The 5G revolution is approaching. Network speeds over 100 times faster than todays are promising to change the world as we know it. The connectivity of 4G LTE allowed the information age as we know it to develop. This next jump is predicted to advance it to a whole new level. Yet, while our phones may display a little “5G” icon in the corner, not much else seems different. Is 5G nothing more than hype? How can wireless contractors help bring high speed 5G, and how can factoring help get those contractors paid faster?
Not all 5G is the same
The 5G that most of us experience daily really isn’t much different in terms of performance than 4G. This is because the majority of current 5G service is low band, also known as low frequency. In general, there are three categories of 5G service: low, mid and high frequency. As the frequency of the signal increases, so does the speed. However, these high frequency bands have a smaller coverage area.
The majority of 5G coverage today falls under the low frequency or low band category. The speed and capacity of low band coverage are very similar to the previous generation of wireless. Low band coverage often originates from the same cell towers, called macro cells, that have already been in use. These towers can serve an area of several hundred square miles.
Mid band 5G can reach speeds about 20 times faster than 4G LTE. Antennas for mid band service can be smaller than the macro cells and are capable of supporting a radius of a few miles.
High band is what most people think of when discussing 5G. Data speeds can reach 100 times faster than 4G coverage. These speeds come at the expense of coverage area. The antennas for high band 5G coverage, known as small cells, have a maximum reach of around one mile in ideal conditions. Any obstruction, like a tree or building, can greatly reduce the antennas reach. Because of this, it will take a lot of small cells to fully cover an area.
How Many Small Cells Are Needed?
Estimates can vary, but the simple answer is a lot. The FCC estimates that at least 800,000 small cells will need to be installed in the US. The International Data Corporation estimates more than double that amount is necessary. If cell service providers refuse to share small cells, as they are currently refusing to do, both of those numbers can easily triple. No matter what, estimates are well beyond the current 200,000 antennas currently providing 4G LTE service.
Where will these small cells be installed?
Currently, most small cell installations are taking place in densely populated urban areas. Because these areas have many obstructions in the signal path, as many as 6-10 small cells are needed per square mile. Fortunately, small cells are just that; small. The average size is around that of a carry-on suitcase.
This small form makes for less of an eyesore than macro cells. Small cell antennas can be mounted on streetlights, traffic signals, billboards, bus shelters and even water towers. They can be built with attractive exteriors that blend in well with their surroundings. You may have already driven past a few without even noticing.
Small cell installation opportunities
It’s estimated that by 2026, $15.9 billion will be invested in small cells globally. Unlike other tech booms, opportunities won’t be limited to Silicon Valley. As the US races to be first to implement full 5G coverage, demand for small cell installation will be high. And while a good portion of the antennas are going to be installed in urban locations, many will still be needed in rural locations as well.
The opportunities don’t end with the small cells either. Each antenna requires power and a fiber connection to function. While power may be easy to access, particularly with installations on existing utility poles, the fiber backhaul will most likely need to be run from a distance.
Learn how Factor Finders can help your wireless contractor business thrive
While 5G can make most things faster, it probably won’t make your customers pay their invoices any quicker. That’s where we come in. Whether you’ve just finished your first batch of installs or your hundredth, invoice factoring helps wireless contractors get paid for the small cells they’ve installed. Interested in learning more? Give us a call or fill out this form and our experienced team will help get you started today!