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Will 5G Replace Rural Internet Connections?

December 9, 2019

As the big name carriers all race to offer the first-of-its-kind 5G network, there’s a lot of buzz about the technology. Some policymakers talk as if 5G will replace rural internet. We’re here to dispel some myths and explain what this means for our customers and service areas.

What is 5G?

5G is the 5th generation mobile network. Its predecessors include G, LTE, 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE.

It’s said to be 100 times faster than the current 4G network, theoretically topping out at 10 gigabits per second.

Is 5G Really Happening?

5g replacing rural internet

As stated by PC Mag, 5g is “(Barely) Real.” Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T have all claimed to have some form of 5G wireless technology, though it’s only available in limited rollouts across select cities. Even then, the only phones that are able to work on it are expensive and likely won’t work on the future nationwide networks once implemented.

Since most of this technology is still solidly in the testing phase, we won’t likely see actual working 5G devices and nationwide availability until 2022.

Until that time, the mobile carriers will be working hard to spread awareness of their brand as the best (future) 5G provider. Expect lots of buzzwords and confusion as mobile carriers prepare to make the switch from one network to the other.

How it Works

In order to provide these super high speeds, a 5G network relies on very high-frequency radio waves that travel only a short distance. That means more cell towers are necessary to keep the network up and running. This may not be an issue for heavily-populated, urban areas, but the cost to provide a dense network as required would come at a high cost.

If we examine the history of the big name mobile carriers in rural areas, the expectation is that 5G won’t come to our area soon - if at all.

The Rural Gamechanger Myth

Policymakers are tossing around those terms, but many are skeptical. Will 5G technology be a miracle tech that will fill in the rural gaps in internet connectivity across the nation? Not likely.

In fact, T-Mobile’s own CTO, Neville Ray, has admitted to such when saying that the millimeter-wave spectrum used for 5G “will never materially scale beyond small pockets of 5G hotspots in dense urban environments.”

With the expense of FTTH, or Fiber To The Home, infrastructure for 5G connections, it’s unlikely that the tech will ever reach the areas in rural America.

The Hero: Rural Broadband Providers

In stark contrast, local service providers like YK Communications aren’t hyping up 5G tech just to skip over small communities like El Campo, Markham, Louise, and Ganado. While “the big guys” are spending millions on commercials and deciding we aren’t worth the investment, rural service providers are investing in infrastructure to bring new, faster technology to the communities we serve - right here in rural America.

In fact, YK Communications is bringing a fiber network to El Campo, TX: www.ElCampoFiber.com 

So our small towns may not see 5G anytime soon, what we do have as rural broadband service providers is the opportunity to serve customers that live, work, and play in the same places as our employees. Thank you for letting us serve you.

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