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Something Speedy This Way Comes: 5G Wireless Is On the Way


With the Federal Communications Commission to release its plans to move toward 5G, we take a look at the road ahead.

Today the Federal Communication Commission is set to release it s Spectrum Frontiers order that will recommend ways to open a significant portion of the wireless spectrum to allow for the country’s transition into fifth generation wireless. With a growing demand for faster and more powerful wireless internet capabilities in the age of video streaming, 4G is quickly becoming outdated. Now while carriers such as Verizon are set to roll out experimental 5G technology by next year, don’t go buying a new phone quite yet. The 5G revolution is likely to take years, as it’s not a single technology or wireless frequency.

5G is set to include parts of the ultra high frequency spectrum that were thought to have been unsuitable for mobile data connections. Today, roughly 544 MHz of spectrum is deployed for mobile use compared to the 60 THz of potential bandwidth for a single fiber-optic thread– that’s about 100,000 times more than all available mobile spectrum. The current licensed spectrum falls between 400MHz and 2.5 GHz. The new spectrum is found at much higher frequencies-  28,37, 39 GHz and above! These network capabilities will necessary to keep up with growing wireless demand, but it will also require the construction of new networks as well. While our current networks are typically miles apart, the new networks will be composed of a number of smaller cells just hundreds of feet apart.


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“Instead of thousands of cell towers, there will be millions of points of presence,” says Richard Adler of the Institute for the Future. “Multiple sites inside a building, perhaps multiple sites within a single room.”

5G is believed by many to be integral to US technology innovation over the next twenty five years and this FCC order seems to be a step in the right direction. As usual though, it seems some firms are looking for preferential treatment, hoping to direct the proceeding away from simple, neutral rules and toward complicated bureaucracy. These special favors are an attempt to prohibit competitors from acquiring new spectrum. Looking back ten years ago, we can see how the establishment of smart policies regarding 3G and 4G networks led to the conditions for success for companies such as Facebook.

The road towards 5G has just begun and we can’t wait to see where it’ll lead.

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