Setting new connectivity standards with 5G
There’s no questioning the importance of 5G in our increasingly interconnected world. Whether it’s at the office or in the home, 5G connectivity is becoming the norm – not the exception – in terms of consumer expectations. As demand continues to grow, service providers must account for potential challenges to ensure customers receive the fast, reliable connections they’ve come to expect.
The evolution of communication technology has always centered on the human need to stay connected. 1G focused on transmitting voice, which was then followed by the addition of text and SMS with 2G. It wasn’t until the incorporation of data and Internet with 3G that we began to see our cellular phones transform. No longer just a way to connect with others, our phones became small computers in our pockets. As 4G was introduced and data transmission became more reliable, we started to use our phones for work, entertainment and more. The newest stage with 5G builds on past infrastructure while supplying the connectivity needed to handle the huge amounts of data we now share every second.
We have also witnessed the impact of COVID-19 on 5G and the role of data sharing in our lives. Mobility became a top priority for consumers as many switched over to a remote, virtual world. Businesses began to see the benefits of 5G not just for their bottom lines, but also for ensuring employees could plug in and perform their jobs anywhere.
We’ve reached a point where Internet access is a part of critical infrastructure; quality Internet connection can be as important as electrical wiring or plumbing. We need reliable data sharing to ensure we can perform tasks every day without worrying about weak signals or high latency. This poses a challenge to service providers today who are having to balance today’s expectations with those years in the making.
How 5G is already impacting our world
The rollout of 5G is ongoing, but already we’re witnessing its impact. For a nationwide deployment, carriers desperately need and are eager for a lot more spectrum in the sub-6 gigahz range. In early 2021, the FCC auctioned part of the C-Band spectrum, which carriers then paid over $80 billion for a portion of. This C-Band spectrum that was auctioned was split into two phases – one will be introduced now (3.7GHz to 3.8GHz) and the other part of the C-Band (3.7-3.98GHz) will be intorducedintroduced by the end of 2023of 2023.
Some of the places we’re seeing 5G introduced in first are public facilities that house large groups of people and therefore have a higher demand for bandwidth. These spaces, such as sporting arenas or college campuses, have to account for thousands of devices all connecting to the network at once. As they incorporate 5G, they’re looking to expand upon the tech infrastructure they already have in place and to find ways to optimize their current systems in order to minimize costs while bringing reliability.
5G is also transforming certain industries and the way businesses operate. Consider manufacturing - companies are increasingly adding 5G coverage to meet their changing data needs. With greater mobility and security than traditional Wi-Fi, 5G supplies stronger connectivity across a factory’s footprint. It also allows more users and devices to connect to the network without worrying it may become too crowded and experience lagging.
There’s also the opportunity for 5G in more innovative applications that require huge amounts of data. Technologies such as augmented reality are among the strongest use cases for 5G. The idea of seeing a virtual landscape through a headset was inconceivable years ago during the earlier stages of the “G’s”, and innovations such as this will continue to turn to 5G to build out applications.
How providers can prepare for the future of 5G
As with any new technological development, service providers are bound to face challenges. The first hurdle for 5G is the higher network density required to build a nationwide network . The current cell tower density for 4G is not sufficient for 5G deployments. This will require more towers or more small cells in dense environments to cast a wider net.
There’s also the challenge of building the actual network infrastructure in a space. Businesses want a system that can grow over time and account for greater bandwidth demand. This means specialty optical fibers will become a mainstay in any network system, especially for 5G.
Another consideration is the cost of power it takes to run 5G. The shift to edge computing is being driven by this need for more power and gives providers more options to supply reliable network connections while also factoring in overhead costs.
Corning has already been helping our customers with the shift to 5G through both our industry expertise and our products . We've been a leader in the specialty optical fiber space for years and continue to provide businesses with solutions that achieve efficiency and affordability. Our distributed antenna systems (DAS) offering is designed specifically with 5G in mind. Through multi-operator support within the building, we’re equipping customers with solutions tailored to their needs that are designed to both evolve and last. Our small cell offering also provides a compact and efficient solution to deploy 5G mmWave inside venues.