If you haven’t seen any recent commercials, you may have missed the news: 5G is here! Or is it? That answer may have to do with where exactly here is as well as what type of 5G you’re talking about. Let’s dive deeper into 5G to learn what it is, its impact, growth, and most importantly, how telecom construction factoring can help companies jump in on this lucrative industry.
What is 5G?
5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology. Here’s a breakdown of the previous generations and their defining characteristics.
So, 5G is just a faster version of 4G?
In the simplest terms, yes. It’s estimated that 5G networks will be between 10 and 100 times faster than current 4G LTE coverage. Speed doesn’t just make existing tech run faster; it allows the creation of new tech as well. When it was introduced, 4G was simply a faster version of 3G, but its implications were huge.
Think about this- when 4G rolled out in 2009, the 5 largest companies in the US were:
- Proctor & Gamble
Ten years later, the top 5 were:
The faster internet capabilities enabled by 4G created entire industries that were previously unimagined. In 2009, it was hard to picture a world with mobile HD streaming and online shopping that could deliver almost anything to your door within hours. Now, it’s hard to remember a world without those things. It is expected that 5G will have the same impact, creating the booming businesses of tomorrow.
The “Internet of Things”
The term “internet of things”, or IoT, refers to the many connected devices that communicate with each other wirelessly. Smart home devices like thermostats are part of today’s IoT, as are smartphones and watches.
The list of connected devices is growing. Simple, small sensors are now able to share information with each other. In trucking, an industry that Factor Finders knows well, IoT is used to track truck locations and monitor loads. This information can help divert fleets around storms or monitor the temperature of produce being hauled to its destination.
As more devices are added to the IoT, current wireless tech is reaching its limitations. 4G networks are capable of supporting around 60,000 devices per square kilometer. 5G is estimated to support up to 1 million devices in the same area. This massive amount of data will help create industries most of us can’t imagine today but will struggle to live without in the future.
Where 5G stands today
Today’s 5G, for the most part, isn’t quite at the “game changer” level yet. While cell companies have been touting their extensive 5G coverage, the real-world results for most haven’t been very impressive. This is due to differing 5G services. Like its predecessors, 5G uses radio frequencies to transmit data. However, the range of frequencies that can now be used is much greater.
Low band 5G coverage shares some transmission components with 4G LTE coverage. This is the type of 5G service most readily available throughout the country. Connection speed and capacity are better than the previous generation, but slow by 5G standards. Despite its slower speed, low band 5G is able to cover a larger area. One low band tower can serve hundreds of square miles.
Mid band 5G ups the speed while serving a smaller area. Depending on the signal strength, mid band 5g is capable of reaching speeds up to 700Mbps, which is about 20 times faster than 4G LTE. The coverage area for mid band is a few miles from the service tower.
High band 5G, also known as millimeter wave (mmWave), is the fastest of the bunch. Speeds for mmWave can reach 1-3Gbps, or 30-100 times faster than 4G LTE! Unfortunately, the coverage area for high band 5G is greatly reduced. A single mmWave antenna has a reach of around one mile in ideal conditions. Obstructions like buildings or even windows can limit this reach, requiring more antennas to be installed.
It won’t be until high band 5G becomes more readily available that we’ll start seeing the way it is changing the world.
5G’s anticipated growth
It is estimated that 5G will add $1.5 trillion to the US GDP by 2030, creating 4.5 million new telecommunications jobs. Unlike many tech booms, the benefits won’t be isolated geographically. 5G infrastructure is vital nationwide. Construction will be ongoing in cities large and small, coastal and inland.
Speaking of construction, the telecom construction industry will be on the receiving end of many of the 5G benefits. According to CTIA, $127 billion of the $1.5 trillion GDP growth will be in the construction sector. In addition, there are an expected to be nearly half a million newly created construction jobs directly related to 5G in the next 10 years.
What telecom construction jobs does 5G create?
While the low frequency version of 5G is available nationwide, the more capable high frequency version has sporadic coverage. This is because high band 5G has a much more limited coverage area.
Unlike 4G coverage, which is powered by large antennas that cover a great distance, high band 5G requires a great number of small antennas. These are referred to as small cells.
To get full coverage in ideal surroundings, it takes 20-25 small cells to provide service for one square mile. For areas with more obstacles (trees, buildings, etc.) as many as 60 small cells per square mile could be necessary. As of 2020, there were just under 2,000 small cells installed throughout the US. By 2027, that number is expected to grow to 1.56 million.
There will be a tremendous opportunity across the US for construction companies to help install the small cells needed to power the 5G revolution. Soon, it will be commonplace to see these antennas inconspicuously placed on buildings and light poles. There is money to be made by getting in early and offering small cell installation as a telecom construction service.
Not only will these small cells need to be installed, but they will also need to be wired to the network. Existing copper lines, which had been adequate for the internet needs until now, lack the capability to handle 5G.
Fiber optic cable is the most efficient method of transferring information at 5G speed. It is superior to copper line in both capacity and effective reach. Unfortunately, our existing infrastructure is powered almost exclusively by copper. By 2025, an expected $250 billion will be invested in expanding our fiber network.
How can Factor Finders help your telecom construction company?
If predictions are accurate, there’s plenty of money to be made in the telecom construction industry. Over a million small cells will need to be installed and millions of miles of fiber cable needs to be laid. This demand creates a fantastic opportunity for telecom construction companies to profit by laying the groundwork for the IoT.
While telecom companies will expect the construction crews to work at a 5G-like pace, they are often very slow at paying their invoices. That’s where we can help. Factor Finders helps cable and telecom companies obtain fast financing through invoice factoring. Factoring your outstanding invoices enables cable and telecommunications companies to make payroll, hire new employees, purchase new supplies, microtrench for fiber and expand business.