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Ubiquitous Fiber Infrastructure is Essential to Maximize the Advantages of 5G, According to WIA Report

Jericho Casper

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Screenshot of Rebecca Hussey from Fiber Broadband Association webinar

August 20, 2020 — The Wireless Infrastructure Association recently published a new report, entitled “Fiber: An Essential Facet of the Connected Community,” which finds that ubiquitous fiber is an essential backbone to 5G connectivity.

WIA’s report (PDF) recognizes that in order to maximize the advantages a 5G rollout has to offer, there is need for a low-latency fiber backbone, from which wireless infrastructure providers can build.

The Fiber Broadband Association hosted a webinar on Wednesday with two of the report’s authors, Rebecca Hussey, managing counsel of utility relations at Crown Castle and Jeffrey Strenkowski, vice president of Uniti Group.

About 11 percent of internet traffic is carried by wireless networks, according to a 2017 report by Deloitte. The other 90 percent of traffic is supported and carried by wireline networks.

Therefore, “the quality and reliability of a wireless networks typically depends on the fiber network supporting them,” said Hussey.

The WIA report notes that 5G wireless networks are the first to use higher frequency millimeter waves, which can only travel about 250 feet, so dense fiber networks close to consumers are needed for high speeds.

“Fiber deployments are an essential facet for providing 5G services across the nation,” said WIA CEO Jonathan Adelstein.

Adelstein noted that while fiber is what underlies wireless broadband deployments, businesses and municipalities face many challenges in deploying it, such as gaining right-of-way access.

The WIA report details further challenges to building fiber, such as the hurdles municipalities face in their pursuits to own their own fiber networks.

In an attempt to bypass existing barriers, the report outlines best practices for municipalities, broadband providers, and other stakeholders to utilize when collaborating to deploy fiber.

The practices the report recommends promote transparency, foster trust, and allow efficiencies that save time and money.

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