5G Means Building Small Cells ‘Closer to the Street’


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NAB Show 2019

Experts from Crown Castle, Intel and Samsung discussed the implications of 5G at the NAB Show Wednesday.

“Lots of companies forget there’s a network between you and content,” said Lynne Comp, VP, Data Center Group and GM, Visual Cloud Division for Intel. “The edge can become an opportunity for new value-added and for sales. As the network transforms to operate more like a cloud, you can add additional applications,” she added.

Comp clarified 5G is not just one network; users can assign different slices of the network to employ different characteristics, according to the Intel executive. A dynamic network can ensure users would have ultra-high bandwidth for video streaming, for example.

“5G is happening now. Billions of dollars will be invested,” said Chistopher Levendos, VP Network Engineering and Operations, Crown Castle. He said there’s more investment in towers, small cells and fiber, because existing infrastructure can’t carry all the needed data. Overall, more than $275 billion will be spent on spectrum, fiber and small cell deployment, Accenture estimates. 

“We need millions more feet of fiber, thousands of small cells,” attached to light poles or buildings, “anywhere in the street corridor. This is going on now and [will be] intensely for the next couple of years in U.S. cities,” Levendos said. 5G infrastructure builds on 4G infrastructure, he explained. “What changes with 5G is bringing infrastructure closer to the street.” He described the small cell buildup as “intense” for the next three to five years.

“5G is a fast pipe, and a really big pipe,” said Taher Behbehani, SVP/GM Mobile B2B Division, Samsung Electronics U.S.

He described being at a baseball game and connecting company cameras to a 5G network. He downloaded video to his Samsung Galaxy S10 5G phone, and was able to switch from camera to camera, angle to angle, during the game. “The combination of low latency and big pipe allows me to send video to the cloud and back to my phone, so I see my own version of the game,” Behbehani said.

It becomes a different experience if you add augmented reality, according to the Samsung executive. “Now there’s a new broadcasting cloud, which can compensate for what I uploaded, and advertisers can make money. Many of the components exist now. If any of us want to capture [an] experience, we can make that more interesting and fresh,” he explained.

Panel moderator Shelly Palmer, President/CEO, The Palmer Group, asked what use cases could occur for 5G. Behbehani said immediate applications will likely be B2B. “Because companies own their data and network, 5G allows them to streamline processing in the cloud, for example. Hopefully it makes life easier,” he said.

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

April 11, 2019

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