The Pros and Cons of 5G InfrastructureBy Jenn Fulmer Print
5G infrastructure offers a lot of advantages for urban and rural areas and enterprises too, but it also has its drawbacks.
Everyone seems to be talking about 5G these days, and while it’s already in some cities, a large amount of infrastructure will need to be put in place before it can become more widely available. Generally, 5G does offer a lot of benefits. However, some businesses may find that the cons outweigh the pros. To make it easier to decide if 5G is right for you, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of 5G infrastructure.
What infrastructure is required for a 5G network?
One of the main necessities for a 5G network is large amounts of fiber optic cables. Providers will also need to install a large number of towers and cable boxes in the areas where they’re adding 5G coverage.
Small cell base stations improve the continuity of the connection and complement the larger structures meant to provide a wider level of coverage. These stations will also need small cell antennas to transmit and receive the millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies that many 5G providers use. Some areas will also use multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) antennas, allowing more people to connect to the 5G network simultaneously.
Companies will also need to purchase their own equipment to incorporate 5G into their corporate networks, such as access points and private 5G network infrastructure. Additionally, many current devices aren’t equipped to run on 5G, so enterprises will have to invest in new devices that are. This will include not only cellphones and laptops but also internet of things (IoT) devices.
Pros of 5G infrastructure
Many businesses are looking forward to 5G availability, due to the numerous benefits it can offer.
Larger coverage areas
5G offers larger coverage areas, especially in rural locations thanks to the use of fiber optic cables and the combination of macro and small cells. This allows businesses to go wireless that previously had to rely on wired or weak connections. While it may not replace consumer networks in rural areas, 5G can provide businesses with a faster alternative to broadband, if they’re willing to make the investment.
Because 5G uses shorter frequencies than 4G, it can offer higher bandwidth for both businesses and consumers. Depending on the type of 5G installed (mmWave, low-band, or mid-band), this may mean higher internet speeds, theoretically much faster than cable. The main draw of higher bandwidth, however, is that more people can be connected to the network with lower latency. This means everyone should have the same internet speeds whether there are ten people in the office or one hundred.
Less battery drain for IoT devices
IoT devices are constantly transferring data, which strains their battery life. 5G can reduce network energy usage by as much as 90 percent, which means IoT devices won’t drain their batteries as quickly. For low-power IoT devices, this could mean that batteries last as long as ten years.
Cons of 5G infrastructure
Unfortunately, not everything with 5G is positive, or there wouldn’t even be a conversation about adopting it. These are some of the drawbacks of 5G.
Speed isn’t always what you expect
While mmWave 5G offers extremely fast speeds, low-band 5G offers similar speeds to 4G and mid-band 5G isn’t publicly available yet. For now, mmWave 5G has difficulty moving through walls and works best in open environments. This may not work for your business. To get the speeds you want for your business, you may have to wait for mid-band to become available or for low-band to improve.
Requires major infrastructure investments
Building out a private 5G network isn’t cheap, but it’s essential if you want your business to get the most out of 5G. Your business will then need to integrate this private network with your IT systems and IoT devices to ensure efficiency and usability. You might also need an IoT exposure interface, which improves the accessibility of 5G for IoT devices and simplifies the integration. As it stands currently, this infrastructure would require a multi-million dollar investment.
Some local governments are fighting it
Some local governments are fighting the installation of 5G due to the hardware requirements. A few towns have railed against it, saying the boxes and towers disrupt their area’s natural beauty. Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has bypassed many of these local governments and approved providers to start installing the necessary infrastructure. Because this takes away some of the local government’s power, many have decided to take legal action.
Is 5G right for your business?
To determine if 5G is right for your business, examine your current connectivity and decide what improvements would be most beneficial for your company. Then, compare the different types of 5G and see if any of them could help you make those improvements.
5G won’t be the right call for every business. Some won’t want to make the multi-million dollar investment to set up the necessary infrastructure, while others are perfectly happy with their current internet speeds. Businesses that will benefit most from 5G are those who need to increase their bandwidth or the battery life of their IoT devices. Offices in rural areas without reliable connectivity may also decide to make the switch. Ultimately, your needs will determine whether 5G is right for you.
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