You might have started to read more about 5G coming to different cities in 2018. Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint have all set aggressive deadlines for rollouts this year, with Verizon setting a goal for the end of 2018 (1).
Back in December, we examined the main difference in speed between current 4G LTE capability and the massive speed increase 5G will provide. While it's clear 5G will be nearly 200 times faster than current 4G speeds, these faster speeds can only be accomplished with one key component. That very important component involves fiber optic network expansion.
5G Network Deployment Driving Fiber Installations
According to an article by Electrical Contractor, fiber installations are currently growing so fast that major companies are getting worried about the ability of the industry to keep up with the needs for fiber and cable (2).
Cellular 5G network deployment is at the heart of a majority of these fiber installations currently taking place nationwide. The goal is to deploy 5G in urban areas, or commonly referred to in the industry as "small cells." The coverage will include one-tenth the size of normal cell sites. This translates to more than 10 times as many cell sites and 10 times as much fiber.
These installations won't just be taking place outdoors either. Small cells will also be deployed to replace antenna systems and even merge existing Wi-Fi access points. You may have already started to notice some of these installations outdoors on streetlights, traffic signals and utility poles. This is being allowed as more service providers install fiber or city-owned fiber networks.
Verizon Preparing To "Double Down" on Fiber Broadband
Kyle Malady, SVP and Chief Network Officer of Wireline for Verizon, announced at Fiber Connect conference in June that the company was already ready to "double down on fiber again." (3) Malady later described fiber as "the nervous system of the networks of the future" and that the carrier is currently purchasing enough fiber to string to "Mars and back."
It was made clear that Verizon's Fios service was not the main catalyst for embracing fiber. 5G network deployment and preparation is the key as Verizon will need to reportedly feed small cells located at estimated 1,000-foot intervals in urban applications. The main requirement for these small cells is gigabit capable backhaul, meaning Verizon will rely heavily on a deep fiber network.
Malady added, "[5G] leads to a whole new architecture and will require massive bandwidth, deep fiber and flex access at the edge."
The Importance of Splicing Crews
As companies like Verizon begin investing in fiber for the future, having capable splicing crews available to work on network deployment is becoming increasingly more important as the rest of 2018 progresses.
Our team is currently in the field working on a 5G network deployment project involving ribbon splicing (ribbon cables are higher fiber counts and allow for faster splicing with mass fusion splicers).
Let us know how we can help you with your 5G deployment projects. We have splicing crews ready and available nationwide!
(1) Verizon CEO: 5G coming end of 2018; expect competition on capability, not price
(2) ECMag: A Flurry of Activity: The State of Fiber Installation as 2018 Begins
(3) Telecompetitor: Verizon: We're Doubling Down on Fiber Broadband, Just Don't Call it Fios