5G and critical communications

Radio Frequency Users Association of New Zealand (RFUANZ)

By Corey Weir, President, RFUANZ
Thursday, 26 September, 2019

5G and critical communications

There has been a lot of hype recently concerning the pending spectrum assignment for 5G services. This new technology will provide higher data bandwidth and lower latency but with smaller cell footprints (requiring more sites). These services will be ideally suited to data-heavy applications such as streaming video, but also smaller data payloads associated with large numbers of devices such as Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

There are a number of stakeholders interested in access to the spectrum, including the telecommunications providers, wireless internet service providers and emergency services, as well as other smaller integrators and user organisations. Due to the smaller coverage footprint, there is a greater ability to reassign frequencies geographically, which could enable targeted solutions to be deployed outside the established urban consumer footprint. As a result it is important that the spectrum can be utilised by as many of the stakeholders as possible to balance the needs of all.

As higher-bandwidth technologies develop, data is becoming an increasingly important part of everyday business. Accordingly the reliance on this data means it is more and more critical operationally. A reduction in the availability of this data can have a significant impact on business or organisational effectiveness and service delivery.

For years, mission-critical communications have been defined by digital land mobile radio technologies such as TETRA, P25 and DMR. Some now view LTE (Long Term Evolution) and, eventually, 5G as replacements for these narrowband technologies for critical voice as well as data applications. New broadband technology won’t replace narrowband overnight, if at all. Complementary to broadband, narrowband retains a role in mission-critical communications and business continuity, as well as efficient use of spectrum. Nonetheless the transition to embrace broadband data has already begun, and users should start planning now for this future.

Our message to readers is a call for calm until all issues have been considered by government.

To stay informed about the complexities of 5G in the NZ market, please sign up for the RFUANZ newsletter if you are not already receiving it (rfuanz.org.nz).

Corey Weir, Chairman

Radio Frequency Users Association of New Zealand

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