As we live through the new normal we need to reassess our plans. And when it comes to 5G there's a lot of room for reassessment. Here's why.
Already we're seeing reports that due to Covid-19 and impact on people and the economy globally, 5G rollouts may be slowed down. While the 5G conspiracy theorists will revel in the pause button being hit, that's not why this is good news. It's good news because all the plans for 5G rollout had to do with where people, and their mobile devices were, not where they are today and likely where they will more often be in the future.
Much like where fiber is being deployed, not where it's needed now, 5G was largely planned to go where the densest levels of usage were or where coverage gaps that needed filling were. Now with more work from home, schooling at home and just everything happening (or not happening) at home, the need to look at coverage maps, deployment schedules and locations of cell towers and micro-cells all changes.
The tower companies and telcos though are not like small PT boats that can quickly turn in the sea. They operate more like battleships and destroyers. That means they don't shift around very easily, very well or most importantly, very quickly.
Lots of research went into where 5G is going to be deployed. Then there's securing the towers, erecting new ones, getting local approval, all before the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint throws a big monkey wrench as swaps of towers and the agreements that are already in place need to change hands and more.
In effect, the hitting the pause button allows the biggest enemy of a deployment, time, to reset. Now with new data being collected from LTE/4G usage, traffic patterns and online usage of cable, fiber and DSL connections, the telcos can rethink where they put 5G and when.
This is important as more data keeps coming out everyday that working from home isn't any longer an aberration, but really the harbinger of things to come. By having the time to sift through the new data, the telcos can now move their uninstalled gear, and RAN (radio access networks) efforts to where the people are, not where they used to be.
Sure the business sectors and commercial corridors will need 5G, but with traffic counts way down, and people shopping more and more online, having groceries delivered and more, the rush to make sure the commercially dense areas are covered isn't any longer as important. Home is. That's where 5G needs to be.