November 8, 2022
Major Wireless Trends for 2022
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Last year saw incredible progress in the wireless and telecommunication space that should make for an exciting 2022. While the continued rollout of 5G will obviously be one of the biggest highlights of the year, there are certain trends that will impact consumers and businesses more than others.
C-band drives healthy and accelerated 5G competition.
Contrary to what the average consumer might think, 5G isn’t “one size fits all.” Carriers use a number of frequency bands to power 5G networks, including a mix of high, mid and low bands. Verizon and AT&T initially placed heavy emphasis
on mmWave, which offers the lowest latency and highest speeds but is very limited in distance and easily interferes with both human-made and natural objects. It’s ideal for densely populated urban areas and for in-building use cases — such as enabling multiaccess edge computing (MEC) or supporting robotic machinery in factories — but not for building a sprawling nationwide network. Conversely, T-Mobile has large swathes
of the low-band 600MHz and 2.5GHz mid-band spectrum from the Sprint merger that is well-equipped to support a nationwide network.
The $81 billion C-band auction in February 2021 allowed Verizon and AT&T to catch up in mid-band spectrum and launch their network as of January 2022. As wireless carriers roll out C-band as part of their 5G network plans, it will also prompt 5G upgrades for the in-building wireless space. It is exciting news for enterprises seeking faster and more reliable networks or dealing with transferring massive data traffic.
The infrastructure bill will greatly propel wireless growth.
In November, the Biden administration allocated $65 billion in broadband funding as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The lion’s share of the funding is to ensure Americans who don’t have access to affordable broadband connectivity can reach minimally acceptable speeds of at least 25 megabits per second. This is the latest, and perhaps the largest, attempt to ensure that the digital divide doesn’t continue to widen, especially as people become more reliant on connectivity for basic needs.
It is unknown exactly how the funding will be allocated since it could be put toward everything from Wi-Fi and in-building wireless to fiber deployments in rural areas. The U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is currently determining how the majority of the $65 billion in funding will be dispersed, but since 80% of cellular connections begin and end in buildings, a portion should be placed toward in-building for commercial and public safety usage. It is also unknown how the “Buy American” provision in the bill will impact the rollout of broadband services. A handful of telecom industry associations and ISPs wrote a letter on January 31 to the Biden administration asking for a waiver because they feel the requirement is nearly impossible to meet with the many different network elements and their respective supply chains.
Beyond advancing broadband deployment efforts, the bill is going to create
100,000 to 200,000 jobs, according to U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. She mentioned that some of the money would also be put toward apprenticeships, job training and recruiting these positions. As seemingly every industry is facing challenges from the “Great Resignation,” this could go a long way toward insulating our industry and creating long-lasting new wireless talent.