Building for 5G: What to Consider During Construction

In government and campus networking, one of the most common new project types revolves around turning up a new building. As we discussed earlier this month, it is important to consider future needs and requirements just as much as the present at the project planning stage. While these considerations are factors for network architecture, the advent of 5G has introduced physical architecture considerations as well. This article explains the challenges of indoor 5G, and how you can work with planners and architects to ensure your network users can experience the full benefits of 5G.

The Challenge

To understand why 5G access indoors poses a challenge, it is important to look at how 5G is expected to work. Multiple bands of the spectrum are available for 5G service, but one of the most popular among major carriers in the US is the “mmWave” spectrum. While this wavelength range offers high speeds over short distances, it is unable to permeate walls, furniture, and other common indoor obstacles effectively. Lower bands of the spectrum can travel through these obstructions more easily, but aren’t able to deliver the speeds necessary for 5G.

What Are the Options?

Hardware manufacturers and service providers are hard at work on solutions to bring 5G indoors. These can include a large-scale deployment of small cells or indoor distributed antenna systems (DAS). While many of these solutions can bring effective 5G connectivity indoors, their deployment can be cumbersome and, to some, aesthetically unappealing, particularly in brownfield scenarios in which their necessity could not have been foreseen. However, planning new construction can take these systems into account, and design accordingly to balance form and function. More “open” interior designs may be more advantageous.

However, there is another alternative now available: 6E Wireless. The FCC recently authorized unlicensed use of the 6GHz spectrum for wireless applications, which may prove to be a viable alternative that suits indoor connectivity needs even better. One recent trial resulted in speeds of 2 Gbps, with 2ms of latency, both of which are comparable to expected 5G service.

If you’d like to learn more about how to prepare your network for next-generation needs, contact us today

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