C-Band spectrum falls in the 5G ‘sweet spot,’ providing ideal performance and propagation
In 2021, AT&T and Verizon purchased the lion’s share of available C-Band spectrum licenses to fill crucial gaps in their respective 5G offerings. Since then, related headlines have left many readers scrambling to understand what a spectrum formerly allocated to satellite TV has to do with the way they run their business.
To put it simply, the acquisition and rollout of C-Band 5G by the largest telcos means expanded 5G Mid-band coverage throughout the U.S., dishing out faster speeds than 4G LTE and low-band 5G, and improved penetration (or propagation) compared to high-band 5G spectrum.
What is C-Band 5G?
There are three primary types of 5G spectrum bands: low-band (the coverage layer), Mid-band (the capacity layer), and high-band (the high-capacity layer or mmWave). C-Band 5G is a subset of Mid-band 5G. While the entire Mid-band spectrum is made up of frequencies between 2-7 GHz, C-Band frequencies deployed by AT&T and Verizon specifically fall between 3.7-3.98 GHz. When comparing this chunk of the 5G spectrum to its surrounding layers, frequencies below C-Band will have better propagation but lower throughput, while frequencies above C-Band will deliver better performance and lower propagation.
There’s a reason Mid-band is the world’s most popular form of 5G. Sometimes referred to as the “Goldilocks spectrum,” Mid-band 5G appears to be a sweet spot for network performance. It offers a balance of speed, capacity, coverage, and propagation, making it ideal for bandwidth-intensive and latency-sensitive use cases in more densely metropolitan areas where connectivity demand is high.
With the rollout of C-Band, carriers can offer their customers a type of 5G Mid-band spectrum that is both faster than their LTE and low-band offerings, and capable of reaching more places than high-band 5G.
Why C-Band 5G matters to enterprise businesses
The launch of C-Band unlocks the opportunity for enterprise businesses to realize the true value of 5G in branch locations—whether as a primary link or failover—as well as many in-vehicle and IoT use cases.
To explore the impact of what 5G means for business, take Australian-based Taylor Construction, for example. Following its adoption of 5G in 2020, Taylor experienced 20 times the performance of its 4G connection, creating a pathway for the company to launch bandwidth intensive applications including holographic building visualization, wide-area safety scanning, IoT structural sensing, real-time design displays, and large-site failover.
Taylor Construction isn’t the only company working with applications that seem to be pulled straight from Tony Stark’s lab. Enterprise businesses across the globe are looking to employ augmented reality, mobile HD streaming, Private LTE or 5G, remote diagnostics, autonomous IoT, and other solutions that will continue to be enhanced by the increased availability of 5G.
The deployment of C-Band also serves as a catalyst for others to adopt these advanced solutions for their own 5G use cases as they reinvent the customer experience, adapt to workforce changes, and improve operational efficiency. Current popular uses include HD event streaming, telehealth, and the incorporation of artificial intelligence and machine learning in distribution and logistics.
Considerations for the adoption of Mid-band 5G
The deployment of C-Band 5G presents an infinite number of enterprise possibilities, but there are a few things to take into consideration when planning your adoption strategy and 5G deployments.
- Determine your performance needs and requirements. For example, would a mission-critical application benefit from improved performance or propagation now or in the future?
- Understand where you want to take advantage of 5G. Does your carrier of choice offer 5G in those locations? If so, which types of 5G are available?
- Conduct a site survey to ensure your performance needs align with the network capabilities in your area. Then, plan for additional equipment needs to account for structural barriers.
- Analyze your return on investment. Some customers may need to select a new data rate plan through their carrier to take advantage of Mid-band performance.
Are you already employing 5G routers or adapters in your Wireless WAN solution? A simple firmware update to your 5G wireless router can ensure you’re able to take advantage of Mid-band when it makes its way to your area.
Whether you plan to capitalize on Mid-band 5G capabilities now or choose to hold off due to current performance needs or network availability, Cradlepoint has a portfolio of products specifically designed and tested to harness the power of the entire 5G spectrum for an endless variety of Wireless WAN use cases. Take our assessment to discover how your organization can utilize the future of wireless.