High Band Spectrum & 5G: What's Next & What to Expect

5G is about more than just faster mobile broadband, notes Tom Sawanobori, SVP and chief technology officer at the CTIA.

Tom Sawanobori, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, CTIA

September 5, 2016

2 Min Read
High Band Spectrum & 5G: What's Next & What to Expect

To the average consumer, 5G is something that has simply been described as "faster speeds." While that's true, 5G will also provide real-time services and fuel the Internet of Things, which will transform entire industries from agriculture and transportation to education and healthcare in order to benefit consumers.

5G will completely change the way we work, live and play. Here are a few examples:

  • Download a full HD video in a matter of seconds at the airport before boarding a flight

  • Video conference with the doctor, who can diagnose an illness remotely

  • Test drive a car, tour a house or try on clothing with virtual reality technology from anywhere

If you're looking forward to this 5G Internet of Things future, so is the wireless industry. In fact, many wireless companies are already conducting trials across the US. Thanks to the FCC's recent vote to make high band, or millimeter wave, spectrum available, the US wireless industry is taking an important step forward in the race to 5G and to support Americans' mobile-first lives. (See Ready, Set, Go! FCC Votes for First 5G Spectrum.)

While the consumer benefits are clear from high band spectrum, there are some unique infrastructure requirements. Since high band spectrum travels shorter distances, small cells are needed to support the faster speeds, more capacity and increased coverage. Today, small cells are becoming the size of pizza boxes and can more easily be deployed at bus stops and lampposts, which is why wireless companies need a streamlined and expedited process. We also need more fiber availability for backhaul; it is critical to enabling the deployment of 5G.

High band spectrum is certainly important to our 5G future, but we can't ignore the needs for low and mid band spectrum too. Each band offers unique characteristics -- such as being able to penetrate walls and handle capacity that are key to delivering the best possible customer experience.

Given the tremendous opportunities that 5G will provide consumers and businesses, it's important to stay up to date on both the technology and policy shaping our 5G future. I will be exploring the key issues related to 5G with technology executives of our nation's leading operators at CTIA Super Mobility. I hope you'll join me in Las Vegas at the CTO round table panel discussion on Wednesday, September 7 at 10:45 a.m. PT.

— Tom Sawanobori, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, CTIA

About the Author(s)

Tom Sawanobori

Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, CTIA

CTIA's Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Thomas (Tom) Sawanobori is responsible for technology and technical matters concerning spectrum, network evolution, cybersecurity and device certification to benefit the association's members and to serve as a technical resource to policymakers. Before joining CTIA, Tom spent 22 years at Verizon, responsible for technology planning, network engineering and operational experience, including lead planner for Verizon Wireless' 4G LTE network.

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