On June 12, 2019, I participated in a panel discussion at the DASpedia 5G Congress. The conversation included consideration of current and future CRE wireless network needs. At that panel some key points were discussed:
Key Issues for CRE owners and managers include:
- When it comes to 5G wireless connectivity, it’s important to distinguish between what is possible today and what you’ll need tomorrow. Ongoing improvements in LTE technology will maintain its relevance for years to come. Keep in mind that it’s possible for LTE 4G and 5G to coexist during any transition.
- To prepare for the future, create a 5G roadmap with clearly defined goals. Understand the expectations of your current and future tenants. You’ll want to be clear about your enterprise’s 5G timing. I’d recommend that you create a strategic plan. This should include short-term (next 18 months), mid-term (18-36 months) and long-term (4-5 years) goals. Your goals should reflect the fact that widespread private 5G deployments lie years into the future. Still, if you want to offer prospective tenants a competitive mix of amenities, you need a progressive plan.
- For the short-term, consider that Private LTE already delivers data usage savings, enhanced security and better traffic flow. Long-term, the allure of 5G is undeniable. First, it is anywhere from 10 to 100 times faster than LTE 4G. Second, it dramatically increases connection density.
Increasing needs will drive the evolution of private LTE and 5G wireless networks. Consider the many demands on private wireless networks in the future:
- More mobile devices on-premises
- Increased HD video streaming
- IoT requirements
- Security needs, including wireless access cards
- Changing shopper behavior
For example, retail shoppers increasingly use their smartphones while in the store. Eventually, 5G will deliver the low-latency, speed and coverage consumers and workers will come to expect.
Private LTE & CBRS: New Opportunities
As we discuss private wireless networks deployed in commercial real estate buildings, it’s important to define terms:
- Private LTE networks serve individual enterprises, educational institutions and government entities. Regular mobile carriers operate some, while third-party operators (3PO) run others. Some use licensed spectrum; others use unlicensed spectrum.
- Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) occupies a 150 MHz-wide band of the spectrum. For many years, it was mostly used by the U.S. Navy’s radar systems. Although this will continue, unused portions are now available for commercial use.
CBRS offers CRE owners/managers a new path to effective wireless coverage. For many, CBRS is the next big thing that they haven’t really heard about yet. It provides a way to deploy private 5G networks without costly spectrum licenses. Since a CBRS-based network is not aligned with any single carrier, third-party installation and operation is an option.
For more about CBRS and 5G, check out the video, “Commercial Real Estate is Changing, Are You Still A Rated.” It includes a discussion I had with Rich Berliner, founder of Connected/RE magazine.
Berliner observes that “amenities are everything” in today’s commercial real estate market. Building owners must deliver the kind of connectivity that tenants and their employees expect. When it comes to wireless network upgrades, he says, “Don’t wait, that’s the important message in commercial real estate.” Still, Berliner believes that widespread private 5G is a few years out yet. Availability of 5G phones is one key factor.
Case Study: The Farley Building
How does a CRE owner/manager transition existing wireless services to Private LTE and 5G? Let’s look at one case study. New York City’s Farley Building is an iconic civic structure constructed in 1912 and expanded in 1934. The massive structure is across the street from Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. The updated building will include 740,000 square feet of office space, 120,000 square feet of curated retail and a “majestic train hall.”
Developers are transforming it into “New York City's best-in-class creative office hub.” To this end, they are providing a distributed antenna system (DAS), along “with space allocation for multiple carriers.”
If your tenants aren’t already asking about 5G, they will be soon. You’ll want to respond with a well-conceived 5G roadmap. Using CBRS for upgraded private LTE may be part of that plan.
SOLiD connects people, places and things with innovative telecom tech. We’ve been at the forefront of multi-carrier DAS. Now, we’re excited about the potential for CBRS-based systems.
To learn how to apply the latest technology to your wireless needs, please contact us today.