The wireless industry has undergone dramatic changes this year. We’re moving ever-closer to 5G availability. The FCC held a vote on eliminating the personal use restriction in Part 20.21 for cell signal boosters, and LEED-certified buildings, while rising in popularity, contain materials that block cell signal in buildings, resulting in an increased need for cellular signal boosting solutions. As a close wireless observer who is deeply ingrained in the industry, I’ve pulled together a list of what I feel will be the biggest trends in wireless in the coming year.

5G and the importance of speed 

Everyone wants 5G right now. Historically each new generation of wireless technology has taken about 10 years to develop. 1G began in about 1982, 2G in 1991, 3G around 2010, etc. Following this pattern, 5G is likely to begin to roll out next year or in the early 2020s. 5G promises to introduce three new innovations: greater speed (100 x 4G LTE data), lower latency (< 1 millisecond), and the ability to connect more devices (100x more) at one time.

This technology will aid in connecting many far-reaching areas of technology, such as augmented / virtual reality, smart devices, self-driving vehicles and more. It could even enable “smart cities” by connecting traffic signals, emergency services and other vital applications to increase efficiencies. US carriers have been building, and continue to build, the necessary high performance infrastructure needed to support a high performance 5G network. In fact, to support 5G, Verizon is laying 12 million miles of fiber. Other carriers are building fiber infrastructure as well to support the network traffic and performance needs. However, several challenges exist before 5G can be fully implemented. 5G adoption is well on its way, and in 2019 we will move even closer to transitioning to this next generation of wireless technology.

The continued rise of IoT

Today, communication isn’t just occurring between people — it’s also happening between devices and the platforms on which they operate in order to facilitate the exchange of information and data. More and more devices, from vending machines and freezers to credit card machines and factory equipment require an internet connection. And the Internet of Things (IoT) applications accelerate, reliable network connectivity will become crucial for powering physical devices, vehicles, home security systems, and everything in between — and enabling them to communicate and share data in real time.

However, many IoT applications that support smart devices and other initiatives are being deployed in areas that cell networks don’t always reach or are obstructed, such as basement flood detectors or parking sensors in underground garages. In addition, with IoT comes new security concerns with credit card breaches and other hacks, making end users reluctant to allow any connection to internal networks. As the use of IoT continues to rise, we expect to see more demand from companies that will be looking for reliable, secure connections to ensure better and more reliable data transfer across networks.

Remote monitoring is in demand

Users would like the option to remotely monitor the status of their cell signal booster systems and troubleshoot any issues that arise, ensuring that the boosters are performing optimally, even when the users are off-site. Previously, installers, integrators and end users had to wait until they were on-site to diagnose any cell system issues resulting in costly truck rolls. Now users can remotely troubleshoot problems by using cloud technology to instantly view the signal strength of the various booster systems they’ve installed, as well as how changes in the macro network affect system received signal strength over time.

Using the cloud, a cell signal booster system can be remotely reset by the integrator or installer. Bands can also be turned on and off, and the installer can pull historical data and information that can be used to perform a number of diagnostics. Therefore, even if a physical trip to the end user’s site is necessary, an integrator will already know exactly what type of service or repair is needed before they arrive at the customer’s location. We’ve seen a huge increase in demand for these remote monitoring capabilities in 2018, and expect to see more cloud-enabled products that provide this service for integrators and installers in the coming year.

2018 was a major year for the wireless space. Continued performance improvements in LTE to Gigabit LTE has also enabled more new applications and a heavier reliance on cellular connectivity. In an October 2018 paper released by 5G Americas titled, “Wireless Technology Evolution Transition from 4G to 5G,” it was cited that global cellular data speeds on average surpassed Wi-Fi speeds. Ericsson’s February 2018 Mobility Report also noted that on average, more than 1 million new mobile broadband subscriptions will be added every day up to the end of 2023. Incredible! As someone who has been involved in the wireless industry for my entire 25-year career, it has always been exciting and continues to provide opportunity for growth and innovation. Our mission at Wilson Electronics, “Connect Everyone, Everywhere” has never been more important and in demand! The industry will continue to grow and evolve in 2019, driven by 5G adoption, the rise of IoT and the increasing popularity of remote monitoring, which will majorly impact the landscape. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2019 brings.

Jeffrey Gudewicz is the Chief Product Officer for Wilson Electronics. Jeff as served as the Vice President of Product Development at Wilson Electronics, LLC since January 01, 2015 and served as Director of Business Development and Product Line Management at Wilson Electronics, LLC since October 7, 2013. Prior experience for Mr. Gudewicz featured business development, marketing, sales, business unit and engineering management roles at RFMD, Sirenza Microdevices, Vari-L and JFW Industries. He has a diverse background in technical management, product development, marketing, sales and business development. Mr. Gudewicz holds a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University in Aviation Sciences and an MBA from Regis University.


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