The past few months have included a series of acquisitions and mergers in which, among other assets, telecoms have gained mile upon mile of fiber. When Windstream acquired Earthlink in November 2016, for example, they took ownership of 29,000 miles of fiber, which is critical to meet the growing demand of 5G network deployment.
Fiber is important for 4G densification and the deployment of 5G. There is a growing need for denser networks as demand for mobile data increases. With the expanding number of connected devices, as well as device-to-device communications, all areas are requiring an increased level of service with reduced latency.
The Windstream/Earthlink deal is just one example of many companies merging to optimize their access to the fiber needed for 5G network deployment. Applications that are deployed using 5G are not able to endure more than one millisecond of latency. This restricts traffic from traveling to a terminal, then the core, and then back out to another terminal. More traffic is forced to initiate and terminate within an edge or access network. Data travels through an optical network at the speed of light, and one millisecond of latency is limited to between 50 and 100 kilometers.
What this means is that, in order to implement the 5G network, fiber needs to run between towers with smaller cells going into a base station. This process takes up a lot of fiber. In the past, there has not been a big demand for fiber because wireless companies enjoyed an ability to cover miles of coverage with one small cell through LTE.
The fiber footprint continues to expand as some of the biggest players in the market claim the most miles of fiber ready to deploy and support 5G, including CenturyLink and Comcast. At the same time, it’s not necessary to own fiber to deploy 5G, and companies that don’t own fiber are finding ways to remain competitive with the big three.
For instance, CenturyLink has already inked deals with key fiber providers to extend their network coverage to areas where they don’t have fiber ownership. Third party fiber providers will become an important part of accessing 5G network deployment for companies that don’t own thousands of miles of fiber.
To learn more about the role of fiber in 5G network deployment, talk with our consultants at Innovative Business Solutions. We can partner with you through any telecom decision and help you choose solutions that prepare your company for the future. We have the resources to help you not only implement the newest and best technology, but also deploy it to edge out your competition.