Fixed wireless access is essential to bank branch network flexibility.

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Katherine Hill, Head of Financial Services Vertical Marketing, T-Mobile for Business

Retail banks are facing new challenges in 2023: network infrastructure upgrades and bank consolidation in response to a number of factors.

According to Gartner, when it comes to branch connectivity, the rush to embrace cloud IT, the growing number of hybrid work policies, and the ever-increasing demand for more bandwidth fuel investment in enterprise data networks.

Along those lines, Gartner predicts that by 2025, 40% of enterprise locations will use internet access as their only wide-area network, compared to just 25% in 2022. Enterprise spending on 5G-based fixed wireless access is expected to grow from $0.7 billion in 2023 to $3.5 billion in 2025. Why is wireline connectivity becoming less desirable, and how fixed wireless access (FWA) can better support branch office connectivity?

Wireline disadvantages

Wireline connectivity has its limitations.

Although physical branches are still essential for customer interaction, especially for high-net-worth individuals, flexibility is critical under current economic uncertainty. Building or upgrading the network infrastructure for a branch using a wireline system can be costly and require a lengthy installation process. Wireline investments also burden a branch’s income statement with additional costs that it must cover.

Over time, wireline solutions can be harder to scale and can require upgrading, which comes with additional costs and inconvenience. Customer support and pricing can also present challenges, especially if the wireline provider fails to meet agreed-upon service level commitments and increases their prices with no corresponding improvements in service.

FWA benefits

Fixed Wireless Access: fast, and scalable.

While legacy wireline solutions rely on costly hardware and physical infrastructure, degrade over time, and are expensive at scale, 5G makes an innovative branch connectivity solution possible. FWA, which delivers internet service wirelessly to a static location, such as a branch, offers financial institutions purpose-built connectivity.

FWA offers network flexibility, eliminating the limits on upgrading branch networks caused by the unavailability or high installation cost of wireline service. It’s also far easier to deploy. Instead of requiring significant upfront capital expenditure, FWA qualifies as an operating expense.

When it comes to installation, FWA requires placing a router in a location that disperses the signal wirelessly. Due to its simplicity, FWA does not require extensive IT support to deploy. It can also be easily expanded or contracted in response to changing business realities.

While FWA can serve as the primary means of branch connectivity, it can also function as a failover in larger offices or even headquarters. This mitigates some of the risks of a changing footprint and minimizes the likelihood of a network failure impacting revenue.

Branch connectivity

Connectivity to support branch networks.

Revitalizing a branch network requires significant investment and meticulous planning. This includes securing access to prime real estate, completing construction, and establishing a market presence ahead of competitors. Branch connectivity should not become an additional stumbling block during expansion. Reducing operational costs and capital expenditures is equally essential during branch consolidation.

Fixed wireless access offers a fast, convenient, and secure way to connect branches while minimizing the demands on the IT department during deployment. It also keeps banks nimble—allowing them to scale up or down as outside economic forces dictate.

At T-Mobile for Business, we’re focused on providing your business with connectivity solutions and the dedicated, exceptional service you need to help you stay ahead.

About the author:

Katherine Hill.
Katherine Hill has over 20 years of experience in the financial services sector, including work with banks, brokerages, and investment managers. Her consistent business focus is driving growth and reducing risk through better technology.

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