By now, you’ve probably heard that 5G wireless is coming, and it will be something like a miracle – download a movie in 45 seconds on an iPhone12, connect robots so they can work in sync in a warehouse, let musicians in different places play a concert together with the precision of a live show.
But it won’t be such a miracle if it doesn’t work indoors. Unlike 4G cellular, the fastest 5G, called millimeter-wave (or mmWave), will have more difficulty going through many walls. Yet about 80% of all mobile traffic happens indoors. If the technology is going to transform work and everyday life, offices, factories, apartment towers, and other buildings will need to install indoor systems to propagate 5G inside and then carry the traffic outside.
It’s a challenging problem. The key to opening up all the blazing-fast, high-capacity promises of 5G is to get 5G indoor radio nodes close to users and machines, yet fewer than 10% of buildings have a dedicated indoor cellular system in place. Because every building and use case is different, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Many indoor wireless products tend to either be enormous – sized for stadiums, for example – or small boosters that can’t handle weighty enterprise applications.
Corning is the first to solve that problem. Corning invented low-loss optical fiber in 1970, perfected the technology, and has been the world’s dominant supplier of fiber-optic cable and systems for the past 50 years. The company knows how to design products that carry the bulk of the world’s data, whether across continents or around buildings. Corning began building systems that connect wireless communication to fiber lines. Building 5G systems is a natural extension of the company’s ethos of continually expanding the ability to move around exploding amounts of data and communication.
In September 2020, Verizon announced it had completed lab trials of Corning’s 5G in-building small cell (mmWave) solutions. That announcement follows a 2017 purchase agreement for a minimum of $1 billion of Corning’s optical solutions over three years as part of Verizon’s 5G rollout.
Now, the Corning mmWave in-building technology will allow Verizon to bring 5G into hospitals, manufacturing facilities, schools, ports, retail stores, and residential complexes.
Corning has also announced collaborations with Intel and Qualcomm as it works to bring 5G to the public.
Once installed, a 5G mmWave indoor system will mean much more than speedy downloads or multiplayer game play on an iPhone12 or Samsung Galaxy S20. It will create private, secure, highly reliable, blazing-speed, low-latency networks that will have a profound impact on business in a variety of use cases.