Transitioning to C-Band 5G Indoor Connectivity | Commercial Real Estate Building Owners | Corning

Top 3 Considerations for Building Owners Transitioning to C-band 5G Indoor Connectivity

By Shirish Nagaraj
Published: May 25, 2023

As commercial real estate owners strive to attract tenants in the age of hybrid work, robust connectivity has never been more critical. Once considered an amenity, wireless capability is now an essential factor for productivity—powering everything from collaboration applications to high-bandwidth videos, security, and surveillance systems.

In my work with Corning’s customers, I’ve seen real estate and building owners (REOs) increasingly look to 5G to maximize the valuation of their investments. 5G provides the seamless high-bandwidth connectivity that today’s tenants require. While 5G is shaping the future of mobile connectivity, the mid-band spectrum is critical to deliver its full potential and promise. C-band, which includes frequencies from 4GHz to 8GHz, is proving to be the ideal spectrum as it provides the optimal balance between coverage and capacity needs. This spectrum has been deployed extensively on macros over the past year, but more recently, attention is turning toward in-building networks with a focus on network densification for the best 5G experience.

Funding for these networks often depends on the size of the buildings. Mobile communications infrastructure in buildings greater than 750,000 square feet are typically funded by the mobile network operators (MNOs) themselves. However, buildings in the 250,000–750,000 square-foot range often depend on REO funding, and this is where the most technical guidance is required by the ownership as they look to balance their investment needs with building aesthetics and network performance. For these decisions, Corning can serve as an advisor for REO customers.

While there are many considerations for REOs to weigh when investing in an indoor 5G network, I believe the three most important factors are performance, aesthetics and space, and total cost of ownership (TCO):

Network Performance

C-band is an overlay solution requiring a fiber to the edge (FTTE) architecture to deliver its full potential. The main benefit of C-band and other mid-band spectrums is that they together provide an ideal balance of mobile coverage and capacity. With high speed, bandwidth and capacity, a well-designed and implemented 5G network running on C-band can provide good signal propagation to penetrate building walls effectively.

Making 5G available anywhere in buildings is becoming increasingly critical for unlocking new use cases that rely on 5G’s high availability and low latency. For example, first responders can locate people in emergencies via the 5G network, and hospitals can leverage the network for the delivery of healthcare services including remote monitoring. C-band plays a key role in ensuring there are no dead spots in facilities that could interfere with the execution of such life-saving applications.

Aesthetics and Space

A key consideration for REOs is the space required to deploy an in-building wireless network, ranging from the headend to the telecom closets typically found on each floor. With older DAS solutions, the presence of network elements in hallway and common areas can potentially disrupt pedestrian flow and adversely impact the aesthetics of the interior design.

For example, Coax cabling is used in many traditional DAS deployments, requiring additional closet space for telecom infrastructure with unattractive cabling that is sometimes visible in the ceiling, as well as numerous antennas to provide the necessary coverage across floors. Conversely, 5G networks with all-digital and IP-based FTTE topology require less cabling and telecom closet space, and significantly smaller head-end rooms. Given its ability to penetrate walls, C-band 5G requires only marginally more infrastructure than low-band alternatives. These elements can also be more easily concealed, preserving building aesthetics.

Total Cost of Ownership

C-band networks also offer significant advantages in space and energy savings, greatly lowering operating expenses. New lower-powered radios are emerging that will reduce energy consumption by C-band technology. These next-gen radios will also deliver connectivity from a smaller footprint, especially in head-end and equipment closets, furthering the benefits outlined in the above section. Overall, C-band 5G is poised to provide network owners with the highest return on their investment today and into the future with FTTE architecture.

C-band opens doors to innovative and integrated service offerings for the REO. The ability to converge building services into the fiber network while also connecting to the 5G network will provide tremendous advantages to building owners and helps them set their portfolio apart in the eyes of discerning tenants. As a highly customer-driven organization, Corning is committed to working with our customers to ensure that their technology is well designed and implemented for the long term.

To speak to a Corning representative about installing a customizable in-building network, visit our in-building cellular solutions page. For more information on C-band, visit our “What is C-band” page that delves further into the benefits of modern 5G networks.

Shirish Nagaraj with Corning Optical Communications

Shirish Nagaraj leads technology development for Corning Optical Communications’ Wireless business unit, which delivers world-leading in-building cellular products for Tier-1 operators. He has been instrumental in conceptualizing, architecting, and developing the 5G mmWave small-cell system that is now deployed commercially at high profile stadiums, private enterprises, and other such venues. His team develops radio access network (RAN) and distributed antenna systems (DAS) software and hardware, with development centers in the US, Israel, and India. 

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