This is how telecommunications companies are implementing 5G during a pandemic

This is how telecommunications companies are implementing 5G during a pandemic

Then the coronavirus hit.

Telecommunication companies had to find out how to manage remote workforces, deal with concerns about technology supply chain disruptions, and strengthen existing networks that suddenly became essential links with the outside world for the people taking refuge in the place.

5G is expected to enable technologies like automated factories and remote augmented reality training, the usefulness of which is even more apparent in an era of social distancing and working from home.

“We have seen the demand [for 5G] it is higher than ever … I think there is good support globally to drive further 5G development and investment, “said Bob Everson, senior director of 5G architecture at Cisco. Cisco (CSCO) is a leading provider of equipment and technology for 5G networks.

Where are the companies located?

Most network operators recognized that the coronavirus created some obstacles to 5G’s physical construction, at least from the start.

Solving complex engineering problems and installing new cell sites, for example, is more difficult when workers must maintain social distancing and city permit offices are closed.

“It has certainly delayed a few things as people are discovering business processes: Operators are adjusting to a time when people cannot be together and the engineers who were there doing it have to be in a different environment. Everson said.

AT&T continues “going through some delays” as a result of the coronavirus, a company spokesperson told CNN Business. (CNN’s parent company WarnerMedia is owned by AT&T.)

Kyle Malady, Verizon’s chief technology officer, said during a Live broadcast of Twitter earlier this week the company “wasted a couple of weeks” on rolling out its 5G moving edge calculation sites, a key piece of Verizon’s 5G strategy.

However, both companies said the delays have been shorter.

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“Our 5G rollout continues and we expect national 5G coverage this summer,” said the AT&T spokesperson, referring to the company’s low-band network. The company also plans to continue expanding its 5G networks until 2020. AT&T said in november that 5G nationwide would be available to consumers and businesses in the first half of 2020.
Verizon last month noted Several moves he says will speed up his 5G deployment despite coronavirus-related disruptions. He announced the creation of a new virtual laboratory to experiment with possible 5G applications at a time when visiting a physical laboratory is not possible due to the requirements of social distancing. It also launched the high-band 5G service in San Diego, its 35th high-band network market.
The San Diego deployment was an opportunity to learn how to manage the construction of 5G infrastructure amid coronavirus, Verizon system performance director Marta LaCroix said on Twitter last month.

“Our operations teams and our performance teams are finding new ways to test,” said LaCroix. “Where previously we would have had a couple of people working together, we are finding creative ways to make that social detachment, using PPE, as we make sure we are ready for launch.”

After T-Mobile announced its 5G network nationwide in December, the company said in its most recent earnings report which expanded its network to 2,600 additional sites during the first four months of the year. T-Mobile also ended its merger with Sprint In early April, a move that he long said would help him build a better 5G network, faster.

“Our network construction continues and is underway,” T-Mobile said in a statement to CNN Business. “We are still moving very quickly to merge T-Mobile and Sprint networks, and continue to build 5G across the country.”

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The 5G release was perhaps better positioned to withstand disruption of the coronavirus than previous network updates, thanks to improvements in network technology, Cisco’s Everson said.

Network operators are increasingly moving towards greater use of “software defined networks”. This means that, in some cases, when the network infrastructure needs to be updated, it can be done remotely through the software, instead of requiring the replacement of physical parts of the system.

“We’ve done a little bit of work with the operators, where you can go through a cell site construction process that would normally take eight hours to several days, and through automation, the operator just shuts down, hangs up the radio and connects, and it automatically appears, “said Everson. “It makes it a 15-minute process. The more that can be done, the faster we can implement it.”

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Cory Weinberg

About the Author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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