The fixed wireless sector is doing well in the unlicensed band, according to “Unlicensed Spectrum,” a report from Allied Business Intelligence (ABI), Oyster Bay, N.Y. Unlicensed operators are currently spearheading the deployment of fixed wireless broadband and will approach 7 million subscribers by the end of 2006.

“Unlicensed has become the entrepreneur's tool of choice for establishing a broadband presence in the local loop,” says report author Andy Fuertes, senior vice president of Communication Electronics Research at ABI. “However, it is being overlooked because many of these installations are by carriers that choose to attract little attention to themselves.”

Aggressive entrepreneurs, competitive local exchange carriers, and ISPs are rolling out systems and showing profits.

Unlicensed is moving faster than other fixed wireless because unlicensed systems reduce the barriers to entry in the market. No license fees are required to telecom regulators, and inexpensive equipment is available. Operators are interested in seizing an opportunity to make profits quickly, and fixed wireless broadband in unlicensed bands allows them to do so — often within 12 months of their initial rollout.

Although many operators deploying fixed wireless are small, their numbers are large. Most existing systems have been rolled out in the 2.4-GHz band, but acceptance is growing at the 900-MHz and, in particular, the 5-GHz to 6-GHz bands. The systems are serving commercial and residential customers.

Details of the study can be found at www.alliedworld.com.