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5G During the Pandemic: How the Wireless Industry will Adapt to Maintain Critical Infrastructure

The looming pandemic has affected life as we know it, and critical infrastructure industries have encountered many new challenges. For instance, local municipality closures, buildings on lock-down and restrictive pandemic-related mandates have all affected the deployment of 5G. However, wireless and internet carriers have made statements confirming their persistence to meet their 5G rollout goals, as fast & reliable networks are needed now more than ever.

T-Mobile has attributed their continued 5G efforts to “heroic teams” working on their network expansion. New CEO Mike Sievert did acknowledge that the closure or limitations of local governments and municipalities could cause delays in permitting, but that their essential 5G services would not be halted, says FierceWireless. T-Mobile has also recently completed their Sprint merger and are in the process of reframing 5G in areas that Sprint had already released it. According to CNET, T-Mobile will accomplish this by shutting down the existing mid-band 5G and then redeploying it to match T-Mobile’s other 5G networks.

PCMag reports that Verizon is adjusting placement strategies of 5G hardware, like avoiding multi-tenant buildings or those that have been put on lock-down in cities heavily impacted by COVID-19. Verizon is still expected to reach 60 5G cities by the end of this year, and AT&T is adding 20 new markets to its low-band 5G.

In 2018, The FCC published the Facilitate America’s Superiority in 5G Technology (The 5G FAST Plan) initiative, which is a 3-prong strategy to assist providers and carriers deploying the critical technology by: 1 – making additional spectrum available, 2 – updating infrastructure policy and inviting the private sector to invest in 5G, and 3 – modernizing outdated regulations to strengthen 5G networks. Now, amidst the 2020 pandemic, the FCC is still rolling out FAST plan strategies, like proposing the 5G Fund for Rural America, and proposed rulemaking to promote use of mid-band spectrum by unlicensed operations. Both topics were discussed in today’s live stream open meeting, shared on the FCC’s Twitter account.

Our team believes that although the pandemic may have presented major obstacles in the way of the route to 5G, COVID will not stop it. The tandem efforts of government agencies and the proactive efforts of Tangent and other wireless & infrastructure providers will ensure that 5G technology is deployed on time and will continue fueling reliable and high-speed connections for everything from first responder communication networks to video streaming apps and everything in between.

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