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  • Is 5G Going to Happen as Planned? Written by Leticia Latino-vanSplunteren, CEO, Neptuno USA, Back2Basics Podcast Host

Is 5G Going to Happen as Planned? Written by Leticia Latino-vanSplunteren, CEO, Neptuno USA, Back2Basics Podcast Host

05 Apr 2022 4:44 PM | Anonymous

Fresh out of attending Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, a show I’ve attended for +20 years, I can’t help but reflect on how far the Wireless Industry has come.  Being a Nortel Alum, I’ve always been intrigued with the actual technology and how the “communications magic” happens.  Technology really wants to move at a faster pace than we can keep up with: Talks about 6G were happening all over the Conference, and we haven’t even fully yet experienced 5G yet. Sometimes I feel that our industry is on a mission to confuse us all!  

I have lost count of how many times a non-telecom friend has asked me, almost with shame, to explain the whole “G’s” in SIMPLE terms, and here’s what I’ve come up with.    

-1G: Purely Voice Communication,
-2G: 1G + Texts,
-3G: 2G + Web browsing,  
-4G: 3G + Video Streaming, 
-5G: 10 times faster speed than 4G! (Enabling virtual reality, robotics, and automation of almost everything you can imagine.)      

When people learn that my family has been building Wireless Towers since 1972, there are two main comments associated with that: “can you please build a tower at XXXX, because the coverage there is really bad” OR “So, I guess you won’t sign a petition to prevent the buildout of such and such tower in our neighborhood?”   It is truly crazy to see how we, humans, struggle with admitting that technology has already invaded the way we live.   We have a love and hate relationship with it.  We don’t want the tower, or the equipment in our neighborhood, but we expect to stream our favorite Netflix show while we wait at the doctor’s office.  We can’t have our cake and eat it too.    

Early on, one of the main challenges preventing a full speed 5G deployment was spectrum availability, but with the completion of the C-Band spectrum auction, where America’s largest carriers spent an unprecedented $93B one can be sure that any roadblocks to deployment will be cleared.    Another challenge has been regulatory approval.  I recently got a handful of calls to gauge my opinion when the FAA delaying 5G roll-out was all over the news.   “Is 5G going to happen as planned?”  I believe that the wireless industry is going above and beyond with its voluntary mitigation efforts to address the latest concerns brought by the FAA’s about aviation safety, and in fact, just very recently, the FAA issued an official statement that hints that all stakeholders are now working with a strong collaborative approach and that a resolution is on the horizon.   

Workforce shortage has also been a recurring challenge in preventing 5G deployments to go at a faster pace and having a skilled and broad workforce will be more important than ever to accomplish the industry’s work.   The Wireless Infrastructure Association has really been an impactful advocate for this cause, and in furthering so many different initiatives that do benefit workforce development

The enactment of the historic ‘Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’ will provide unprecedented levels of government support for infrastructure improvement.   Due to this, it is expected that this year’s carrier’s CAPEX spending on mobile networks will accelerate, creating a growth momentum.  We will go from having just a few small 5G Private Network projects to many significant ones, which will be the trigger for new and innovative business models, equipment production, and new and emerging players in the 5G ecosystem.   

 If one thing can be sure, it is that embarking on deploying a transformational technology like 5G won’t be achieved without its fair number of hurdles. What needs to happen to change the narrative? We must recognize that there is a global race to 5G, and the U.S. is committed to winning it.  This is an exciting time, and we all should be thrilled to be witnessing this transformation as it happens. Women in Wireless will have unprecedented opportunities to take on leadership roles and prompt meaningful change on so many fronts.   Our time is now, let’s keep moving forward, learning, lifting each other up, and doing good work in our own circles.  Let’s create ripples we can be proud of!

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