Wireless Infrastructure Key to Growing 5G Market

The advent of 5G will soon change the internet, voice, video and data services markets with the deployment of next-gen wireless technologies. As this transition occurs over the next decade, 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) will give way to 5G amid skyrocketing demand for greater bandwidth.

While many companies are already providing some form of fixed wireless for high-speed triple play services (Internet, TV and phone) using standard technologies, Hammer Fiber Optic stands out with its patented Hammer Wireless AIR point-to-multipoint wireless system, which could revolutionize the entire industry's approach to wireless. This would be no small feat considering that other big companies in this space today are operators such as Windstream or veritable household names such as Verizon, AT&T and Alphabet.

IoT and Demand for Faster Data Driving 5G Expansion

Key drivers of the transition to 5G include a burgeoning IoT (internet of things) ecosystem spurred on by the growth of connected smart homes and cities, as well as increasing smartphone use, M2M (mobile to mobile) demands and the need to bridge the so-called digital divide that has left nearly 40 percent of rural Americans without access to broadband internet. The extremely aggressive deregulatory stance of the FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai is increasingly focused on eliminating unnecessary barriers to the efficient deployment of wireless infrastructure. This is great news for the telecom industry, and the $118 billion U.S. ISP (internet service provider) market could be the biggest beneficiary.

IoT and other digital networking advancements in agritech, for instance, allow farmers across rural America to perform a wide variety of sophisticated tasks, such as monitoring the health of individual animals or plants. But without broadband wireless connectivity, the fruits of such advancements are nearly impossible to fully realize. Global outlays for IoT infrastructure are on track to hit a whopping $1.7 trillion by 2020, according to a recent report by IDC, maintaining a 19.2 percent CAGR, even as telecoms here in the United States spend $150 billion or more upgrading to 5G.

Unique, Patented Hardware Sets Innovators Apart

Hammer Fiber Optics’ patented AIR System was designed around and is based on ultra-high-frequency MMDS (multichannel multipoint distribution system), utilizing frequency division duplexing for upstream and downstream (200 MHz spacing). This enables a single transmission to be shared by multiple independent signals. With such efficient use of the spectrum, Hammer's AIR System can handle two separate signals at once across a wide range of frequencies (from 3 GHz to 39 GHz) meaning spectrum in different frequencies and channels can be processed by one transceiver. This pre-5G platform is DOCSIS 3.0 compliant and is scalable to DOCSIS 3.1, allowing for speeds of 1 Gb/s and up.

Using a simple, roof-mounted, bidirectional transceiver dish that is then connected to standard in-home hardware such as a cable modem or gateway via coaxial cable, Hammer Fiber Optics' solution is an ingenious marriage of cutting-edge wireless transmission technology and the kind of equipment most consumers already have in their homes. The company has already deployed this technology on Absecon Island, including Atlantic City, N.J., with happy customers seeing speeds around 300-plus Mbps downstream (100 Mbps upstream). The recent announcement that the company concluded initial development of its advanced LTE fixed wireless system means Hammer is now poised to become a leader in 5G as the standard emerges.

Designed to complement Hammer's core business of home residential services, this Fixed LTE version of its already successful DOCSIS platform will enable the company to offer ultra-high capacity cellular broadband applications. This development puts Hammer in the running to provide wholesale services including backhaul support for cellular network operators to both mainstream LTE operators and competitive carriers. Moreover, the company further distinguished itself with a recent move to acquire 1stPoint Communications, LLC, and its subsidiaries, a company that is focused on providing integrated messaging, voice, data and mobile services to the small business, enterprise and carrier markets.

Forget Fixed and Mobile 5G  

The subsequent announcement that Hammer and 1stPoint have launched an MNSP (mobile network service provider) program aimed at wireless internet service providers and cable operators in second- and third-tier markets means that the company should be able to quickly expand its subscriber base by offering high-speed wireless triple play service to residential communities and small businesses. Hammer's founder, Mark Stogdill, was keen to point out how the company now stands ready to support not only residential access networks but also empower customers such as carriers and municipalities to deploy a variety of applications through the company's network. The MNSP program enables an "everything wireless" approach that could potentially shatter the existing triple play-saturated market paradigm.

This is a watershed moment for Hammer as the company may be in a great position to springboard off its successful deployment of the AIR System into a data-hungry nationwide, as well as global, market. Its AIR System is now looking to many industry analysts like it may be the ideal solution for everything from bridging the digital divide in underserved rural communities to addressing increasingly abundant data roaming opportunities and M2M concerns. This innovative, patented technology represents what could be a major advantage for the company, as no one in the industry today offers what Hammer is already doing.

The global 5G market is set to run at an astounding 97 percent CAGR from 2020, when it is predicted to largely supplant 4G, climbing to around $251 billion by 2025. With its strong footing due to its advanced hardware offering, Hammer may be able to carve out a sizeable piece of this pie. Investors may want to keep an eye on this compelling up-and-comer.

Other Major Players' Efforts Accelerating Towards 5G 

Windstream Holdings recently announced a $2 million investment in high-speed Kinetic Internet services for Lexington, Kentucky. This regional market is bedrock for Windstream, and the company is shrewdly doubling down by increasing the number of households receiving 50 Mbps connections to some 80,000 households. The company also joined several other high-profile signatories recently in the submission of a compromise approach proposal to the FCC for priority access licenses in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) 3.5 GHz spectrum, a move that would arguably make the CBRS band an important vehicle for helping the United States sustain leadership in communications technologies such as 5G.

Verizon announced plans in 2017 to implement fixed 5G services in three to five U.S. cities this year. It is chomping at the bit to beat rivals to the 5G market trough and will be deploying the company's solution to customers' homes and offices via nearby standard cell sites. It also recently announced plans to launch residential broadband services through 5G fixed wireless in more than the initial proposed five geographies starting sometime in 2019. Verizon will reportedly be targeting the sprawling L.A. market, as well as Sacramento, for the 5G rollout starting in the fourth quarter of this year, in conjunction with the rollout of the carrier's proprietary V5GTF customer premises equipment.

AT&T CFO John Stephens recently cast some doubts on the value of fixed 5G services for the company, arguing that while AT&T had tested fixed 5G, the opportunity is something that the company would have to prove out. Apparently, Stephens sees backhaul, a key component to any fixed wireless 5G service, as something more easily addressed for AT&T via the company's growing fiber network. Nevertheless AT&T has spent two years preparing for the 5G launch and plans to have 5G-capable devices to customers this year. The company launched its first enterprise 5G trial in Austin, Texas, a year and a half ago and subsequently expanded those services to three other cities across the country. It announced plans in April to launch its proprietary 5G Evolution technology to an upwardly revised total of 141 markets and said last year that the company would deploy mobile 5G to customers in a dozen cities.

Alphabet Inc, the parent company of Google, was recently mentioned as a potential streaming partner for Verizon via Google's YouTube TV, a partnership that would help accelerate 5G adoption. The company also supports the Citizens Broadband Radio Service and appears to many analysts to be intent on advocating for a new way to divvy up spectrum that would promote innovative business models and shared infrastructure. A shared use spectrum model makes sense for the company, as Alphabet would otherwise have to compete directly with wireless and wired ISPs that already possess sizeable fiber networks and wireless spectrum licenses.

While many companies tout new user hardware and 5G innovation, Hammer Fiber Optic stands out as a technological innovator in distribution technology, and the company appears to have a distinct advantage even compared to sector majors. The race to capture fixed and mobile 5G market share is clearly on, and investors should be watching the activities of a company such as Hammer that may have a transformative impact on the entire industry.