IMC Blog

Barriers to 5G Rollout

  • January 22, 2020
  • imc

While 5G has the potential to open up many exciting new possibilities in the world of IoT there are currently a number of barriers to its rollout. What is it that’s standing in the way of widespread 5G coverage?
1. High-Frequency Millimeter Waves

By providing mobile operators with more capacity to offer higher throughput and low latency capabilities, high-frequency waves (somewhere between 24 and 100Ghz) will help them to reach the promised high speeds of 5G.

However, high-frequency mmWave struggles to penetrate buildings, trees and other obstacles. This makes deploying 5G networks in cities a complex endeavor. Moreover, they don’t travel very far, meaning that a dense network of antennae is needed. Added to this, the mmWave spectrum isn’t widely available in all countries yet. 

2. Patchy Coverage

Due to the high costs of setting up 5G networks, many operators will be making use of lower-frequency spectrum in the range 600 Mhz – 3Ghz. In order to make use of this spectrum, extra cell sites will be required to achieve the same coverage. 

Due to the high costs of setting up new 5G networks and operators’ desire to get the most return on investment, it’s likely that they will only deploy 5G networks in areas where they will get high up-take. In practice, this means that cities will see 5G networks (in some cases they already are) far before rural areas (which may never get 5G).

3. 5G Health Scare

People are nervous about the potential detrimental health effects of 5G and petitions have been launched in protest against this technology. A city in California has voted to ban 5G cellular towers, claiming that they pose a threat to public health.

Although, as yet, there is no definitive evidence that 5G is harmful to people’s health, the rumors are out there and people are worried. If MNOs and governments don’t listen to and assuage people’s concerns then they could see public outcry over 5G which would slow down its adoption.

These are, in our opinion, some of the biggest barriers to widespread adoption of 5G. None of them are insurmountable and, with the will and some forward planning, they can be overcome.