The Need For Speed: Building The Next Generation of Wireless Communication

Posted: Updated:

Quick: What's the very first question you normally hear when someone visits your house for the first time? In the past, that question might have been something about the year the home was built, or the year you bought it, or maybe even something about the architectural style of the home.

But today, that first question is almost invariably, "Hey, what's your Wifi password?"

Whether we're using the internet for work, education, navigation or social media, we know that it has become a vital part of our lives. No matter where you look, you will see people of all ages holding some sort of smart device (or two!) and using their device sometimes as a phone, but more often as a small computer. It is not an overstatement to say that the internet and the wireless devices that connect us to the internet have become basic necessities - not quite in the same category as food, water and electricity, but pretty darn close. And along with this increase in use and dependency comes the need for faster internet speeds.

Wireless Service and the Need for Speed

The remarkable increase in internet speeds over the past two decades that you can attain with your wireless device is quite literally transforming our world. The first iteration of wireless communication capabilities was 1G (for "first generation"), which emerged around the 1960s. These devices carried only basic voice service at speeds of 2.4 kbps (kilobits per second). Think horse and buggy.

In the 1990s, 2G and 3G devices began to be developed. These devices were designed for voice and some data consideration. Speed jumped considerably from 64 kbps to 2,000 kbps, making it easier to talk and text. Still, these devices were more Model T than they were Ferrari. Then, in 2010, 4G arrived, providing true mobile broadband at speeds up to 100,000 kbps. From 1G to 4G there has been a huge transformation, and now we are looking expectantly to the rollout of 5G. What will this mean? Two words: “more speed!”

Achieving 5G

From 4G to 5G, download speeds will achieve up to 10 gigabits per second. Content that takes minutes to download now will be downloaded in seconds. Entire new businesses will be created, and significant advances will happen in areas of health, energy and public safety due to the ability to connect billions of devices and individuals at high speed. Accenture recently predicted that the birth of 5G in the U.S. will create three million American jobs and drive over $500 billion in U.S. gross domestic product growth.

5G speeds will be valuable for the economy and business, but just as a public highway system requires infrastructure investment to alleviate congestion and ensure traffic flows efficiently, so, too, with the information superhighway. 5G will rely heavily on infrastructure investment in fiber-optic networks and communications equipment to achieve its promise. Faster 5G speeds will depend on higher radio frequencies and greater fiber network densification. There will need to be a vastly increased number of small cell structures on traffic lights, utility poles and elsewhere. These structures, in turn, will be connected and supported by an enhanced fiber network. Underscoring just how important fiber is, the consulting firm Deloitte recently reported that 90 percent of all internet traffic travels over wireline fiber, even if it ultimately terminates on a wireless device.

The Challenges and Opportunities

Although the promise of new technology is exciting, it doesn’t come without its challenges and cost. While 4G requires large cellular towers dispersed every few miles to work effectively, 5G, especially in metropolitan areas, will require a massive deployment of small cell technology – basically, low-powered radio access nodes that increase cellular range and capacity in densely populated urban areas – to enable the network to handle the sheer amount of data transmission. Many Americans may believe we’re living in a wireless world, but 4G and 5G alike rely on infrastructure.

Some streamlining will be in order. The process to obtain a permit to install fiber to support the small cell infrastructure can be lengthy. With so much traffic relying on wireline fiber, it should be installed everywhere we live, work and play. However, fiber passes less than one third of the homes in the U.S., and only 39 percent of consumers have access to more than one broadband provider of 25 Mbps (megabits per second) service – the minimum speed definition of broadband according to the Federal Communications Commission. Adding and expanding Indiana’s fiber networks will help set the stage for consumers to enjoy the benefits of 5G. IFN looks forward to continuing to expand its infrastructure investment in the state to make that higher speed world a reality for Hoosiers everywhere.

James (Jim) Turner is the President and CEO of Indiana Fiber Network.

  • Perspectives

    • Want Your Startup to Move Faster? Use Two Military Strategies

      Speed is everything at a startup. So is discipline. By that, I mean the discipline to stay focused on the most important objectives, to do the late nights and early mornings when we don’t want to do them, and to see the results of our work as objectively as possible. It’s not easy, especially when speed and discipline often seem at odds. We think about this a lot here at Powderkeg. How do we move as fast as possible while remaining as disciplined as possible? We recently...

    More

Subscribe

Name:
Company Name:
Email:
Confirm Email:
HTML
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections
INPower
Subscribe
Unsubscribe

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • Infosys Hub to 'Reskill' Workforce

      India-based Infosys, which today broke ground on a $35 million U.S. Education Center in Indianapolis, says the campus is focused on preparing the American workforce for the technology jobs of the future. "Continuous learning and reskilling are core components of Infosys' DNA," said Chief Operating Officer UB Pravin, adding the company will use the facility on the former Indianapolis International Airport terminal site to train 10,000 new American hires.

    • 'Proven Leaders' to Head New Two-Year College

      Marian University has named Jeffrey Jourdan executive director of Saint Joseph's College of Marian University - Indianapolis, its new two-year institution. Michael Nichols will serve as associate director and dean of SJC@MU. In October, Marian and Saint Joseph's College in Rensselaer detailed a partnership to launch the school near Marian's Indianapolis campus. St. Joe suspended operations in 2017 after massive debt responsibilities forced the school into an attempted rebirth.

    • Renovations Coming to Edinburgh Premium Outlets

      Renovations are coming to Edinburgh Premium Outlets as plans have been announced by Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group Inc. (NYSE: SPG). Construction is set to begin this fall. The multi-million dollar plans include an archway sign, two new courts visible from I-65 on the east side of the property and a food truck plaza on the southwest corner.

    • Makerspace, Design Center Coming to Fishers

      A planned design center and makerspace in Fishers will target what its founder calls a "labor crisis" in the home building and design industry. David Decker says the $14 million Hub and Spoke will have showroom, office and warehouse space for member companies along with what he calls a one-of-a-kind makerspace for hobbyists, entrepreneurs and students. He says the makerspace will serve as a "shop class on steroids" and offer equipment including...

    • Infosys to Break Ground at Airport Site

      State and local officials will Friday break ground on a new U.S. Education Center for India-based Infosys. The company is initially investing $35 million to transform more than 70 acres of the former Indianapolis International Airport terminal site into a training center and 250-person residential facility totaling 125,000 square feet.