There’s been a lot of talk surrounding the arrival of the fifth generation of mobile broadband, or 5G as it’s more commonly referred. Most of that talk has revolved around faster speeds in terms of downloading or uploading information as well as data latency — the amount of time it takes mobile devices to communicate with each other over wireless networks.
While it’s great news that 5G’s presence will yield faster speeds when it comes to all things wireless, there’s so much more to explore about this next generation of broadband than how fast a user can upload a video. It’s not just enough to know that 5G is here—to truly leverage it, it’s also important to understand what exactly 5G is, how it works, how it will benefit CRE owners and more.
What is 5G exactly? Simply put, 5G is the next generation of mobile broadband that will eventually replace or augment users’ current 4G LTE connection. It is engineered to vastly increase wireless networks’ speed and responsiveness. As the new platform for mobile broadband, 5G will allow data to be transmitted over wireless broadband connections at rates as high as 20 Gbps and offer latency of 1 ms or lower. Additionally, 5G will enable more data to be transmitted over wireless systems, as more bandwidth and advanced antenna technology are deployed both indoors and outdoors.
5G is expected to elevate the mobile network to interconnect and control machines, objects and devices along with people. It will also deliver new levels of performance and efficiency that will empower new user experiences and connect new types of industries.
5G: HOW IT WILL WORK
Multiple spectrum bands will be useful to 5G. For instance, millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum is one option carriers may use to transmit 5G signals. In these cases, 5G signals will be transmitted from thousands of small cells placed in spots like light poles or rooftops. Using multiple small cells to transmit these signals will be critical. Why? Because small cells are low power. Also, when using mmWave spectrum, high-band signals travel an extremely short distance and are easily blocked by metal, glass and wood. In fact, mmWave is even vulnerable to interference from weather.
“Currently, the wireless industry is looking into using multiple frequency bands for 5G networks so operators can leverage the spectrum they already have to build out their own networks. Using low-, mid- and high-band spectrum will also allow operators to avoid MM wave spectrum challenges relating to distance and interference.”
However, mmWave spectrum is just one way for carriers to transmit 5G signals.
Previous wireless technology generations have used lower-frequency bands of spectrum. Currently, the wireless industry is looking into using multiple frequency bands for 5G networks so operators can leverage the spectrum they already have to build out their own networks. Using low-, mid- and high-band spectrum will also allow operators to avoid MM wave spectrum challenges relating to distance and interference. The downside is that lower-frequency spectrum can reach further distances, but it’s slower and has less capacity than mmWave.
“Some of this is physics – millimeter wave spectrum has great potential in terms of speed and capacity, but it doesn’t travel far from the cell site and doesn’t penetrate materials at all,” T-Mobile Chief Technology Office Neville Ray wrote in April. “It will never materially scale beyond small pockets of 5G hotspots in dense urban environments.”
5G: THE BENEFITS
There should be no shortage of benefits to having 5G readily available. First, 5G presents a new, enhanced mobile broadband network. Such a network will support a variety of devices, and services and well as connect new industries with improved performance, efficiency and cost. 5G could redefine numerous industries that rely on connected services like retail, entertainment, transportation and education.
Secondly, 5G presents numerous benefits from both an economic and job creation standpoint. According to a Qualcomm 5G economy study, 5G’s full economic effect will be realized worldwide by 2035, as it will support a variety of industries and potentially produce up to $12 trillion worth of goods and services. Meanwhile, the 5G value chain is expected to generate up to $3.5 trillion in overall aggregate revenue by 2035 and support up to 22 million jobs.
5G: T-MOBILE AND ITS MULTI-SPECTRUM STRATEGY
All of the major wireless carriers are in a race to provide its customers with 5G, and T-Mobile is no exception. T-Mobile has made 5G available in a handful of U.S. cities during the middle part of 2019 and has its sights set on offering 5G all across the U.S. by 2020. And while T-Mobile has the goal of deploying 5G nationwide in common with its competitors, how the “Un-Carrier” will do so separates it from the pack.
While AT&T and Verizon are deploying their respective mobile 5G on mmWave spectrum, and Sprint is doing so on its extensive 2.5 GHz, mid-band spectrum, T-Mobile will use a variety of frequency bands for its 5G deployment. The carrier will have a 5G network on high band like Verizon and AT&T, mid-band like Sprint.
T-Mobile also plans to deliver broad 5G on low-band spectrum. In July, the carrier worked with Qualcomm and Ericsson to achieve the world’s first low-band 5G data session on a 5G modem. The data session was conducted on 600MHz, which T-Mobile plans to use for a more reliable connection for customers outside of urban areas. With a 600MHz low band spectrum T-Mobile can offer a wider coverage area and more significant signal penetration in buildings than mmWave spectrum. Additionally, by deploying low band spectrum, T-Mobile will be able to expand its 5G network faster by leveraging its existing 4G LTE assets and infrastructure.
T-Mobile’s reason for having a multi-spectrum strategy is simple—it intends to have a nationwide 5G network and that will be a lot easier to deploy with multiple bands of spectrum. The carrier envisions using its high spectrum in urban dense neighborhoods, mid-band in urban and suburban areas and its low-band spectrum in some suburban and rural areas—and apply the 5G standard to all of those bands.
“Is mmWave spectrum important? Absolutely,” Ray wrote in April. “But real, game-changing, innovation driving 5G requires broad and deep nationwide coverage. And that can only be achieved by using all spectrum bands. We’re going to do this right—and when it’s ready for our customers. (We’re going to do it) in a way that allows us to bring the benefits of 5G to the whole country. We believe the country needs 5G for all. And that’s too important. We are going to get it right.”