5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) is emerging as one of the most powerful 5G use cases and is steadily gaining a stronghold in several geographies. The Middle East region has taken the lead in using FWA to provide high-speed 5G connectivity to a greater number of people.
The Middle East and Africa (MEA) region boasts of more than 1 million 5G FWA subscribers, while Asia has around 390,000 5G FWA subscribers. On the other hand, Western Europe has 200,000 and Eastern Europe 130,000 5G FWA subscribers.
Zain KSA, a prominent service provider in Saudi Arabia, is at the forefront of using 5G networks to provide high-speed FWA connectivity and adding to its revenue streams. This also enables the company to ensure a faster return on investment on setting up its 5G network. Zain was one of the first mobile network operators to set up a 5G network in 2019, and by 2020 it had built one of the largest 5G networks in the Middle East, Africa and Europe region. It had more than one million FWA subscribers, including 4G and 5G, by 2020.
Win-Win situation: Delivering Exceptional Experience and Enhancing Revenue
The continued focus on 5G FWA helped Zain KSA to significantly increase its revenue, since the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) of FWA is nearly three times of mobile phone, and that of 5G FWA is four times that of mobile phone tariff. Zain was able to grow its ARPU to $90 for 5G from just $19 for non-5G.
Further, 5G-powered FWA is helping Zain provide a truly differentiated experience. A testament to this was that Zain was able to acquire the Fastest Fixed network Award from Ookla based on its 5G FWA experience. On average, Zain KSA is able to provide high-speed of an average 250Mbps to its 5G FWA subscribers. This has also contributed to increasing ARPU with differentiated quality of service. It is clearly a win-win situation for the service provider, as it is not only able to provide a superior experience but is also able to significantly increase its revenue.
Being an early adopter of 5G FWA, Zain decided to further leverage its network to provide new and innovative use cases to its subscribers. Take, for example, the case of Zain combining 5G FWA with Over The Top (OTT) video as a package and 5G FWA with CloudGame. Zain’s strong performance in this segment led to it being ranked first in the game mode report issued by the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) for the first quarter of 2021. In addition, Zain recorded the best connectivity performance in four of the most popular video games Fortnite, FIFA 21, APEX Legends, and Dota 2. Zain also developed an FMC package including 5G FWA and mobile phone together to attract subscribers.
Zain continues to focus on FWA and is moving from strength to strength regarding this. The service provider is now targeting to move 4G FWA subscribers to 5G and estimate around 600,000 will move to 5G FWA in the coming year. Additionally, the traffic ratio for 5G continues to grow for Zain touching 27% in Q2 2021.
Its focus on 5G FWA has helped it to record a significant increase in income and profit. Zain KSA delivered a profit of 60 million rials compared to 42 million rials in the second quarter of the same year, recording an increase of 45%. The company’s revenue was SAR 1,984 million, a 4% growth rate in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the second quarter of 2021.
Zain KSA is not the only operator to benefit from 5G FWA in the Middle East region. du, another prominent service provider in UAE, provides 5G network coverage in more than 80% of the country and more than 91% in Dubai, is leveraging 5G FWA to provide fibre-like experience with speeds of up to 100Mbit/s in the entire country. Further, the service provider has adopted the strategy of offering 5G FWA service to the high-end 4G users to bring down the churn rate, increase ARPU and add new subscribers.
5G FWA has emerged as a significant new revenue opportunity for the service providers and is helping them acquire new subscribers in locations and areas where typically it is difficult or too expensive to set up a fibre network, or where the MNO has no fibre. This is especially true in the COVID-19 era when there is an urgent need to extend the benefit of the high-speed broadband network in remote areas. The 5G FWA allows the service providers to provide fibre-like connectivity without laying down fibre optic cable. Service providers in the Middle East, especially Zain KSA and du, are demonstrating the incredible use of 5G FWA for the rapid monetization of 5G investments.