Just Imagine waking up one day and seeing every gadget being connected and the internet lag becoming extinct like dinosaurs. Is this for real? Such a future is nearer than you imagine as 5G transforms itself from an idea to a reality in most economically progressive countries, including India. By 2026, we can expect 4.8 billion 5G subscriptions worldwide. However, when you hear about 5G wireless, the idea of a fiber network service running through the underground may not pop into your mind right away. But 5G will significantly affect both wireless deployment and the fiber line when it comes to the global network infrastructure. In fact, 5G’s uninterrupted network performance directly results from how much fiber is available to connect the cell sites.
“The first cardinal rule of developing a wireless network is to transmit the signals from the air and into the underground at the first available receiver point,” said Gary Bolton, Head of the Fiber Broadband Association. “It’s like building a house, where you require a strong foundation to make the building robust.” Similarly, fiber makes the 5G network more reliable and robust. Let’s get more insights into why robust fiber network service is imperative for the full-scale deployment of 5G.
What role will fiber play in 5G?
The 5G network utilizes “small cellular radios,” aka “small cells,” that boost mobile network coverage and are typically installed in close proximity to end users’ physical locations. Several cells are required at various locations to build compact 5G networks and need high-speed backhaul. This is where optical fiber comes in very handy. Fiber network infrastructure provides the backhaul capacity to these small cells that power 5G and will further offer the density, flexibility, and accessibility needed to support multiple applications simultaneously in the future.
Aspirational Performance Goals of 5G
Here are some perks offered by 5G which can’t be overlooked, and fiber rollout is critical to delivering all the below advantages:
- Up to 1000x more bandwidth/ unit area
- Up to 10Gbps data speed to mobile devices running in the field
- Up to 100 x more connected devices without any lags
- Network availability is around 99.999%.
- Almost 100% network coverage
- Maximum of 1ms latency
- Network energy utilization is reduced by up to 90%
Definition of a robust fiber network
A robust fiber network is an internet connectivity service that delivers the required network availability, resilience, and reliability levels. Network availability refers to a fiber network’s ability to accept new traffic. Network resilience is the ability to offer and maintain an acceptable network service level even if disruptions, technical faults, or other issues affect normal operations. Finally, network reliability refers to a fiber network’s ability to assist its traffic based on established use-case-specific needs like specific QoS (quality-of-service) for the duration of the communication.
The Benefits of deploying Robust Fiber Networks
One of the top benefits of fiber deployment and other internet connectivity methods is DWDM (dense wavelength division multiplexing). It enables the fiber to leverage different wavelengths so that multiple signals can be transferred over a single strand of fiber. As a result, 5G networks will experience better mobile coverage, faster speeds, and more reliable networks with little to no lag.
The low latency that robust fiber network services offer helps 5G networks process higher data volumes with little to zero delays. This will make mobile networks hyperresponsive, leading to higher connection speeds with more users simultaneously. However, dense 5G networks will require more fibers with the ability to offer access through splice points close to where it is necessary so that you can break out.
Additionally, fiber deployment will benefit end users. It will help launch more CSPs into the internet connectivity market and enable smaller telcos to offer competitive tariffs, thereby reducing the consumer costs of using high-speed internet. Also, optical fiber can help the 5th generation technologies to reduce hang-ups for the devices making new technology adoptions and inventions reach people of all financial classes.
How Much Fiber Optic Cable is Needed?
The 5G and fiber deployment solution installed for connectivity will determine how many optical fibers are needed to create a highly efficient broadband network with very low latency and high reliability. Here are a few possibilities:
- The CPRI (Common Public Radio Interface) protocol utilizes radio heads on macro towers. It needs one dedicated optical fiber for transmitting data and one for receiving data. So 24 to 36 fibers at a cell site will make expansion easier.
- You may need around 8 miles of fibers may be needed with the combination of 60 small cells every square mile.
- Operators can also adopt WDM (wave division multiplexed) systems to reduce the fibers in a cable as you can transmit multiple signals in a single strand.
How can a Robust fiber network power 5G?
Transfer of Real-Time Data
One of the perks of a 5G network is that it supports big data and the Internet of Things, both of which depend on real-time data transfer and need to run 24/7. Every critical decision and further planning are made automatically by leveraging this data. Hence, higher bandwidth and reduced latency are required to ensure that the data reaches its destination quickly. A robust optical fiber network service is the only connectivity option that offers a high level of bandwidth and can thus perform this data transfer without any hassles.
Increasing Network Demands
As data transfers occur 24/7, the network must be robust and offer uninterrupted internet connectivity. This is due to the explosive growth in the number of users and devices. However, there is another layer of connectivity you may not know about. There are devices that are not managed or controlled by operators, like surveillance cameras and smart LED lighting fixtures. These devices directly connect to the network and run independently. By bringing optical fiber near the edge of the network, arenas and big stadiums will be able to take advantage of the higher bandwidth and dependability of 5G.
Higher Radio Frequency and Small Cells
To achieve the optimum 5G network performance, more small cells and mobile edge computing must be deployed to mitigate any network shortcomings. The deployment of these small cells typically leverages the mm-wave spectrum, which is a high-frequency wave with frequencies ranging from 30 to 300 GHz. And these depend heavily on fiber network services for the backhaul part. In addition, compared to all pre-existing mobile networks (2G, 3G, and 4G), 5G requires higher radio frequencies to manage massive amounts of data. However, these frequencies operate over short ranges; hence, additional “cells” must be installed per unit area throughout the receiving location.
To conclude, optical fiber rollout is imperative for 5G since it offers features like scalability and security, and it manages large backhaul traffic generated 24×7. This is because optical fiber can withstand 5G’s higher speeds with minimal attenuation, resist electromagnetic interference, and provide unlimited bandwidth potential.
As 5G continues to be deployed on a mass scale across the globe, the demand for fiber networks will also skyrocket simultaneously. To keep up with 5G bandwidth demands, CSPs must ensure a robust fiber network is available to maximize the 5G capabilities for now and many decades in the future.