Why 5G networks can't succeed without a small cell revolution

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Small cells, the foundation of future nationwide 5G networks

It's no secret that a 5G network will be the standard for internet connectivity. But to pave the way for a national 5G network, US telcos will have to work together to facilitate a successful, large-scale and speedy deployment of small cells, which will serve as its foundation. 

Currently, rolling out these small cells in the United States costs more time and money than it does elsewhere. This must change if the United States expects to keep up with global competitors, including China and South Korea. In our analysis, we stress three measures that the industry should carry out to streamline small cell deployment, making a national 5G network a reality.

Small cells: The challenges

Why does it take so long and cost so much to deploy small cells? Here are just a few of the challenges:

  • Identification of the millions of necessary locations 
  • Acquiring permits for identified locations 
  • Operational costs to lease, deploy and maintain sites for most of these new small cells

"Network operators can work with city officials and other stakeholders to overcome barriers to deploying small cells — by creating a framework that easily identifies the best sites for small cells, expedites permission for their use, and keeps costs under control."

- Dan Hays, Principal, Strategy&

The solution: Working together

Network operators can work with city officials and other stakeholders to overcome these challenges by creating a framework that easily identifies the best sites for small cells, expedites permission for their use and keeps costs under control. Here’s how: 

  1. Win stakeholder support for 5G and small cells 
  2. Reform city permitting to balance agility and oversight 
  3. Establish a nationwide small cell information exchange

Contact us

Dan Hays

Principal, PwC US

Tel: +1 (202) 756 1733

Chris Isaac

Principal, PwC US

Tel: +1 (214) 754 5035

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