By Richard Arneson
Whether you’re a dyed-in-the-wool technophile or just one of those people who has to be the first to have the latest gizmo or gadget, you’re probably eagerly anticipating 5G, which will provide for consumers a host of benefits, including faster speeds, lower latency and a more IoT-friendly wireless infrastructure. But when you hear that 5G won’t be fully deployed for another four (4) years, it kinda’ ruins the mood. Unfortunately, service providers can’t roll out 5G—or any G, for that matter—all at once. Think of the cell towers that need to be upgraded from coast to coast—it’d take almost half a million technicians working simultaneously to accomplish this feat in one fell swoop. Yes, the rollout will begin within the next couple of months, but if you’re not in one (1) of the lucky roll-out areas, you’ll have to wait…and wait…and potentially wait another four (4) years.
…to the rescue
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants to do something about that waiting. And they have. On August 2nd, they voted on rules to speed up rollouts of not just 5G, but new networks, as well. These rules are known as One Touch Make Ready (OTMR), a non-descriptive abbreviation that addresses the strict, cumbersome laws in place that specify the required distance that must separate network elements attached to a pole—usually a telephone poll.
When either a new service provider enters a market, or if an existing one (1) would like to address poor connectivity in an area by adding a site, any equipment or wires already attached must be reconfigured to ensure the required distance is maintained. It’s so painful that many speculate it’s the very reason Google Fiber had to greatly throttle back its once aggressive deployment schedule.
Currently, laws related to cell towers are handled through the jurisdiction in which they reside. Resultant installations are a headache at best, a nightmare at worst, and pole access to new competitors is delegated to “least important” status. Because accommodating new competitors is reliant on the reconfiguration of equipment and wiring by incumbent carriers, the process is, as you probably imagined, not one of their higher priorities.
According to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai: “For a competitive entrant, especially a small company, breaking into the market can be hard, if not impossible, if your business plan relies on other entities to make room for you on those poles. Today, a broadband provider that wants to attach fiber or other equipment to a pole first must wait for, and pay for, each existing attacher [installer] to sequentially move existing equipment and wires. This can take months. And the bill for multiple truck rolls adds up. For companies of any size, pole attachment problems represent one of the biggest barriers to broadband deployment.”
In addition to 5G, the FCC believes this new rule will mean 8.3 million additional premises will be passed with fiber, totaling in excess of $12.6 billion spent on those projects. In addition to faster installations of cell sites, the new rules will greatly enhance the fiber density related to wireless backhaul.
Mobility Experts with answers
If you have questions about your organization’s current mobility strategy (or the one you’d like to implement) and how 5G will affect it, contact GDT’s Mobility Solutions experts at Mobility_Team@gdt.com. They’re comprised of experienced solutions architects and engineers who have implemented mobility solutions for some of the largest organizations in the world. They’d love to hear from you.