5G IS GREAT BUT CAN IT REPLACE FIBER?
With the announcement of 5G wireless home routers, a lot of customers want to jump at the idea of cutting the cord from their monthly internet subscriptions and go completely wireless. While this may sound good in theory, there are several factors that can make the transition a success or more trouble than it’s worth.
Is 5G Available In Your Area? First, you must see if there’s even 5G coverage in your area. If so, there are several options for you to be able to obtain some remarkable speeds. If you live in a single-family home without a lot of obstructions, you may not experience many issues with a 5G home router or hotspot and may even pull faster speeds than some internet providers currently offer in your area.
Where it can become an issue, is if you live in an apartment complex or a high-rise condo. 5G’s millimeters waves notoriously have difficulty passing through structures as opposed to previous wireless technology. This is especially true when it comes to reinforced concrete. The biggest problem is it’s mostly only available in metropolitan areas where a good portion of the housing is apartments and condos. These areas tend to already have fiber service available, so most people simply choose to have a more stable hardline fiber connection without having to worry about spotty coverages due to all of the obstructions that come along with living in an multi-dwelling unit building.
5G Cannot Exits Without Fiber This premise of 5G replacing fiber is also flawed because 5G cannot exists without a robust fiber network. Past wireless technologies could take advantage of copper and microwave internet connections for their services. This is not the case with 5G. To obtain the record setting speeds that have been advertise, service providers are relying on a fiber connection to power their towers. Where it makes sense is for rural area customers looking at 5G as a fiber replacement. Think of 5G like the U.S. Postal Service. There are several rural addresses that private companies simply do not deliver to. Even if you ship something with FedEx or UPS the item is ultimately delivered by USPS. It doesn’t make sense in a FedEx’s business model to incorporate remote addresses into their service areas. The same can be said with a fiber network. That’s where 5G powered towers will come in. An address might be too far away from a fiber node to get hardline services. That customer will then be able to get a 5G router in the future.
Are You Outside of a Fiber Network? Another area where this can be an option is for customers that are outside of a fiber network due to new residential developments. When a fiber provider designs their network, they do so using existing GIS and property tax information and they allocate fiber services accordingly. Let’s say someone has an older home on a several acre lot and they decide to subdivide their land and develop a small little neighborhood. The service provider only allocated 2 pairs of fiber for an address that now has 10 parcels and homes. The infrastructure is complete and installed, and these new homes will simply be out of the loop until the network is updated or a new service provider comes along to lay fiber at the right-of-way with the new addresses being taken into consideration. For homes in situations such as these, a 5G router could prove to be their only solution for faster internet speeds in the short term.
For the average customer looking for home internet service, fiber is not only going to be more stable, but just make more sense. You don’t have to worry about throttling if you’re using too much data connected to a tower the way you would with a typical fiber service. You don’t have to worry about cloud coverage or building penetrations nearly as much either. 5G is going to open up a world of possibilities for the average consumer, but when it comes to a reliable internet connection for your home or business, fiber is still going to be your best option.
About Austin Bailey
Austin Bailey is a project manager for Foresite Group’s Wireless Service Practice Area. He went to the University of North Georgia, and has over 9 years of industry experience. Austin’s expertise is in iDAS (indoor distributed antenna system), cell site co-locations, and NSB (New Site Builds).