Crown Castle operates 40.1k towers, 80k route miles of fiber supporting more than 70k small cells. The company’s infrastructure is entirely based in the United States and it supports innovative 5G use cases.
Key Demand Drivers In-Place for 5G Adoption
Data traffic per smartphone in North America is expected to increase from 7 gigabytes per month in 2018 to nearly 40 gigabytes per month by 2024. This represents the highest rate of data consumption in worldwide and a compound annual growth rate of more than 30%.
Mobile data traffic growth rates of 30%+ demonstrate how early the U.S. is in its digital transformation of the economy. Further, it highlights the critical role digital infrastructure will have to support this growth. Even on existing 4G networks, operators face constant investment needs to keep pace with 30%+ annual data demand growth. Meanwhile, 5G investments have begun, which will further support these growth rates into the future.
In a 5G environment, as latency reduces, reliability must increase meaningfully from where the wireless networks are currently. Lower latency is needed, to ensure the devices that are used in the 5G environment actually function as promised. Further low latency ensures that devices can be relied upon for industrial uses. Increased reliability of networks and the reduction in latency, translates into a significant increase in the number of sites where wireless spectrum needs to be deployed. The sites include both towers and small cells from the likes of Crown Castle.
5G Initial Use Cases – Crown Castle’s Perspective
5G will significantly increase the demand on communications networks by moving beyond simply connecting millions of people. Rather it will connect billions of devices or “things” in the future, known as the Internet of Things. Moreover, 5G will expand the use cases of wireless networks by requiring ubiquitous, low-latency, high-speed connectivity.
Examples of new 5G use cases include autonomous vehicles, augmented reality & virtual reality and industrial applications that require networks to provide availability anywhere, at any time, and on any device. Use cases such as autonomous vehicles will bring the level of mobile data traffic growth significantly above 30% per year. At scale, the volume of data that autonomous vehicles will transmit over the mobile network will become more than the growth that the existing 5G network can support. Thus, the network needs to be addressed through more spectrum, towers and small cells. Crown Castle can provide this digital infrastructure in order to support these forthcoming 5G use cases.