During the past years, wireless carriers have silently (or not) gained quite an advantage over the wireline providers.
Not too long ago the only way for a solely wireless carriers to be able to provide fixed service was to acquire smaller wireline providers and take advantage of their infrastructure and expand its fixed footprint that way. The other option was to offer fixed wireless access that had nowhere near the capacities needed to be competitive enough with cable, FTTH or even DSL providers.
With arrival of new LTE based fixed wireless solutions this has now changed. Wireless carriers have the possibility to provide fixed access seamlessly as it is integrated into their core networks and there is an abundance of fixed standard LTE equipment out there.
The situation is virtually the same for WISPs as well. Until recently they had little to no competition in their rural markets as it was too costly for the wireline providers to enter those markets and not really worth it for the wireless carriers as their equipment was not better enough then the WiFi based solutions most WISPs are running.
But this is not the only thing that has changed. With the arrival of services like Netflix, the need for speed and bandwidth for users in both rural and urban areas has increased dramatically and there is no difference where the end customer is physically located. They all want the same. WiFi based solutions with their limitations in regard to customers connected and especially throughput will have a really hard time to compete against the more and more aggressive approaches to all markets by the wireless carriers.
Wireline providers will have to start considering fixed wireless as an additional access network to their existing ones if they will want to remain competitive. And the larger WISPs will have to start looking for technologies, which are future proof and have the capacity needed to meet the customer demands that will only grow bigger. The key is time and the CAPEX investment. Wireless carriers CAPEX investment is significantly smaller than it is for wireline providers to expand their networks. Not to mention the time involved. Permissions, trenching, cable laying,.. all of that takes a lot of time where the fixed wireless access networks can be deployed in literally days.
Obviously, some wireline providers will merge with wireless carriers but not everyone can or wants to merge. And apart from that, governments are looking for competitive environments, especially in telecoms so not all mergers will even be approved.
In a few years 5G will be ready and that will be a serious game changer that will make it even harder for providers, like we know them today, to compete. So the time to react is now. With future proof fixed wireless technologies that have the capacities needed to support mass deployments and a large customer amount per base station but still those customers can watch Netflix in one room, Youtube in the other, work in the third and watch standard TV downstairs.
If the wireline providers and both medium and larger WISPs do not react today, sooner rather than later they will be acquired by the wireless carriers or at least immensely struggle with their market shares.