Cable claims a slice of the expanding 5G pie

Feb. 17, 2020
Cable operators are on the move early this year with 5G-related activity heating up fast enough to melt the February snow. The major buzz is the upcoming release of the new Samsung 5G-enabled ...

Cable operators are on the move early this year with 5G-related activity heating up fast enough to melt the February snow. The major buzz is the upcoming release of the new Samsung 5G-enabled phones with three of the big carriers quick to announce the upcoming availability of the wireless devices.

In Canada, Rogers Communications' (TSX:RCI.A) Infinite customers will have access to the Samsung Galaxy S20 5G series beginning March 6. The company has begun rolling out its 5G network in downtown Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal and has plans to expand to 20 additional markets this year. Rogers Infinite customers have unlimited data, with unlimited sharing and no overages. Brent Johnston, president, wireless, Rogers, said this is "critical" for unleashing the potential of 5G. Rogers' 5G network will initially use 2.5 GHz spectrum and will expand to use 600 MHz 5G spectrum later this year. The company also will begin deploying 3.5 GHz spectrum and dynamic spectrum sharing that will allow 4G spectrum to be used for 5G.

In the United States, Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) announced that Xfinity Mobile customers also can pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G and the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, beginning Feb. 21. Any customer that switches to Xfinity Mobile between Feb. 21 and April 5 will receive a $300 discount on the Samsung S20 series, while existing customers can receive a $300 pre-paid card with their purchase of these devices. Billy Stephens, SVP of wireless devices for Xfinity Mobile, said that the company plans to launch 5G data options "soon" so customers can take advantage of all the devices offer.

And Charter Communications' (NASDAQ:CHTR) customers will not be left out. Samsung's premium new phones will be available from Spectrum Mobile beginning March 6. Danny Bowman, chief mobile officer for Charter, said that Charter "look(s) forward to expanding 5G coverage and device options for Spectrum Mobile customers as the technology becomes more widely available." The company's 5G service will initially offer high-band millimeter wave coverage in dense urban pockets of select cities. Coverage areas will expand throughout 2020 using high-band and low-band spectrum. Spectrum Mobile customers with the 5G-capable phones will connect to the best available network, Spectrum WiFi, 5G, or 4G LTE depending on the location.

Meanwhile, Alaskan cable operator GCI announced recently that it has partnered with Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) to build a 5G network in Anchorage. Together the companies are deploying Ericsson's 3GPP standards-based 5G New Radio hardware and software to 82 macro cell sites across Anchorage. GCI's metro fiber network will provide backhaul services to both towers and building locations. The project, which is well underway, is scheduled to be completed later this year, and initial 5G service is expected to come online during the first six months. GCI already offers 1 Gbps cable modem service to 95% of households in Anchorage, and the company says it has more macro cell sites in the metro area than any other Alaska wireless provider. GCI controls 210 MHz of mobile radio spectrum in Anchorage, including low-band 600 MHz, 700 MHz, and 850 MHz spectrum. The company says its 5G deployment will take advantage of all five radio bands.

With the addition of parts of Des Moines, IA, Verizon (NYSE:VZ) has now launched its 5G Ultra Wideband Network in 20 cities. Verizon Wireless currently offers seven 5G-enabled devices, and plans to expand 5G access to more than 30 cities by the end of this year.

As for predictions, International Data Corp. projects the number of 5G connections to hit 1.1 billion by 2023. In 2019, the number of wireless 5G connections was 10 million, which means that if the predicted growth is achieved, there will have been a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 217.2%. And by 2023 5G is expected to represent 8.9% of all mobile connections. The determining factors driving 5G consumption include data creation and consumption, more connected things, and the speed and real-time access that 5G enables.

Ericsson has its own forecast: 2.6 billion 5G subscriptions by the end of 2025. In its November 2019 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, the company said it expects average monthly data-traffic-per-smartphone to increase from 7.2 GB to 24 GB by the end of 2025 thanks to new consumer behavior, like virtual reality streaming. 5G is expected to cover up to 65% of the global population by the end of 2025 and handle 45% of global mobile data traffic, the report said.

ABI Research addressed the fixed wireless broadband segment, saying that as operators continue to roll out 5G networks, the commercial launch of 5G fixed wireless broadband services can be expected to accelerate as well. Shipments of 5G fixed wireless broadband CPE are expected to hit more than 2 million units this year.

"Except for China and a few other developed markets, fiber-to-the-home penetration is still limited to less than 20% of total households worldwide. This creates a huge opportunity for the whole 5G fixed wireless broadband market," said Khin Sandi Lynn, industry analyst, ABI.

A roundup: Verizon has launched four cities in 2019 and plans to expand 5G Home broadband service in areas with a 5G mobile network footprint; T-Mobile is planning to commercially roll out a 5G broadband service to home users within its nationwide 5G network launch; Vodafone, Three UK, EE in Europe, and Rain in South Africa have also rolled out 5G FWA service.        

Sponsored Recommendations

Coherent Routing and Optical Transport – Getting Under the Covers

April 11, 2024
Join us as we delve into the symbiotic relationship between IPoDWDM and cutting-edge optical transport innovations, revolutionizing the landscape of data transmission.

Data Center Network Advances

April 2, 2024
Lightwave’s latest on-topic eBook, which AFL and Henkel sponsor, will address advances in data center technology. The eBook looks at various topics, ranging...

Supporting 5G with Fiber

April 12, 2023
Network operators continue their 5G coverage expansion – which means they also continue to roll out fiber to support such initiatives. The articles in this Lightwave On ...

FTTx Deployment Strategies

March 29, 2023
Cable operators continue to deploy fiber in their networks at anincreasing rate. As fiber grows in importance, proper choices regardinghow to best fit fiber to the home together...