5G casts doubt on FTTP

In his blog on the impact of 5G Jola MD Andrew Dickinson questions the case for FTTP and considers why separate mobile voice and text networks are likely to go the same way as ISDN.

There is a lot of debate on social media about the impact 5G might have on fibre and in particular FTTP. With theoretical speeds of around 5Gb/s some people feel that 5G could make the physical local loop redundant. I tend to agree. As the MNOs demand more bandwidth, the fibre backbone suppliers are likely to do well in selling backhaul bandwidth. However, they may need to reconsider the business case for putting fibre into every home and office. 
A common argument against 5G is the unpredictable nature of contention. A couple of coach loads of tourists arriving in an area all streaming 5G could saturate local capacity, whereas a fixed fibre population is more predictable. I’m not convinced this is true. Our experience at Griffin was that empty pipes could fill to capacity in seconds due to a significant news event, and that’s when the maximum broadband speed was only 80 Mb/s.
The fact is that traffic management will be an issue regardless of local delivery, as it always has been. The faster we can go, the faster we want to go. Soon all communication will be over data with separate mobile voice and text networks going the same way as ISDN. At that point we will all have multi-network 5G SIMs and our phone or router will select not only the strongest signal but the fastest. 

As far as roll out goes it’s true that signal strength is weaker with the spectrums used by 5G. This means more ‘masts’ will be required particularly in built-up areas. However, in the bidding process for licences the Government put infrastructure sharing high on the list, which could make the roll out faster and cheaper. It will also force the MNOs to compete on something other than coverage. 

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