SAC is working to deploy the next-generation mobile technology – 5G – for customers such as AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile.

In the SAC Engine Room, employees are working to acquire sites for 5G base stations. And SAC is building cell sites to support 5G trials in Las Vegas and Houston.

Why are customers moving to 5G networks?

Because 5G will deliver more bandwidth to handle more devices, with lower latency (less delay), and greater capacity.

5G also will support the Internet of Things and its specialized requirements. “Autonomous cars have to have zero latency,” says Cari Shyiak, CEO of SAC.

With low latency, 5G can connect devices to devices in the Internet of Things (IoT). Among the devices 5G will connect are augmented reality, virtual reality, gaming, autonomous cars, robots, smart homes, smart offices, vending machines and more.

“In practical terms, for SAC, 5G will require significant densification and it will mean a lot more in-building and lower-height access points,” Shyiak said.

Network density is one of the key differences between 4G and 5G. 5G will support 500 times more devices in a given area than 4G can.

Ultimately, with 5G, “People will be streaming video freaky fast,” said Scott Pomykalski, chief development officer. “Over the next 2 years, SAC will be as busy as you can imagine.”

Worldwide race for 5G

The worldwide race to be first to offer 5G services is on. In September, AT&T completed the world’s first wireless 5G data transfer over millimeter wave in Waco, Texas, using global-standards-based production equipment with a mobile form-factor device.

On Oct. 1, Verizon launched commercial 5G service in limited areas of Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento.

Verizon’s 5G Home service provides broadband Internet connections with download speeds of about 300 Mbps (megabits per second). That’s about 4 times faster than the average broadband Internet connection at home.

The first U.S. 5G handsets will become available in 2019. Initially, they will be 10% to 20% faster than 4G LTE. Eventually, 5G handsets are expected to download data 20 times faster than 4G LTE.

Dramatic differences between 4G and 5G

4G towers currently can deliver service for up to 10 miles, but true high-bandwidth 5G towers can deliver service only up to 1,000 feet.

Compared with 4G antennas mounted on 30-story towers, more 5G antennas will be placed on structures that are 80 feet tall or less, notes Joe Sanzo, chief strategy officer.

4G con­nects up to 2,000 de­vices per square kilo­me­ter, while 5G will eventually sup­port up to 1 mil­lion de­vices per square kilo­me­ter – or 500 times more devices.

Because 5G waves can have difficulty penetrating walls and windows, and can even be hindered by new leaves on trees, 5G will require lots of antennas.

FCC actions to speed 5G

In September, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved regulations to speed 5G implementation. They will require local government bodies to approve sites more quickly, and cap fees that municipalities can charge carriers to install small cells.

The FCC also proposes to free up more spectrum to handle all the expected 5G traffic. That’s good news for customers, mobile device users and SAC as we connect the world to the promise of 5G.