IoT Spurs the Race to 5G

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There is no question that mobile broadband use continues to grow at an exponential rate.  The recent Ericsson Mobility Report measured total mobile data traffic in North America at 2.5 exabytes per month.  That is over two and a half billion gigabytes, and Ericsson predicts that amount to grow to a staggering 19 exabytes a month by 2023, in five short years.

Without question, an important part of that growth is the Internet of Things (“IoT”).  IoT promises to revolutionize the way we live, work, and travel. Unlike earlier generations of technology, the IoT evolution will birth an ecosystem of vastly interconnected devices and objects that will enable consumers to connect to, or control, their environment including their homes and vehicles, as well as delivering solutions to many other verticals such as manufacturing, telemedicine, smart cities, precision agriculture, and distance learning opportunities.

In fact, researchers estimate that over $5 trillion will be invested in IoT technology by 2020 to connect nearly 30 billion devices.  

The leap from 2G, 3G and 4G technologies to 5G and IoT spurs economic and job growth and exciting new services across all sectors.  That means blazing fast connections, as well as new services tailor-made for IoT. And while we are still trying to define the specifics of 5G and IoT with standards forthcoming and trials underway, many have announced and/or launched one pre-cursor to 5G: narrowband IoT (“NB-IoT”).

NB-IoT promises to connect billions of devices by improving the battery life and power consumption of user equipment, and increasing system capacity and spectrum efficiency, especially in areas requiring increased coverage.  NB-IoT in particular holds promise as a bridge to the massive connectivity portion of full 5G.

These growth forecasts back up what we know – it is an exciting time in the mobile broadband industry. To deliver on these promises, especially in rural America, policymakers must remain focused on allocating and optimizing low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum for mobile broadband use, streamlining the broadband infrastructure siting process and reducing the cost to deploy small cells, which will help to increase certainty and efficiency, and provide sufficient support for universal service based on reliable data.

To be sure, the race to 5G is well underway. Together, these tailored reforms will ensure the United States can lead in next-generation and 5G deployments, and competitive carriers will be armed with the tools to continue to provide the latest services to consumers in all corners of the nation.

Looking ahead in 2018, CCA’s 2018 Annual Convention, October 1-3, in Orlando, Florida, will address policy issues facing competitive carriers including the Mobility Fund II, spectrum, infrastructure deployment and cybersecurity.  With nearly 100 competitive carriers represented, and a host of networking and learning opportunities, CCA events are the premier destination for conducting business and driving innovation in the North American mobile market.  From interesting networking opportunities like our “Caster, Master, Blaster” events to a special retail workshop with Gensler, be sure to join us in Orlando!

By Steven K. Berry, President & CEO of CCA, exclusively for Inside Towers

August 10, 2018

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