As the calendar turns to 2021 and we talk about the great digital pivot everyone experienced in 2020, one of the many themes that comes up in any digitally focused conversation is 5G. A lot of fun stuff comes up in any 5G talk, including (but not limited to) faster speeds, AR/VR, IoT and autonomous cars. Last month, Verizon’s keynote at the CES trade show talked about how 5G will change the way the typical consumer experiences sporting events, museums, concerts and traffic flow in cities.
While all of this discussion creates a lot of excitement, the conversation that should really be the focus is the whole chicken and egg of it all. The ‘egg’ of 5G cannot be laid without a whole lot of ‘chickens’ – the wireless infrastructure players. And there is some big-time heavy lifting still to do in that regard! For investors, this offers a significant opportunity.
When describing 5G infrastructure, the analogy of a cardiovascular system is useful. Why? Because, like the human body, in a 5G infrastructure deployment there are many important parts that need to work with one another in a dense environment. There are three critical pillars in a healthy cardiovascular system: veins, capillaries and, of course, a beating heart. Bringing that to 5G infrastructure, think of three critical pieces necessary for it all to work: lots of fibres (the veins), small cells (the capillaries at the end of these veins) – but perhaps most critical is the macro towers (that all-important beating heart).
Stating the obvious, none of us can really live without a healthy heart. Similarly, any discussion about all the exciting things that can come with 5G needs to be focused on the essentials of what is necessary to get there.