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Barclays: U.S. Currently Laying Good Groundwork For 5G

March 8, 2016 - Written By Daniel Fuller

In the United States, three of the Big 4 carriers, being T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T, are testing 5G networking equipment in various locations around the nation at the moment. Sprint is taking their time, but Verizon in particular, is rushing to get their solution off the ground and out the gate before any other carriers, although some have said that making a move before a standard for 5G is officially defined is a bad idea. Said standard should be run through the IEEE and in place well before 2020, when most predictions place the arrival of commercially available 5G networks. According to Amir Rozwadowski of Barclays, however, the current state of affairs is actually laying great groundwork for 5G’s full adoption in the near future.

Rozwadowski praised the groundwork that the big carriers in the United States are laying, on top of the passage of the Mobile Now Act through the U.S. Senate. The act is focused on aiding in allocation of wireless spectrum, making its timely passage a boon to the upcoming spectrum auction set for the end of the month. He also mentioned that the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler, seems willing to take measures to help the burgeoning 5G movement, including freeing up spectrum for wireless use before a 5G standard is officially defined. Together, all of these factors promise to bolster a nationwide 5G network build-out on all fronts.

The movement is not without its hiccups, however. Rozwadowski said that the first of what’s bound to be many conflicts has arisen. Specifically, the FCC is looking into current uses for airwaves in the 28 GHz, 37 GHz, 39 GHz and 64-71 GHz ranges to ensure compatibility and minimize interference in the face of spectrum owners, some being big names like Google and Microsoft, coming to them with complaints and concerns. Spectrum sharing agreements and relevant software and hardware tweaks would need to be in place before those airwaves could be used. Many carriers will also have to spend a lot of money and do a lot of legwork to refarm existing sites to 5G, meaning the build-out will be a bit of a painful process and possibly a slow one, though not necessarily so. In any case, the rush for 5G seems to be nearing full swing at this point and it would seem that the right ingredients are all there.