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Should FMs Hold Their Horses on Adopting 5G?


By Naomi Millán Power & Communication
Illustration with digital tablet with smart city and 5G network wireless systems and internet of things.

5G communications are finally available nationwide, but facility managers may want to wait a minute or 10 before moving to change any of their facility's infrastructure to accommodate communications using the technology, according to a recent article in Urban Land.

Currently, the 5G that is more widely available is in the low band frequencies, such as 600 or 850 megahertz. But the version of 5G that would deliver all the promise of radically increased speed and capacity is in a different frequency, between 30 and 100 gigahertz. It is not yet widely available, according to Forbes, and more importantly your average commercial facility will be nearly impenetrable to these millimeter-wave radio signals. Low-e glass will block them from the outside of the facility and if they make it inside the facility, concrete will attenuate the signal. Tall buildings with floors above the cell signal will also face challenges.  

These are already issues with 4G, and a distributed antenna system (DAS) will help carry the 5G signal into the workspace. However, existing DAS may not be upgradable to 5G, so accommodating 5G would require extensive retrofit. In addition, the 5G landscape is still rapidly evolving and facility managers moving too quickly to adopt it may find themselves on the bleeding edge. 

Naomi Millán is senior editor of Building Operating Management.

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