Q&A: 5G benefits and how to overcome the biggest challenge for 5G deployment

In the lead up to the 5G Business Summit, being held virtually on 20-21 October, we caught up with Shaun Newton from BAI Communications to gain some insights on the deployment of 5G in Australia. 

What will the benefits of 5G be?

The arrival of 5G technology has created huge anticipation and rightly so. 5G as a technology has many applications that will drive its effectiveness for businesses and public services. We are also at a point when artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and data analytics are reaching maturity. We can do so much more with real-time applications harnessing the capabilities of 5G in terms of speed and latency, combined with the computing power of AI and analytics. Future 5G capabilities will deliver truly connected – anytime, anywhere - communication and entertainment experiences. More profoundly, 5G networks will drive the evolution of smart cities. On the surface, smart cities promise to streamline city operations and create digital interfaces in traditional infrastructure. However, the true potential of smart cities is realised in the purposeful use of technology and data insights to make better, more informed decisions. Smart city technologies can deliver rich solutions to key public issues, improving safety, commuter experience, health, environmental quality and, more important than ever before, social connectedness, ultimately delivering a better quality of life for citizens.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for the deployment of 5G

5G will see a fundamental change in the way business and users interact with each other. Every product/service will either have 5G built in or will be built by a 5g enabled system. For this to happen, we will need more antennas, that are located closer to the products and users. These 5G antennas will also require more fibre, power and compute located at the edge, as well as access agreements to more real estate for various infrastructure, utilities, transit, and in-building venues. This is even more challenging when you have multiple carriers all competing for the best antenna locations.

How do you see the 5G model working in Australia?

In Australia, the major MNO’s have been rolling out 5G mid-band mobile services for some time now. However, the 5G rollout to-date has been mainly on the MNO’s existing towers and rooftop macro-sites, mostly for mobile capacity purposes. By contrast, BAI Communications sees new 5G sites as very good opportunities for the use of neutral host services by MNOs. The capital expenditure required for these new sites is typically very significant and, in most cases, not viable for single MNOs to absorb. Given this, as well as the operational challenges of accessing large-scale and widespread streetscape, designing sites and maintaining them, we believe that building and operating shared infrastructure is the most beneficial alternative for the MNOs.

Can you expand on the role of a neutral host provider in the deployment of 5G?

One of the main 5G opportunities for neutral host services is in the deployment of 5G small cells and this is just starting to happen in markets overseas. In these small cell metro sites, it makes a lot of sense for MNOs to share services and quickly address capacity issues in their metro network, particularly given the increasing difficulty in obtaining metro sites, and the increasing capital constraints MNOs are facing. Another main use case for neutral host services is in the regional areas where there is an increasing incentive to utilise shared services to economically service less densely populated areas with 4G/5G. Finally, there are opportunities in the 5Gmm fixed wireless market for the utilisation of neutral host services to facilitate wholesale broadband in conjunction with MNOs in many areas of Australia, again from small cell sites The 5G rollout in Australia is in its infancy and there are a variety of cases where shared, neutral host models make a lot of commercial sense for all MNOs. The benefits of the economies of scale delivered by shared sites and infrastructure are exponential, as the roll-out of 5G services by multiple MNOs can happen much more quickly.

Who is BAI?

BAI Communications designs, builds and operates communications infrastructure – cellular, Wi-Fi, broadcast, radio and IP networks – connecting communities around the world. With a heritage of over 90 years, BAI creates networks that unlock new services and revenue streams for our customers, enabling them to deliver better connected and enhanced experiences for people, communities and economies, every day. With operations in Australia, Canada, Europe, Hong Kong and the USA, BAI also has a majority stake in Transit Wireless (New York).

visit: https://www.baicommunications.com/

Gain further insights from Shaun Newton on day two of the 5G Summit, with a session at 12.10 covering the deployment of 5G and Smart City deployments in NYC.

View the full agenda here.