Expanded Bandwidth to Support 5G in FCC’s Sights

The bandwidth required for 5G is estimated to entail a 10–100 fold increase over current provisioning for 4G. In his first official address on October 26, recently confirmed FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr called for the streamlining and fast-tracking of 5G infrastructure buildout. Carr outlined his hope that the agency can this year begin “eliminating a number of unnecessary paperwork requirements.”

What’s Coming

Industry analysts have noted that the data explosion driven by trends like the Internet of Things and the continued expansion of UCaaS make preparing for 5G an urgent priority. Carr, who likely will lead the FCC’s wireless infrastructure efforts, projects preparations “could mean $275 billion in network investment, three million new jobs and a half a trillion dollars added to the GDP.”

To increase the amount of spectrum available to wireless providers, he suggested an “all-of-the-above” approach to include a variety of wireless providers. He also emphasized apprenticeships and job training programs to ensure that the highly trained workforce necessary to build the 5G infrastructure is in place in sufficient time.

Barriers and Regulations

Recently, many carriers have expressed concern about siting barriers and zoning regulations locally and at the state level. These obstacles, the carriers argue, inhibit progress. In addition, carriers such as T-Mobile contend that “exorbitant” site fees prevent market expansion. As recently as March, fellow carrier Verizon pled with the FCC to help clear a municipal “minefield” of regulations around small cell deployments in advance of 5G.

Changing Infrastructure Needs

Another potential hurdle in the race to 5G is carriers needing to enhance and expand infrastructure to meet the performance requirements of 5G networks. While the exact specifications around 5G are yet to be defined, carriers agree 5G will represent a significant increase over 4G in terms of speed, stability and versatility.

Currently, it is planned that 5G networks will operate in a high-frequency band of the spectrum, between 30 GHz and 300 GHz. While waves in these spectrums are capable of carrying large amounts of data at tremendous speeds, the distances the waves travel are shorter than those in 4G networks. To enable 5G coverage, carriers will require many more towers and antennae.

What This Means for Business

The promise of 5G will be fulfilled, and regulatory streamlining no doubt can speed the transition. Increased capacity and data transmission rates mean more of everything that drives your business, especially communication and collaboration. With faster transfer speeds — hundreds of megabits per second versus the tens of megabits per second currently available with 4G — increased reliability and lower latency will lead to seamless connectivity of devices and business applications, a more distributed workforce, accelerated innovation and unprecedented growth. The possibilities are endless.

For additional insights about preparations for a successful 5G rollout, see our recent blog post, “Are We Ready for 5G?”