For the last several years, U.S. service providers in both the cable and wireless industries have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of 5G connectivity — the next step in the evolution beyond 4G LTE.
As of right now, there is still quite a bit of ground to cover before we can expect widespread 5G deployment here in the U.S. In fact, industry analysts predict that this will not happen until around 2020 or so.
The next few years are going to move very quickly, though, and it’s possible we could see a rush on the market as companies look to capitalize on the opportunity as early adopters. Verizon, for instance, has been openly testing 5G networks and we anticipate that other carriers will follow suit.
Wireless providers won’t be the only ones competing for a slice of the 5G pie, though. There will be stiff competition from cable companies. In fact, cable companies could have a significant edge in the race for 5G dominance, telecommunications industry analyst Craig Moffett pointed out at the recent WiFi Now conference in Tysons Corner, VA. Moffett even criticized cable providers for not being aggressive enough in the 600 MHz spectrum auction.
According to Moffett, cable providers could ultimately prevail over wireless carriers because they have pre-existing wireline infrastructure. As Telecompetitor pointed out, 5G networks will need dense wireline networks in order to support smaller wireless sectors. Cable MSOs already have the wireline backhaul capacity to support small cells, which will be key in 5G deployments.
Wireless carriers, though, will need to obtain wireline capacity for 5G connectivity. They will either have to lease this infrastructure from other providers, or build their own. This will require heavy OPEX or CAPEX.
Whether or not your cable company plans on pursuing 5G connectivity, it’s definitely something to keep on your radar over the next year.