There are more internet technologies available to businesses than ever before. Unless, of course, your business is based in a rural area where your options are severely limited. One of the few good options available to businesses in rural areas is fixed wireless. Fixed wireless promises superfast speeds, even if you’re in the middle of nowhere. But does this incur significant costs?
How much does fixed wireless cost? Fixed wireless usually costs £65 – £145+ depending on the bandwidth you need and whether the connection is contended.
As part of researching this blog post, I’ve spoken to numerous microwave-based fixed wireless providers in the UK. Thanks to these discussions, I’ve determined several factors that influence how much fixed wireless will cost your business. Throughout the rest of this post, I’ll explain these factors and why the cost of fixed wireless fluctuates because of them.
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Factors That Impact The Price Of Fixed Wireless
As I said above, several factors will influence how much fixed wireless will cost your business. For example, these variables can impact the price of fixed wireless:
- Bandwidth Needed
- Frequencies Used
- Your Setup
I’m going to explain these variables in more detail. I’ll also try to give you a bit of background on how big an influence each factor has on the price of a fixed wireless connection.
Fixed wireless broadband speeds can differ greatly, with several providers offering speeds from 40Mbps to 1,000Mbps. With such a wide range of speeds available, the price of a fixed wireless connection will differ greatly depending on your bandwidth requirements.
After speaking to several UK-based fixed wireless providers, I was able to gather some ballpark figures that give us a clue as to what you’ll pay for certain speeds.
The above estimations are based on information from 5 UK-based providers. The data give us a rough idea of how much fixed wireless will cost your business. For guaranteed speeds of 40Mbps, you can expect to pay around £145 per month minimum. For speeds of 100Mbps, expect to pay around £245 minimum. If you’re looking at 200Mbps, the price will be approximately £350 at least. The most you’ll pay for 40Mbps is around £200 per month with most providers. For 200Mbps per month, the majority of providers charge less than £500.
These prices are based on the presumption that you choose an uncontended fixed wireless package offering speed guarantees. They’re also subject to survey, as location can affect the price of a fixed wireless service. A contended connection will be much cheaper (around the £65 – £100 mark), but speed and reliability guarantees are necessary for the vast majority of companies.
The vast majority of internet services are contended, which is why providers only offer ‘up to’ speeds on the majority of their products. With fixed wireless you have a choice: your connection can be contended or uncontended. As with most things, choosing between a contended and uncontended connection really comes down to how much you are willing to pay.
An uncontended fixed wireless connection will cost your business much more than a contended one. To find out how great the price difference is, I asked several providers that offer both types. Contended fixed wireless connections with no speed guarantees will usually cost around £65 per month. With most providers, you’ll get speeds similar to what you would get with FTTC (up to 80Mbps downstream and 20Mbps upstream).
On the other hand, uncontended fixed wireless internet is typically priced around £145 per month for guaranteed speeds. The price will vary considerably depending on the speeds you require. Uncontended fixed wireless internet is essentially a wireless leased line. You can choose speeds ranging from 40Mbps to 1,000Mbps and these speeds will be assured.
So how important is it to choose contended broadband? Well, it really depends on the contention ratio. The contention ratio tells us how many other properties are using the same data capacity on a provider’s line. So if the contention ratio is 20:1, this means 20 other properties are also using the same line from the provider. If that’s a 100Mbps line, you might only get speeds of around 5Mbps downstream at peak times even if you’re paying for much higher ‘up to’ speeds. If your business needs consistent speeds, only an uncontended connection will suffice.
Fixed wireless broadband services use radio antennas to establish a connection. The mast transmitting to your building will have an antenna on or in it, and your provider will fit a receiver to your property to establish the connection. These radio antennas are generally designed to be used in the unlicensed ISM band radio frequency bands (900 MHz, 1.8GHz, 2.4GHz and 5 GHz). However, this can affect the reliability of fixed wireless internet due to congestion in highly populated areas or at peak times.
A workaround for problems with congestion is using licensed frequencies rather than unlicensed frequencies. Licensed frequencies are often used for commercial installations as they help providers to ensure QoS (Quality of Service). Licensed frequencies can be highly beneficial to large businesses, as a provider can offer higher connection speeds over a licensed frequency.
As you may have guessed, using a licensed frequency for fixed wireless will incur an extra cost. The price of a licensed frequency can be anything from £100 to £20,000 depending on your location and the band popularity. This is a substantial amount of money for some businesses and unaffordable for many. However, for businesses needing an ultra-reliable fixed wireless connection, it’s essential in some areas.
As I’ve written about in the past, fixed wireless broadband can be very reliable. However, it can be equally unreliable if it isn’t set up correctly. With all types of broadband, it’s important to remember that not all providers are made equal, with some providers putting more effort into ensuring your connection is reliable than others.
How necessary is it for your business to have reliable internet? Some businesses can cope with intermittent connectivity and slower speeds at peak times. However, if always-reliable internet is necessary for your business, a robust network is essential. As you may expect, the more robust your network, the greater the cost.
So, the way that your fixed wireless connection is set up can impact how much you’ll pay for your connection. If you have numerous dishes and backup connections, your business will obviously pay more than a business just needing one dish and no fail-over connection.
When setting up fixed wireless for big commercial operations, providers will ensure robustness in several ways. Ensuring a robust and reliable fixed wireless connection really comes down to using licensed frequencies, having backup connections and using the best technology. But, these things cost money and are variables to consider when working out how much a fixed wireless connection will cost your business.
So, How Much Will Fixed Wireless Cost Your Business?
Without knowing the particular requirements of your business, it’s difficult to say how much fixed wireless will cost your business. It all comes down to the provider you choose, how fast your connection needs to be, and how reliant you are on your internet access. I’ve worked with many providers in the past, and here are some of the questions that a provider will normally ask to determine what type of service is best for your business:
- “How many employees do you have?”
- “What do you use the internet for on a day to day basis?”
- “Do you use cloud services, or other essential services reliant on a stable connection?”
If you do rely on your broadband and your business cannot function without it, or you are running a large business with lots of employees, a fixed wireless connection is likely to cost in excess of £145 per month. The exact amount you pay will depend on the way the network is set up. It’s likely you’ll end up paying substantially more as you’ll likely need backup connections, assured speeds and guaranteed fix times should something go wrong.
If you are working from home, or you run a small business with light internet usage, you should expect to pay around £65 per month for fixed wireless broadband. For £65 per month, you can expect speeds on par with fibre to the cabinet broadband. Although everything depends on your distance for the mast, congestion in the area and the contention ratio of the connection, fixed wireless internet may still be more reliable and fast than other connections available in your area.