LOGIX FiberPulse Accelerated Business

5G Rollouts Move from Street Lamps to Rooftops

By Jim Hintze, SVP of LOGIX Fiber Networks

The 5G era has placed a powerful tool in everyone's pocket – but that power is only as good as the network your smartphone connects to. Ubiquitous access to 5G, with its blazing-fast speeds and low latency, has become a necessity for everything from streaming high-definition video to supporting the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). But with this necessity comes a challenge: how do wireless companies build the infrastructure needed to deliver widespread 5G coverage?

Street-Level Challenges

For years, the industry's vision for the 5G rollout focused on a future filled with small cell towers strategically placed on street corners and lamp posts. This approach promised a denser network with improved signal strength and capacity. However, the reality on the ground hasn't been quite as simple.
Permitting issues have proven to be a major hurdle. Public approvals for these small cell installations can be a lengthy and complex process, often facing opposition from concerned residents who may worry about aesthetics or perceived health risks. Adding to the challenge, the cost of trenching fiber to streetlights for a single 5G antenna can be cost-prohibitive in downtown areas where municipalities also require operators to pay for improvements to streets and curbs.

Mobile Operators Must Densify Networks

The major wireless carriers have largely completed the macro-coverage of their 5G networks. So their attention turns to increasing coverage within population centers including urban and suburban areas. That means more small cells rather than macro-towers that reach vast geographic areas. It’s not a question of if, but how. Mobile operators are looking for alternatives to street-level small cells to expedite installations, reach subscribers quickly, and bolster their 5G coverage.

Wireless Operators Are Looking Up

Faced with these obstacles, the industry has had to adapt. Enter the unsung heroes of the 5G revolution: commercial buildings.

Placing 5G cell sites on top of commercial buildings offers several key advantages. First, their elevated position allows them to expand network coverage to surrounding neighborhoods, ensuring residents and businesses experience the full potential of 5G. Perhaps the most significant benefit, however, is one of discretion. Unlike the proposed street-level installations, cell sites on rooftops are largely out of sight, out of mind. Gone are concerns about visual clutter in public spaces. Instead, people enjoy the benefits of a robust 5G network without even realizing the source.

Another major advantage of commercial buildings lies in their existing infrastructure. Many commercial buildings are already wired with fiber optic cables, the backbone of the modern internet. Extending this fiber infrastructure to the rooftop provides a high capacity backhaul for the cell sites, ensuring smooth data flow and optimal network performance. Furthermore, commercial buildings typically have ample power supplies to accommodate the additional electrical needs of the cell sites, eliminating the need for costly upgrades. Finally, negotiating with private building owners streamlines the process compared to navigating the complexities of public permits and approvals. Building owners benefit from lease agreements with wireless companies, generating additional revenue. It's a win-win situation for both parties.

The LOGIX Solution

LOGIX Fiber Networks connects thousands of commercial buildings across major population centers in Texas in Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio. These buildings have the ingredients wireless operators are looking for: fiber, power and location. Our fiber provides high capacity backhaul available to carry the mobile data coming into cell sites on rooftops of buildings. We can help wireless carriers identify buildings that fit their coverage plans and connect a cell site. As the 5G rollout continues, expect to see more and more commercial buildings playing a critical role in expanding network coverage. LOGIX is an integral partner paving the way for a future where 5G is truly ubiquitous, empowering businesses and individuals alike to unlock the full potential of this transformative technology.