Since the 3G revolution, mobile phones have become the contact mode of choice, eliminating the need for public telephone boxes and reducing the requirement for businesses to use fixed line telephones and fixed internet access.
Small and medium-sized businesses that don’t require a landline or a resilient internet connection, have started to use mobile data contracts to increase the potential mobility of the company, without the need for an expensive connection to be installed onsite. While the rise of VoIP services, that route phone calls through the internet, are also partly to blame, as this also negates the need for physical telephone lines.
4G was a big tipping point for mobile data as businesses could start using wireless connectivity to replace fixed line broadband, with all the benefits of being mobile. Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) boxes have recently acted as a half-way house, where a robust cellular connection is used to provide a physical connection using a hardware device as a ‘transformer’.
FWA is not a new concept. 4G FWA services are currently in use for home and business customers in rural areas and those needing temporary connectivity via a quick and reliable connection, where the delay of installing new fibre cabling to site presents complications.
This has made it easy for nomadic businesses like events companies and caterers, for example, to remove the connectivity and reinstall it when moving to a new location. These services are already in the midst of being upgraded to 5G with Arquiva and Samsung running trials back in 2017.
Now that 5G is starting to be rolled out publicly, we expect to see 5G FWA services coming soon to major cities across the UK, further reducing the need for fixed line access.
Impact on Billing Platforms
For billing platforms, this decline will push more focus and resources to mobile and the ability to create custom tariffs to maximise margins, while providers may have to reassess how to bill data. These questions remain unanswered for now, but the coming months and years will see upheaval, and we are poised to change with the times and provide the best billing platform for now and the future.
Fixed line is not going to vanish overnight though. Its infrastructure still underpins most of the connectivity below our roads and buildings and there are still use-cases that mobile connectivity just isn’t designed for. Data centres and corporate headquarters, as well as areas where large amounts of people need reliable access (conferences, stadia etc) or where nearby buildings such as airports may cause interference, are all still appropriate fixed line scenarios. But, for consumers and the majority of channel/B2B sales, new 5G technologies will start to be prioritised over fixed line in the coming years, and even if mobile connectivity is not a main focus for your business, it should be considered when deciding how to futureproof your business.