Us company CommScope is a billion-dollar company headquartered in North Carolina, and maintains a substantial presence by providing passive infrastructure for both wireless and fixed line telcos. Phil Sorsky, VP of International Sales Europe, has no doubt that the 5G starting gun has been fired and the race to dominate global markets is underway. He is however, certain that the current ongoing implementation of 5G is somewhat restrained and slow, basically because a definite use case for 5G has yet to materialize from all the hype.
A primary driver for 5G is the relief of traffic congestion in busy city areas and in due course, when 5G handsets become available far and wide, the positioning of 5G infrastructure will significantly increase, “whether the operators like it or not” (as Phil Sorsky puts it). They will consequently be obliged to continue to roll-out 5G by a mix of marketing pressures and fears that competitors will throw more money at the technology, and possibly incur a financial hit in the short term to ensure that they will be in the right place at the right time when the real user advantages and rewards are recognized over the next five years or so.
Sorsky is of the opinion that most CSPs are in ‘a state of readiness’ for 5G, not only because the wireless abilities of 5G still require the benefits that come from having a fibre footprint. The fact is that with no fibre, there is no 5G and even though it is now undoubtedly a ‘wireless world’ such a world still requires wires to function. All operators, be they combined fixed/wireless companies or wireless only, are building up fallback and support networks to enable them to handle the immense data flows that 5G will generate – especially when video is taken into account.
One of the most central problems to the roll-out of 5G is the cost of antennas in general and specifically, that of active antennas. Here, CommScope has a powerful story to tell. Generally speaking OEMs are keen to push the benefits of CSPs going down the active antenna route and active antennas do have an important role to play in 5G but they are expensive, heavy, cumbersome and problematic to position and maintain, and also consume a lot of power.
Active antenna technology is very suitable to install outside, in the open air, in very busy city centre locations; but passive antennas are able to function just as well in urban areas that are not quite as congested and permit 5G performance at a fraction of the cost of active antennas. This is where CommScope comes in.
It should also be kept in mind that the majority of data traffic is generated indoors and CommScope has solutions available that are both single- and multi-operator-enabled which allows many operators to be connected simultaneously into the same internal footprint but at a vast reduction on the cost of conventional distributed antenna systems.