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5G is Not Always the Answer

5G is Not Always the Answer

by Michael Schachter, VP Product Marketing, Ceragon Networks Ltd.

There is little doubt that 5G is the most hyped communications technology we have ever seen. From ultra-reliable low latency to massive broadband through exponential growth in IoT, we have been promised a brave new world of unimaginable services and applications. Driverless cars, remote eHealth, immersive AR/VR, and much more will be at our fingertips.

And yet, while service providers have snapped up 5G spectrum at enormous expense, and deployment of even standalone 5G is moving more quickly—also at great expense—monetization of 5G is still elusive. Communications Service Providers (CSPs) worldwide are anxiously looking for ways to start generating revenue from 5G.

Managing Monetization

Many equipment vendors, such as Ericsson and Nokia, and CSPs, like Verizon and T-Mobile, believe that Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) will be the first great monetizer for 5G. The ability to deliver fiber-like connectivity to homes and small businesses without the costly overhead of digging up streets is compelling in dense urban settings. Similarly, serving underserved remote users over the air is much more cost-effective than running fiber everywhere. All that is needed is to extend the 5G network to areas of need and to supply end-users with 5G, SIM-based CPE/Wi-Fi routers, and you get broadband everywhere.

But not every CSP invested in 5G spectrum, and ISPs worldwide make a living by bringing broadband to the underserved masses, often without 5G. Untold numbers of private network owners view their network as a tool rather than a revenue source. They would benefit greatly from a simple-to-implement and affordable carrier-grade FWA solution that is not necessarily a 3GPP implementation. What is their solution?

V-band’s Value

Compared to 5G networks that may be nonexistent, too expensive, or inappropriate for various business reasons, V-band FWA, which operates in the 57 to 71 GHz band, can be deployed relatively quickly and inexpensively. ISPs, system integrators, and private network owners can leverage existing infrastructure such as light poles, rooftops, and street furniture to mount compact and unobtrusive V-Band FWA distribution nodes, simplifying deployment and speeding up time to service.

Point-to-multipoint FWA connectivity is also an excellent solution for scenarios where data must be broadcast or conferenced among multiple users, such as in business or educational settings. Finally, even CSPs can benefit from V-band-based point-to-multipoint connectivity to backhaul high-capacity traffic from their small cells or public Wi-Fi access points in downtown or dense traffic locations.

The V-Band FWA nodes would be connected over point-to-point wireless links to the ISP, private or public core network infrastructure. These links could use the highest capacity and most affordable licensed band, E-band (70/80GHz) technology to provide up to 20 Gb/s line-of-sight (LoS) connectivity between the nodes and the core network, all the way to the data centers and internet gateways. Fiber could also be used where LoS is not feasible, resulting in a hybrid wireless-fiber network.

In all these scenarios, the reliability, flexibility, scalability, and field-proven extended range of V-band point-to-multipoint FWA provides an excellent high-capacity, low-latency alternative to 5G. Why?

V-band provides significantly higher capacity than the sub-6 GHz frequencies used in 5G SIM-based FWA deployments, which enables greater data throughput. It also has lower spectrum licensing costs as V-band is license-exempt in most of the world. In addition, V-band is well-suited for dense urban environments with a high concentration of users and buildings. Its high frequency and narrow beams enable significant frequency reuse, allowing for efficient utilization of available spectrum while delivering gigabit capacity and better availability. Finally, V-band FWA also offers sub-millisecond latency and delivers fiber-like performance, making it well-suited for applications that require real-time responsiveness, such as online gaming, video conferencing, and IoT deployments.

Ceragon, through its recent acquisition of Siklu, can now offer CSPs, ISPs, and a wide range of private network solutions that include FWA V-band connectivity, terminal units for individual/building access points, and a variety of point-to-point solutions to backhaul remote FWA networks, all the way to the core network and from there to the endless world of online applications and services. The answer is not always (3GPP) 5G.