Tarana Wireless, Inc.

ngFWA vs Fiber: TCO Analysis

ngFWA delivers gigabit speeds at a fraction of the cost of other technologies, making it a cost-effective complement to fiber, and a solution for endgame broadband.

Broadband operators have a choice of options when it comes to technologies for their network. Selection is typically based on a number of factors, one of which is total cost of ownership (TCO). Ideally, the network should meet all technical requirements (speed, time to market, etc.) while being economically viable in both the short and long term. TCO, however, can vary dramatically depending on the technology. In a recent analysis, next-generation fixed wireless access (ngFWA) was shown to be 50% or less than what an all-fiber network approach would require over a 50-year period while delivering gigabit speeds.

Total Cost of Ownership Example

For our example, we use a rural setting of 750 households spread across 25 square miles (65 square kilometers) of hilly, sparsely populated terrain. This is a population density of 30 households per square mile (12 households per square kilometer).

Considering the distance and challenging terrain, we estimate the cost of deploying fiber to be $10,000 per household passed with an additional $150 to connect each household. This number is based on a formula included in a 2019 FTTH study with an additional 25% added to reflect more difficult terrain and inflation. A number of articles and studies bear out this number or even put it on the low end for this type of deployment. For specifics, please see the complete paper which is available for download.

For wireless, we deploy Tarana’s ngFWA G1 platform using 3 towers, each with 4 sectors. The total capital expenditure includes 12 sectors and construction for 2 new towers at a cost of $100,000 each. The cost to connect each household is also included.

With this information, we can calculate capital costs as follows:

Fiber
ngFWA
Cost per household passed
$10,000
$475
Additional cost to connect household
$150
$600
Total per household connected
$10,150
$1,075
Grand Total (750 HH connected)
$7.6M
$806,000

In this example, the cost to deploy ngFWA is 10% that of fiber. Of course these numbers represent year one expenses. Fiber is often touted as “future-proof” with a projected lifetime of 50 years although this does not include the electronics which would likely need to be upgraded several times during that period.

Even if the wireless network is upgraded 5 times over the next 50 years (which is not needed to achieve gigabit speeds in year 1), ngFWA is still more cost-effective than an all-fiber network:

Fiber
ngFWA
Cost per household connected
$10,150 + 4 x $300 (upgrades)
$1,075 x 5
Cost over 50 years (750 HH connected)
$8.5M
$4M

With these parameters, a Tarana G1 deployment is 47% of the cost of an all-fiber solution over 50 years. This represents material savings that can be used to increase return on investment (ROI) or be reinvested into the infrastructure elsewhere. 

Operators interested in deploying cost-effective broadband should look no further than Tarana’s G1, a next-generation fixed wireless access product that delivers endgame connectivity at gigabit speeds with better economics (50% or less) than fiber both in the short and long term.

For more information, download the entire analysis here.

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