January 4, 2018

2018 Predictions for Connectivity

With Net Neutrality dominating the conversation right now, it’s easy to miss how wide-ranging the trends in telecom really were. From IoT expansion and security to the state of FirstNet adoption, and the implications of 5G, 2017 laid the groundwork for an even more robust 2018. Here are a few of the things we believe are on the horizon.

#1. The Rural Connectivity Gap Closing For Good

While major U.S. cities receive almost ubiquitous blanket coverage, lack of connectivity in rural areas and largely uninhabited locations is still a problem. Without the necessary wireless infrastructure in rural areas, the digital divide remains an issue contributing to economic and social inequality in the U.S. In 2018, however, connectivity and wireless solution providers will change the landscape in a meaningful way and solve for the last connectivity gaps and dead zones.

By collaborating with major carriers and the U.S. government on upcoming projects, providers, such as ADRF, will expand coverage to unconnected areas and rural communities and work toward permanently closing these gaps. Consider Sprint’s “The 1Million Project” to provide better cellular and data coverage to schools and students across the country without internet access.

#2. First Responders Better Connected Than Ever Before

2018 will bring about dynamic shifts in the way public safety professional communicate with each other, due largely to FirstNet.  States will have opted in or out of the initiative by the time the calendar turns, and the initial deployments of the initiative will soon. In March, AT&T will begin rolling out its FirstNet implementation plan and build the LTE radio access network (RAN) within states that opted-in for FirstNet at no cost to the state. So far, 34 states have chosen to become a part of the nationwide public-safety broadband network deployment plan.

FirstNet will allow for better connectivity for users across the network and state borders, guaranteed service continuity, domain security, centralized control and enforcement of security policies, and much more. In times of emergency, such as natural disasters, states that implement FirstNet will be better able to collectively prepare and quickly respond to situations. Moreover, the states will be able to easily collaborate with first responders in neighboring states for help if needed. In addition to the deployment of FirstNet, we believe that IoT will enhance public safety and also allow for better connectivity than ever before. To learn more about how IoT will impact first responders, read the TechTarget article, Five ways IoT will change public safety professions, written by one of our colleagues.

#3. Carriers Will Set the 5G Standard and Deploy the Product

The potential influence of 5G, a new network system offering higher speeds and better capacity, has been a major topic of discussion in telecom this year. As AT&T and Verizon prepare for their launch of 5G in 2018 and broad deployment in 2019, it’s important to acknowledge that 5G is closer to becoming a reality and the implications it will have on the market. According to the Transformative Horizon report published this month, ABI Research predicts the convergence of advanced technologies such as 4G, 5G, LTE, CBRS, MulteFire, and IoT. The technology advisory firm also highlights how the convergence of technology will also merge DAS and Small Cell architectures in order to advance cloud and virtual radio access networks, multi-access edge computing, and fronthaul.

While there are still technical hurdles regarding the millimeter-wave spectrum, major carriers will be setting the standard and completing their deployment trials in 2018. As this happens, 5G will begin to cause the fundamental changes to in-building wireless systems telecom thought leaders have been speculating about this year. Learn more about preparing for 5G and four questions companies that provide in-building support for connectivity should consider in our blog post, Future Proofing for 5G in Business Settings.

As this year comes to a close, the telecom industry should be ready for 2018, a year of momentous change. 5G will be a key factor, fostering new use cases, entrants on the market, and lower costs for networking solutions.