5G is Not Always the Answer

By Michael Schachter 6 min read

There is little doubt that 5G is the most hyped communications technology we have ever seen. From ultra-reliable low latency to massive broadband through exponential growth in IoT, we have been promised a brave new world of unimaginable services and applications. Driverless cars, remote eHealth, immersive AR/VR, and much, much more will all be at our fingertips. Soon. Maybe.

And yet, while 5G spectrum has been snapped up by service providers at enormous expense, and deployment of even standalone 5G is moving more and more quickly - also at great expense - monetization of 5G is still painfully elusive. Communications Service Providers (CSPs) worldwide are anxiously looking for ways to start generating revenue from 5G.

Managing Monetization

Many equipment vendors, such as Ericsson and Nokia, along with CSPs like Verizon and T-Mobile, believe that Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) will be the first great monetizer for 5G. The ability to deliver fiber-like connectivity to homes and small businesses without the costly overhead of digging up streets seems quite compelling in dense urban settings, and similarly, serving underserved remote users over the air is much more cost-effective than running fiber everywhere. All that is needed is to extend the 5G network to areas of need and to supply end-users with 5G, sim-based CPE/Wi-Fi routers, and you get broadband everywhere.

But what if 5G is not always the best answer? Not every CSP invested in 5G spectrum and ISPs all over the world make a living from bringing broadband to the underserved masses, often without 5G. There are untold numbers of private network owners who view their network as a tool, not a revenue source. They would certainly benefit greatly from a simple-to-implement and really affordable carrier-grade FWA solution that is not necessarily a 3GPP implementation. What is their solution?

V-band’s Value

Compared to 5G networks that may be non-existent, too expensive, or inappropriate for a variety of business reasons, V-band FWA, which operates in the 57-71GHz band, can be deployed relatively quickly and relatively inexpensively. ISPs, system integrators, and private network owners can leverage existing infrastructure such as light poles, rooftops, and street furniture to mount compact and unobtrusive V-Band FWA distribution nodes, simplifying deployment and speeding up time to service.

Point-to-multipoint FWA connectivity is also a great solution for scenarios where data needs to be broadcast or conferenced among multiple users, such as in business or educational settings. Finally, even CSPs can benefit from V-band based point-to-multipoint connectivity to backhaul high-capacity traffic from their small cells or public Wi-Fi access points, in downtown or dense traffic locations.

The V-Band FWA nodes would be connected over point-to-point wireless links to the ISP, private or public core network infrastructure. These links could use the highest capacity and most affordable licensed band, E-band (70/80GHz), millimeter wave technology to provide up to 20Gbps line-of-sight (LoS) connectivity between the nodes and the core network, all the way to the data centers and internet gateways. Fiber could also be used where LoS is not feasible, resulting in a hybrid wireless-fiber network.

In all these scenarios, the reliability, flexibility, scalability, and field-proven extended range of V-band PtMP FWA provide an ideal high-capacity, low-latency alternative to 5G.

Additional Advantages

V-Band delivers:

  • Capacity: V-Band provides significantly higher capacity compared to the sub-6 GHz frequencies used in 5G SIM-based FWA deployments. The wider and abundant available spectrum in the V-Band allows for greater data throughput, reaching multiple Gbps.
  • Lower Spectrum Licensing Costs: V-band is license-exempt in most of the world, yielding significant cost-savings.
  • Dense Urban Coverage: V-Band FWA is particularly well-suited for dense urban environments where there is a high concentration of users and buildings. Its high frequency and narrow beams enable significant frequency reuse, allowing for efficient utilization of available spectrum while delivering gigabit capacity and better availability.
  • Very Low Latency: V-Band FWA, with its sub-mSec latency, delivers fiber-like performance, easily servicing applications that require real-time responsiveness, such as online gaming, video conferencing, and critical IoT deployments.
  • Lower Cost of Ownership: V-band equipment, spectrum, and installation typically cost much less than for lower frequencies – resulting in much more cost-effective wireless connectivity.

Ceragon, through its recent acquisition of Siklu, can now offer CSPs, ISPs, and a wide range of private networks, solutions that include FWA V-Band (PtMP) connectivity, terminal units for individual/building access points, and a variety of point-to-point solutions to backhaul remote FWA networks, all the way to the core network and from there to the endless world of online applications and services. The answer is not always (3GPP) 5G.

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