The onset of 5G, the next evolution in cellular technology, will bring significant changes within the existing landscape of wireless technology infrastructure and, for many building owners, preparing for this change remains top of mind.
In 2019 the evolution of 5G will have a tremendous impact on wireless infrastructure from optical fiber-based cabling to the use of in-building small cells, signal boosters and antennas.
“5G is two small letters but a monstrous topic. We have been leaders in lobbying with the FCC to change rules to better improve cellular connectivity,” said Jeff Gudewicz, chief product officer at Wilson Electronics, a leading provider of cellular boosting technology.
Demand for signal boosters to increase with the onset of 5G
Despite the unknowns surrounding which frequencies the FCC will approve, one thing remains certain: the demand for signal boosters and antennas will continue to increase in 2019.
“The raw physics is that as 5G frequencies go higher and higher their ability to penetrate insulated construction materials diminishes and the need for something to enhance those signals is going to be greater,” said Gudewicz.
While vendors are still early on in developing hardware, the changes in existing wireless infrastructure will take two paths.
Mid-band frequencies in the 3.5 GHz to 4.3 GHz range will require adding new hardware components to existing boosters but will not be a massive departure from the infrastructure which exists in many buildings today; millimeter wave, however, will require a completely new system from antennas to cabling and amplifiers.
As carriers start to deploy 5G, 4G LTE will continue to remain as the primary cellular wireless network for some time, serving as a reliable back up as the transition to 5G occurs.
5G cellular will increase IoT predictive maintenance capabilities
The adoption of 5G will have a tremendous impact on the connectivity of devices in factories and other automated environments.
“The explosion of everything being connected will impact automated factories from valves to sophisticated cloud-based analytics in order to keep service connected in real-time,” said Gudewicz.
5G’s speed will bring virtual reality and augmented reality to life and enhance existing maintenance services by increasing the use of augmented reality manufacturing tools for applications such as servicing of aircraft and modeling of automotive cars.
In the smart building sector, 5G, which can increase the battery life of IoT devices to 10-plus years, will make it more advantageous to embed IoT devices in roadways and highways and help to connect smart buildings and smart cities to improve public safety and services.
Lowering CAPEX costs through strategic infrastructure deployment
The onset of 5G will require building owners to make prudent decisions about their CAPEX costs as the cost burden continues to shift from carriers to building owners and landlords.
In many cases improving cellular connectivity inside a building may not require an overhaul of the entire building’s network infrastructure.
Signal boosters are specially designed to light up areas within a building which suffer from poor cellular coverage such as IT closets in basements and other locations with poor coverage.
“Small cell signal boosters can light up defined areas in a very strategic way and are a scalable option that can be deployed in weeks due to no requirements for regulatory approval,” Gudewicz said.