturers looking to reap the rewards of Industry 4.0.
The role that 5G FWA could play in this is clear to see. When deployed and managed effectively, this technology can enable organisations to scale, remain agile, provide business continuity, and ultimately gain competitive advantage. The next generation of connectivity solutions is here; and it starts with 5G FWA.

Todd Mussman is a wireless connectivity expert at GTT. 

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