Jake MacLeod, Gray Beards Consulting, said that 5Gs new moniker, Beyond 2020, may seem like a long way away but it isn’t and the wireless industry needs to be ready. MacLeod made that comment during the session, Strengthening Your Business in the Wireless Industry, Today and Tomorrow, at the AGL Conference in Nashville.
A number of companies have 5G in their crosshairs, according to MacLeod. “I spoke with one company that is going to spend $500 million to be the global leader in 5G,” he said. “They will be in all the planning meetings of the standards development group. There will be a huge, huge push for 5G in the next few years.”
How does this affect the tower industry? The carriers are beginning to incorporate it into their current network planning to be ready for 5G, which translates into small cell deployments, according to MacLeod.
“5G is going to require a very, very stable air link between the antenna point and the handset,” he said. “That lends itself readily to small cells. You have to get that radiator closer to the handset in order to stabilize the air link.”
The Telecommunications Industry Association is just now forming 5G standards groups, which represent an opportunity for the United States to take a leadership position. “We have been in the backseat for several years now,” MacLeod said.
The industry will experience obstacles providing power and backhaul for each access point as they deploy smaller cells at street level in street furniture, bus stops, stoplights and streetlights, he said. Additionally, from a safety standpoint, the antenna must not exceed the amount of radiation that is safe for public exposure.
“You can’t get fiber to every stoplight and you won’t be able to power everything,” McLeod said. “It is a real conundrum.”