5G Technology’s Impact On Your Cell Site

August 30, 2017 3:44 pm Published by Comments Off on 5G Technology’s Impact On Your Cell Site

About every five years, a new generation of equipment, standards and infrastructure is introduced to the wireless industry. 4G is the current platform that delivers “fast” throughput on mobile handsets such as Apple iPhones or Samsung’s Galaxy products. However, the reality is that money-paying cell phone users experience substantially slower speeds than the technology promises in the lab with a single user downloading massive files.

The industry has a fix for that now. 5G. The fifth generation of wireless protocols means that phones will work at broadband speeds (think WiFi). But as off the later half of 2017, it is still in the experimental stages where companies like Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T are still selecting cities to test the new technology’s interoperability with their existing infrastructure. Since the new technology requires the use of new frequency bands, today’s phones do not support such advances yet. So the migration to 5G will be dependent on carriers augmenting their existing infrastructures with 5G gear, along with wireless subscribers like you and I buying new 2018 versions of yet-to-be-built iPhones and Samsung Galaxies.

One notable difference with 5G technology is that it is using much higher frequencies than its predecessor 1G, 2G, 3G UMTS, and 4G LTE technologies. High frequencies have greater loss in open space compared to lower frequencies. This is laws of physics. Thus, Carriers cannot just put 5G on existing cell towers and rooftops and expect a mobile phone to have full 5G coverage and seamless signal handoffs when they drive from one location (cell site) to another location. The new technology is predominantly focused in on inbuilding situations where much smaller equipment are placed indoors to offload traffic that normally would have consumed too much capacity from cell towers and rooftop sites nearby. This means there will be less dependencies of cell tower and rooftop sites in the core metro areas (not so in rural areas where cell towers provide the majority of the signal sources for mobile phone users).

What does this mean to you as a landlord? If you live in the metro areas where 5G is targeted to be initially deployed, the carriers’ aim to direct cellular traffic away from your cell site, and into cheaper 5G sites in areas of high concentration of buildings and population. Less dependency on your tower can translate to less revenue for that tower, and less inclined to offer more money for your cell site lease. To be sure, you site is not going away today due to the advent of 5G, but it will be impacted by it. Success or failure of 5G deployment will have an impact on your lease revenue if it is up for renewal soon.

Contact us at CellWaves and we can help sort all this out for you.

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This post was written by Larry Heuchert