What does 2020 look like for 5G?

2019 was a great start for 5G, making its debut to many larger communities. There are now over 6,700 5G deployments across 105 5G operators worldwide. [1] 5G deployments will only increase in 2020 and many new locations will receive the faster network.

5G deployments are currently very targeted; by location, by spectrum frequency, or by the solutions offered. 2020 will bring along rapid expansion to global 5G deployments. Communities further down on the 5G build-out list will start to see the newer, faster service available. These are exciting times for both businesses and local communities.

So what makes 5G so exciting? One big factor is speed: the network promises speeds between 10 to 100 times faster than the fastest 4G and allows more rapid transfers of larger amounts of data. It also promises significant increases in traffic capacity, improved network efficiency and expects to dramatically reduce latency by as much as 90%. [2]

Wireless experts are already anticipating a jump in 5G enabled mobile phone sales due to the new network. Many consumers have been holding off on upgrading to 5G-enabled phones until service becomes available in their region.

Wireless operators globally have been preparing for 5G for quite some time by educating consumers about the benefits of 5G along with developing their own 5G rollout plan communication strategy. There’s a big push for businesses to make the jump to 5G. The “Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband” is the company’s 5G rollout specifically aimed at businesses, promising again much faster speeds than today’s 4G network. T-Mobile is levering its 600MHz spectrum for the 5G rollout in the US. The LTE-like spectrum travels relatively far allowing T-Mobile to deploy 5G over a large area of the US.

The real winners though with 5G are going to be businesses and institutions that can benefit from faster speeds. Everyone from medical centers to schools to makers of connected hardware like ‘wearables’ and others. It will make the promised “Internet of Things” even more tangible and encourage an endless amount of creativity and innovation based on the lower-latency, high-speed network. 

The Challenges of 5G

One of the logistical challenges facing a full roll-out of 5G service is that it doesn’t require the same types of cell towers as 4G or earlier network standards. Instead, 5G cell sites are generally smaller and less intrusive and noticeable than 4G towers, however, more of them are needed throughout a geographic region in order to provide comprehensive coverage to users. It’s been estimated that tens of thousands of small cell sites are needed to make 5G a standard. 

Compared to the large cell towers, a 5G small cell site is small enough to fit on a light pole or traffic signal. They are often disguised to blend in with their surroundings instead of being an eye-sore.

This is where Md7 plays a critical role in helping wireless operators worldwide manage their cell sites and rapidly deploy their 5G networks. Like 4G and other data networks, 5G still requires a physical location for the network equipment, along with all of the infrastructure to power and “light up” the equipment. While the real estate needs for 5G small cell sites can be different than those of other networks, it’s still real estate and requires much of the same administration and optimization.

Real estate locations for 5G still require lease agreements with property owners and landlords. These locations still need fiber, power and other utilities to operate, along with jurisdiction approval. Unlike the traditional cell towers for 4G and other networks, a lot more of these small cell sites are required for 5G. This puts a strain of the wireless operators to efficiently secure, deploy and manage all of these 5G locations.

Md7 has extensive experience within the telecommunications industry along with local knowledge within many communities around the world. Md7 has developed specialized software solutions tailored specifically for the wireless industry to help mobile network operators acquire, upgrade, and manage their network real estate to maximize the value of their assets.

The up-front capital investment for mobile network operators to fully embrace 5G is enormous. The way networks have been deployed and managed in the past won’t be sufficient for 5G deployments. The insatiable consumer demand for mobile data and faster speeds are forcing the mobile network operators to change the way their networks are being deployed and operated.

Md7 is perfectly positioned to help mobile network operators around the globe acquire, operate, manage and optimize the necessary network real estate for 5G. Without a new deployment model for global networks, 2020 may not fully recognize the benefits of 5G.


[1] 5G deployment data from https://www.speedtest.net/ookla-5g-map
[2] 5G latency reduction from https://www.md7.com/blog/the-major-benefits-of-5g-breaking-things-down/, https://cradlepoint.com/sites/default/files/5g-infographic-082018.pdf

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As a service provider to the wireless industry, we would like to share our insights, observations, and analysis about what is happening from time to time.