BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.
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24 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | MARCH/APRIL 2017 RURAL BROADBAND 5G Is Not the Answer For Rural Broadband 5G wireless, due to begin rolling out in 2020, will improve mobile broadband and support the internet of things. It may even be suitable for fixed broadband in dense urban areas. But it has neither the capacity nor the cost-effectiveness to address the rural fixed broadband gap. By Larry ompson and Warren Vande Stadt / Vantage Point Solutions M uch has been written about the phenomenal speeds that fifth- generation (5G) wireless networks will support. Policymakers have speculated that 5G wireless will solve the rural broadband gap and make fiber to the home obsolete. In fact, though 5G may represent substantial progress, particularly in the context of mobile service, it is more evolutionary than revolutionary. It is targeted primarily at, and is most effective in, densely populated areas. It is also suitable for the very low-demand, very occasional-use sensors and actuators that will proliferate with the forthcoming internet of things (IoT). But because 5G depends on very densely deployed small cells, it is highly unlikely to replace 4G for coverage outside towns and thus will not be a solution for the digital divide that affects those areas. Even within rural community centers, its requirement of "deep fiber" renders it unlikely to be cost-effective for fixed broadband, and it potentially bottlenecks the service at the same time, compared with fiber to the premises (FTTP). THE FUTURE OF BROADBAND DEMAND e internet connects people and machines throughout the world and has changed the ways people communicate, educate, provide health care, and buy and sell goods. E-commerce, social media, video communications and video streaming are taken for granted today. e IoT, smart-grid and smart-city applications, cloud computing, distance learning and telemedicine are only in nascent stages of anticipated exponential growth. Many broadband drivers, including distance learning, remote telemedicine, video conferencing and entertainment, involve the delivery of video over the internet. Cisco believes IP video traffic will account for 82 percent of internet traffic by 2020. is is significant because some network technologies are better suited than others for delivering continuous- bit-rate applications such as video. Networks that dedicate capacity to each customer, as most landline copper and fiber technologies do, are better suited to deliver this type of traffic than networks that share capacity among many users, such as wireless networks. Delivering video to a customer continuously for a two-hour movie on a wireless network means that capacity is not available during this time for another user. Broadband providers of all kinds continue to invest heavily in their networks to help ensure they are prepared to meet the customer demands of the future. Tom Rutledge, chairman and CEO of Charter Communications, has said that