What is Fixed Wireless Broadband?

Canstar Blue takes a look at fixed wireless broadband and explores some of the pros and cons of this form of internet connection

If you move home often or live out in the wop-wops, you might be struggling to set up an internet connection that suits your needs. This is where fixed wireless broadband comes in. But what is this internet option and what are its strengths and limitations? Canstar Blue explains:

What is Fixed Wireless Broadband?

Fixed wireless broadband uses a 4G mobile network – or 5G in some areas –  to deliver broadband to homes, which means you no longer need a landline. The beauty of fixed-wireless access is that the connection is nearly as fast as Ultra-Fast Broadband, but it can be installed in minutes (rather than the traditional hours, or even days, to install a cable connection). Because fixed wireless broadband doesn’t require a landline, it also takes third-party infrastructure provider, Chorus, out of the equation.

Who can benefit from Fixed Wireless Broadband?

Depending on the remoteness of a home’s location, it might not have access to either VDSL or fibre connections. However, fixed wireless broadband only needs a mobile signal, and national coverage is pretty widespread, as you can see from the National Broadband Map. The modem, called a gateway, only needs to be connected to a power source and as long as there’s a mobile signal you’re away!

If you live rurally, fixed wireless broadband might be one of the only options available. However, check the strength of the mobile signal in your home, as it’s a measure of the quality of the fixed wireless broadband you can expect.

Are there any limitations to Fixed Wireless Broadband?

In short, yes. Because fixed wireless broadband uses radio signals – rather than phone lines, cables or fibre – it is susceptible to a range of external factors, such as weather, local demand from users, and even interference caused by trees and hedges.

Data caps on fixed wireless broadband have previously limited the use of this type of connection. However, Spark and Vodafone have recently increased their data caps, with costs of around $85 for 600GB per month. Vodafone is also continuing to put its stamp on the fixed-wireless space, predicting that a quarter of its broadband customers will make the move to fixed wireless broadband over the next five years. That means Vodafone increasing its number of fixed wireless broadband customers from 40,000 to 100,000 by 2023.

While fixed wireless broadband is almost as fast as ultra-fast broadband, the fact that it can be slower and that it comes with data caps means that it’s probably not suited to those who stream all their entertainment needs, or play online games that require a fibre-quick internet connection.

Is there anything else to consider when choosing broadband?

Choosing the type of broadband connection that best suits you and your household comes down to how you use the internet, the type and volume of data you consume, as well as where you live. But the type of broadband isn’t the only thing to consider. You should also choose a broadband provider that delivers great service and value for money. To help you with the decision-making process, Canstar Blue surveys New Zealanders to discover their level of satisfaction with broadband providers in the market. To see how providers stack up, use Canstar Blue’s free broadband customer review, below.

Compare broadband providers with Canstar Blue

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