MWC Week in Review- The 5G Aftermath

By Jaime Fink

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Barcelona certainly was abuzz with 5G marketing this year, with soaring banners making claims of “the leader in 5G technology” all around. But many attendees walked away shrugging their shoulders still contemplating, “what is 5G?”

After meeting with scores of press, analysts, service providers and vendors I can’t say that I came home with a clear answer. But I did gain a clear consensus perspective on what real consumer speed and connectivity demands are, and what most industry experts believe are the most viable and practical paths forward to a 5G future.

Leading into Barcelona, the ITU finally did us all a favor by publishing their draft 5G mobile specs, heralding reliable 100 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload speeds at low latency. More confusion after talk of gigabit speeds in the early over-inflated marketing.

With plenty of powder still in the guns of various 4G interim flavors coming to market including LTE-U/LAA, it’s no surprise the move to mobile 5G is still four to five years away. Use cases for IOT applications seem of true interest as cities and municipalities push their future connected city plans forward, but I’d even ask, do we need to wait for 5G for that?

Where there was clear agreement about consumer demand, is the possibility to quickly move forward with 5G technology to address major broadband connectivity gaps with Fixed Wireless technology. This new alternative to costly fiber-to-the home and under-connected rural areas, can quickly be brought to market with new 5G Fixed technologies already available.

5G Fixed deployments can move considerably faster, this year in fact, because it’s specifically NOT a mobile approach which would require complicated interoperability with handsets or widely agreed or adopted standards. It’s a new use case, where base stations and client devices on homes can quickly be deployed in remote rural and high-density city environments.

As we enter another major generational shift in the early market, all the players have different proprietary radio approaches - differentiating on speed, spectrum choice, and most importantly, speed to market. Many including Google Fiber, AT&T and Verizon are focusing on the broad mmWave spectrum for city areas, while at Mimosa we’re touting sub-6 GHz approaches to tackle the tree lined suburban neighborhoods.

In our case, Mimosa is already out deploying 200 Mbps+ “fiber-fast” speeds into new high density residential markets - with advanced new Spectrum Reuse Synchronization techniques to get the most scalability possible out of scarce lower spectrum. While there certainly will be a lot of debate over the approaches, we’re getting an immediate preview of how disruptive this technology can be – 2017 should make for an exciting year with 5G Fixed!