Typically, spectrum doesn’t become a mainstream topic. However, C-Band grabbed the limelight in the past few months when airports around the country cancelled or changed flights due to safety concerns around the official launch. Specifically, there was a lot of debate around base stations located near these airports interfering with the sensors in the airplanes. While this issue was soon resolved — allowing C-Band to finally come to fruition — it brought this new advancement in 5G spectrum to the public’s attention.
5G offers a lot of potential benefits but can be a challenge to quickly implement. The C-Band spectrum provides the quickest route for 5G upgrades while providing the ideal balance of addressing coverage and capacity needs. The three main places we will see immediate implementation of C-Band will be: macro, venues and fixed wireless broadband.
C-Band for macro
The innovation of 5G has been the talk of the industry since service providers first began learning the connectivity benefits it would provide over existing cellular infrastructures. With the exponential growth of data and capacity demands driven by new streaming services and smart devices, new 5G spectrums offer the carriers a way to keep up with the demand.
Although the higher frequency 5G spectrums (>24GHz) offer lightning-fast data speeds, they are unable to cover long distances and require line-of-sight (LOS) antenna installations. This leads to a lot more antenna towers and locations and a longer time to design and deploy the infrastructure. On the other end, the lower 5G spectrum (<1GHz), can cover these larger distances with fewer antenna locations and fast deployment, but cannot provide ultra-fast data speeds.
Leveraging C-Band spectrum for 5G creates the perfect highway for ultra-fast speed and higher capacity without the need for as many new antenna locations. This allows carriers to not only use new antenna sites but to upgrade existing sites with C-band antennas, in turn providing an immediate upgrade in the network performance while offloading traffic from other parts of the network.
C-Band for venues
C-Band has a compelling use case in marquee venues and stadiums where network capacity and superior performance are of the essence. Adding C-Band into an existing network is the shortest path to delivering advanced connectivity with improved venue experience for fans provided in a cost-effective manner by the team and venue owners.
Venues add a particular challenge as they typically entail a fixed location with a large number of users that are streaming, posting and heavily using the cellular network. Meaning they need additional data capacity and increased speeds to meet user needs, this makes the addition of C-band to an existing 4G/LTE layer essential. Several venues throughout the US have seen what these benefits will offer their fans and have begun adding C-Band to their cellular system. Their fans are now able to experience faster and more reliable connectivity that 5G enables, exponentially improving their game day or concert experiences.
C-Band for fixed networks
Fixed broadband infrastructure in rural communities is more important today than ever. With the investment bill targeted at improving rural connectivity and bridging the digital divide, the underlying network infrastructure is a center of focus. Enter C-Band.
Providing fixed broadband internet to rural areas has always been a challenge, the typical approach of using fiber is too expensive and impractical for most rural areas to implement leaving many of these communities with little choice on providers. C-Band allows fixed broadband deployment wirelessly using antennas, again providing a good balance between coverage and capacity to allow carriers to begin deploying broadband networks in rural areas easily and cost-effectively. With the new C-Band spectrum, carriers can now efficiently build out rural networks using antennas and cell sites (not fiber), offering customers new choices of providers and services.
The opportunities the implementation of C-Band offers the telecommunications community are endless, whether they’re being realized now or paving the way for the infrastructure systems needed to move forward. With the full implementation of 5G and wireless broadband access still on the horizon, the capabilities brought on by C-Band are a key first step. The immediate opportunities for C-Band lie in the macros, high-traffic venues and fixed broadband networks across the world, given C-Band is a universal spectrum being deployed everywhere.