Best Telco Rural Broadband Strategy?

While all the major 5G carriers, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile will use similar core infrastructure to create physical networks the chosen frequency spectrums and the strategic focus are different.

“T-Mobile will attempt to roll out 5G nationwide with a 600MHz low-band service that will prioritize coverage over gigabit speeds.”

“Verizon will target dense urban areas first with very fast millimeter-wave broadband speeds” Verizon millimeter wave licenses are in 28GHz and 39GHz bands.

“AT&T plans to provide 5G services—featuring high speeds and latencies below 10 milliseconds—that utilize millimeter-wave spectrum at 39 GHz.”

It is hard to consider 600 MHz as the 5G spectrum as it does not provide the higher bandwidth and speeds which are promoted at 5G advantages. However, it does have some rural merit. Signals at 600Mhz travel longer distances and can penetrate foliage, windows, and walls. This is an advantage in rural areas were user density is sparse. However, at the current time, T-Mobile is more focused on mobile use rather than fixed service use. You will need a 5G phone to use this service.

In contrast, Verizon is planning to roll out fixed use services and compete with the cable companies to provide access and content. There seem to be little interest in expanding into rural communities, beyond the 4G LTE services they provide today. They are deploying small cells using mmWave with 100 to the 250-meter range which does not make sense for rural service.

Also, AT&T expects its 5G deployments to operate in the millimeter-wave spectrum with transmitters sites that will be within 150-250 meters of each other. AT&T plans to provide 5G services—featuring high speeds and latencies below 10 milliseconds—that utilize millimeter-wave spectrum at 39 GHz, which does not propagate signals nearly as well as the lower-band 700MHz signals used in mobile service.

The rural service outlook is somewhat murky, with AT&T and Verizon focused short distance mmWave spectrum and T-Mobile using their long distance 600MHz spectrum for mobile service. Stay Tuned, as market forces often result in strategic changes.

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