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Are You Factoring 5G Into Your Future?

Posted By Robert Bell, Thursday, September 20, 2018

Mobile backhaul and base station networking have long been an important business for satellite and teleport operators, despite the fact that satellites carried less than 1.4% of global mobile traffic in 2016, according to NSR. The same company estimated, however, that satellite-based cellular backhaul in-service units would grow at double-digit rates from about 40,000 in 2016 to more than 120,000 in 2027.

Massive Growth in Bandwidth Requirements

The roll-out of 5G mobile service has the potential to accelerate that growth. The 5G standard will provide devices on the network with between 1 and 10 Gbps of speed with practically unlimited capacity. Supporting that will drive a 100x growth in mobile backhaul. New features already being deployed in 4G LTE encourage mobile operators to concentrate heavy-duty processing in data centers linked to remote base stations, which creates a market for “fronthaul” that is currently provided by fiber but is likely to need satellite in a 5G future.

Factoring 5G Into Your Future

WTA will shortly publish a new report, Factoring 5G Into Your Future, to brief teleport and satellite operators on the technology, the opportunities, the challenges and industry partnerships that are shaping the standard. It details a range of market-specific opportunities that deployment of 5G will bring.

The Internet of Things is already a market driver for teleport and satellite operators. The 5G specification is expected to become the standard for IoT, so integration with it will be a priority.

Communications with objects in motion, currently a satellite specialty, will also be covered by the 5G standards, which will tend to increase demand for service. Most valuable of all may be video. 5G will support a massive increase in video to mobile devices – and the economics suggest that caching video files at the edge could become a major business for teleports.

A Seat at the Table

The 5G standard will not be published in final form until 2020, and there are as yet no 5G consumer handsets on the market. But the satellite industry is pushing as never before to be at the table as specifications are established – because 5G is an architecture that will have a massive impact on how the whole world communicates. The mobile industry wants to finalize the standard as fast as possible and is pushing back on adding a satellite component. The satellite and teleport sectors need to keep up the pressure to ensure their fair share of the massive wave of investment that 5G will create over its decade-long deployment. 

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