Last week we discussed millimeter wave frequencies and how they are the key to achieving gigabit per second speeds in 5G networks. But what useful application(s) do millimeter wave frequencies enable? If you are expecting some fancy, mind-blowing application, you will be disappointed to know that the first use of the technology is for so-called “fixed wireless” service. This is just a fancy way of saying home broadband Internet access. In other words, the same service most of us get via cable, DSL or maybe fiber. Instead of a house (or business) having access to the Internet via some physical cable that extends outside the premises, the connection will be via a wireless signal to a small base station (sometimes called a “small cell”) located somewhere between 500 and 2,000 feet away. The small cell will be managed by the service provider and will be attached to some physical structure such as a utility pool, light post or short cell tower.
From a business perspective, there is some need for competition in the broadband access market. Because of the immense cost involved in providing a physical connection to a house or business—the so-called “last mile” problem—most residences and businesses, even in major metropolitan areas, have at most two broadband service providers and often their service speed is very poor. With 5G and millimeter wave frequencies the market broadens and so we can expect greater choice in broadband Internet access providers in the future. This increased competition should inevitably lead to lower costs and better service.