Governor’s Island, a 172 acre former military base in New York Harbor that is now primarily a recreational destination for New York City residents and tourists, is primed for 5G. Michael Samuelian, president and CEO of Governor’s Island, talked with TechRepublic about how 5G will be deployed throughout the island and the lessons they’ve learned from the deployment thus far, including the importance of line of sight to the antennas. Since the Governor’s Island trust owns the land, building, and infrastructure on the island, developers have the unique advantage of being able to deploy 5G radios virtually anywhere to achieve the widespread coverage they desired – making the project and excellent “from the ground up” testing project that will surely impact future deployments in NYC.
XDA-Developers has obtained specs and photos of the upcoming Motorola Moto Z3 Play, the latest of which showcase a very interesting “Moto Mod” add-on that would make the Z3 Play one of the first 5G-capable phones on the market. The photos show an attachment that connects to the back of the phone, complete with an antenna “lip” along the top for 5G connectivity. While it would obviously add bulk to the phone, it’s a very unique idea that has the potential to allow Z3 Play users to add 5G capabilities as needed and streamline when it’s not needed.
At a IEE conference this week, Sprint CTO John Saw discussed the technology behind the carrier’s 5G network, how Sprint’s deployment differs from other carriers, and their in-progress rollouts. Saw explained that Sprint’s large holding of spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band gives them the unique ability to simultaneously enable LTE and 5G in the same footprint, something other carriers will have a much harder time doing on the lower frequencies. “With 5G, for the first time, we’re pretty much going to use up every megahertz we have in the 2.5 band,” he said. “We’re going to simultaneously enable LTE and 5G on the 2.5 band. What that means is we’re able to have the same footprint, in terms of coverage, within 5G and 4G. It’s not easy to do if you are building a 5G network on millimeter wave and your LTE network is running on cellular channels.”
Massive MIMO is the technology behind the strategy, and Sprint is currently upgrading thousands of cell sites with Massive MIMO to support LTE and 5G at the same time. Sprint is in the process of launching 5G to 9 initial markets and has promoted the fact that their test markets will receive wide coverage, not just small test zones of 5G.
Usable, accessible 5G service is still a far-off hypothetical for most people – Verizon and AT&T are implementing test networks in a few markets in 2018, but it is generally accepted that it will be many years before 5G is really a viable alternative to other networks. In Houston, however, experts and residents alike are optimistic that 5G will be fully deployed and available by 2020.
Jay Brown, chief executive of Crown Castle, a Houston-based cellular tower company, said his company is in the process of prepping for 5G service in Houston and around the country. “In the early days, there were five to eight cell towers in the whole city,” Brown said. “Now there are 2,000 towers in Houston, and 5,000 to 6,000 in the entire area.” Brown also noted that Houston is one of the easier cities to get right-of-way access for cables and antennas, making the path towards 5G smoother than it will be elsewhere.
Verizon and AT&T have been promoting their progress towards building 5G networks, but to make mobile 5G a reality, small cell sites are going to be needed to provide coverage in busy areas and bridge the gaps between the network towers. Qualcomm has now announced their 5G New Radio platform, FSM100xx, which will deliver gigabit data speeds to small cells.
The new hardware from Qualcomm is just another piece of the larger puzzle that will make up true, usable 5G service. Despite all the hype from carriers, their initial rollouts alone will not equate to 5G being immediately available to all users in the area. Commitments like this from Qualcomm and others will help make 5G accessible!
On CNBC this week, Verizon exec Lowell McAdam spoke about the progress Verizon has made with their 5G plans and excited millions of SoCal residents when he stated that Los Angeles will join Sacramento as a 5G test market this year. “We bought 36 million miles of fiber so we can have big pipes feeding the cells. We will have hundreds of megahertz of bandwidth to deliver the whole suite of services of 5G,” McAdam said.
McAdam indicated that four markets are due to be part of the 5G rollout in 2018, but only Sacramento and now Los Angeles have been named so far. His confidence in Verizon’s progress towards the promised 2018 launches was evident, as he stated, “I think we’re a lot closer than people think.”
The potential benefits of 5G have been discussed by leaders in industries ranging from public safety to education, but the transportation industry has been perhaps the most vocal. Telefonica has built a futuristic “smart city” utilizing 5G networks to power autonomous minibuses that are secure, reliable, and safe, showing off the real-world benefits 5G can have for autonomous vehicles. As Mercedes Fernández, head of innovation at Telefonica España, explained, “5G provides critical latency and extremely high reliability, playing a key role in security, information criticality and decision making times.”
T-Mobile and Sprint have agreed to merge, but they still need approval from regulatory agencies before they can move forward. With all of the current focus on 5G – in particular the race against countries like China to be the first in 5G – T-Mobile and Sprint leaders are emphasizing the benefit that their merger could have on 5G development in an effort to encourage approval. “It’s the early innovation cycle of 5G,” T-Mobile chief executive John Legere said after the deal was announced. “We are behind China. This is not something we can allow.”
At the Brooklyn 5G Summit in New York today, FCC deputy chief of technology Michael Ha said that he expects high-band frequency bands to be available for auction in 2019. This is critical for 5G operators as this previously-unavailable spectrum is considered vital for the high speeds 5G will provide.
Ha confirmed that the 28GHz and 24GHz auctions are expected first, with 39GHz also on the list for 2019.
Verizon announced today in their first-quarter earnings call that it has started deploying commercial nodes in three markets in the US in support of their planned launch of their fixed 5G network later this year. “We are quickly approaching the launch date of our residential broadband service,” said Verizon CFO Matt Ellis. Sacramento is the only market Verizon has named so far; the other two markets won’t be announced until closer to the launch.
As for their mobile 5G network, rollout is further out and according to Ellis will be “very much heavily focused on urban areas.”