Fixed wireless in the form of WiFi hotspots that leverage existing wired networks and LTE-based mobile broadband has been around for a while. But it is with the rollout of 5G, starting in 2018, that the cable industry is in the strongest position to dominate the wireless space.
5G, which is capable of increased speeds and lower latencies compared to 4G and LTE, uses small cell technology which relies on a greater density of wired network connectivity for backhaul. The cable industry has invested heavily in its wired network, which puts it in a strong position as 5G fixed wireless networks rollout across the US.
The involvement of cable companies in wireless networks is not a recent innovation. Cable providers, including Comcast and Charter, have long been interested in using their extensive wired networks as backhaul for WiFi hotspots. They have also formed partnerships with Verizon to provide wireless services over its network. Industry insiders have long mooted the possibility that one of the big cable providers would buy or merge with an existing wireless operator like Sprint or T-Mobile to secure a lead in the wireless space.
Fixed wireless using WiFi or LTE has demonstrated the viability of delivering broadband over wireless. But the advent of 5G is a game changer in the wireless space, particularly where fixed wireless is concerned. Because it uses much smaller cells than 4G, 5G requires a greater density of cells and those cells require a denser wired network to connect them to the wired backhaul.
Unlike 4G, it won’t be enough to throw up a few cell towers on the tops of buildings.
The cable industry has by far the densest wired networks in the largest range of locations, lowering future CAPEX for building out the necessary infrastructure and putting them in the best position to exploit the enhanced capabilities of 5G.
It has been argued that using 5G as the foundation for fixed wireless networks that provide home broadband over the air isn’t that much different to the business broadband providers are in today. Most consumers and many businesses already connect to their broadband network over WiFi. The major difference when using 5G for fixed wireless is that the signal that supports home WiFi will arrive via 5G rather than through a wire to residences and businesses.
In the coming years, there will be strong demand for engineers with 5G expertise and fixed wireless networking experience. For a business to succeed in this space, it must cultivate a solid foundation through strategic hiring and technical training.
With over three decades of experience in executive recruitment and technical training for the cable and broadband industry, TD Madison has a vast database of relevant executives and engineers. Our time-tested recruitment and assessment strategies make us the perfect partner for any business seeking to build on 5G.