CRE owners should worry less about 5G, focus on CBRS instead

When Altice USA’s CEO Dexter Goei recently shared details on his company’s plans to launch a mobile service during the first half of 2019, he offered commercial real estate owners some food for thought when it came to how much focus they should have on 5G networks.
Goei talked about how he felt about the wireless industry and how he thought 5G might affect cable. He explained wireless operators like Verizon and AT&T will have to build deep fiber networks that have a lot of small cells so they can compete with cable in regards to high-speed coverage. It will take carriers a long time to build such deep networks before they come close to threatening the cable industry on broadband, according to Goei.
Part of the reason the Altice CEO felt confident to share his thoughts about 5G’s prospects is that his company is conducting its own network service tests in Europe. Goei stated the company understands what 5G networks can do from a physics standpoint and that when wireless operators discuss the possibilities of 5G, “what (they) are talking about is probably the far end reach of the realm of reality in terms of what we believe the propagation truly is.”
Goei went on to say that Verizon’s 5G Home fixed wireless service is most likely not commercially viable going forward, given its on non-standard equipment and is currently in a testing phase. He also mentioned that Altice customers were currently using more data than any fixed 5G service could support—data usage was increasing by 25% annually, according to Goei.
So, if 5G does not look to pose a threat to broadband in the near future, it would be in commercial real estate owners’ best interest to find a more concrete way to provide tenants and visitors with strong wireless connectivity. That is where Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) comes in. Rather than wait for 5G, venue owners would be better served to put their focus on the 3.5 GHz band to improve the wireless coverage within their properties.
Not only is CBRS much closer to being readily available, the band will provide high quality wireless coverage that building owners are hoping to get out of 5G. With access to the CBRS band, CRE owners can set up their own private networks with LTE-quality networks. While LTE access is not new, how much building owners have to pay for it is. Before CBRS, CRE owners were reliant on wireless operators for LTE coverage and had to pay a premium for it. Those costs will be reduced significantly now that owners can have their own networks, which they can run their Internet of Things (IoT) devices on more smoothly than they could on a less expensive Wi-Fi network.
CBRS provides a best of both worlds situation for venue owners—they can get a network that’s stronger than Wi-Fi without having to pay the high prices that usually come with an LTE network. Plus, it’s more likely tenants and visitors will have mobile devices that can connect to an LTE network than 5G, at least at first.

So, while 5G is an exciting concept and carrier continue to conduct tests, CBRS appears to be the more realistic option. Not just in terms of presence and accessibility, but also in terms of meeting tenants’ data demands.

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