5G deployment possible by 2020 – not a rural panacea

I’ve heard a lot of talk about 5G playing a role in broadband deployment. The implications are exciting but it won’t be a panacea and it is still being tested. It sounds like it will be a good last mile technology for densely populated areas. It will also be good for the Internet of Things. It will help keep driverless cars from crashing into each other.

It will help bring a George Jetson looking world to cities. It’s fast with low latency, but the reach is small and the cost (more infrastructure such as fiber required) so the ROI requires densely populated areas.

Finley Engineering put out a nice flier on 5G; here are some of the highlights:

What is the goal of 5G?

There are many 5G network goals, but the priorities include the ability to provide much higher bandwidth, much lower latency, congestion avoidance, and support for emerging IoT applications.

What does 5G mean?

To understand 5G today, you have to separate the marketing term 5G from the technology term 5G. While there has been significant discussion and announcements regarding 5G and its capabilities, the actual technology and the standards it will follow have yet to be determined. There is ongoing 5G technology and standards work from global organizations, including the ITU, GSMA, and 3GPP, among others, to formally define the technology and its capabilities. True 5G standards aren’t expected to emerge until at least 2020.

What are the limitations?

  • True 5G standards aren’t expected to emerge until at least 2020.
  • This initial 5G spectrum is concentrated in the so called millimeter wave (mmWave) band. The mmWave reach is two miles.
  • More infrastructure is required for 5G.

Is there a role for 5G in rural areas?

It sounds like 5G will increase the need for fiber, maybe provide another partner to share fiber costs. Also it can support call centers, data centers, manufacturers – applications where the need is condensed.

Here’s what Finley says…

Beyond the wireless broadband opportunity for wireless carriers, 5G presents many opportunities for wireline as well. The most obvious is leveraging fi ber networks for backhaul. This is an attractive business today, but will only get better with 5G. The network densifi cation required by 5G will mean many more sites will need fi ber backhaul, and it’s not just traditional wireless towers. Hundreds of sites, including the use of small cells and DAS sites, will be needed to cover a 5G area that may have only needed 20 to 30 towers in a 4G environment. These sites will more likely than not require optical wavelength services over traditional Ethernet, due to low latency requirements. These low latency requirements may drive additional rural carrier opportunities including increased demand for edge computing in the form of localized small scale data centers. One millisecond or less response times generally means servers for these applications need to be within 150 miles, traveling over fiber. That may drive demand for more edge computing infrastructure in rural markets.

This entry was posted in Wireless by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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