C Spire preps for 5G; Clay pays architect

Staff Writer

While the nation's major cell phone companies -- Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint -- have started throwing around the term "5G and even started offering the next generation of service in some cases, C-Spire, a common name in Mississippi, also is preparing to roll out its version and soon in some cases.

Monday, Clay County supervisors granted the technology company permission to mount a 5G transmitter on an existing rod on the Clay County Courthouse so the company can beam 5G service to homes and businesses within about a half mile "line-of-sight" of the transmitter.

C-Spire will pay the county $100  month for use of the rod.The company also is in negotiations with the city for use of utility poles and other potential transmission sites.

C-Spire's Jarod Baumann told supervisors the company is preparing to launch a 5G Internet service that will transmit 120 MB per second for $50 a month.

The company has not formally announced the service yet. C-Spire is preparing a major unveiling in a neighborhood in the Jackson area soon, Baumann told supervisors.

According to PC Magazine, 5G brings three new aspects to the table: greater speed to move more data, lower latency to be more responsive, and the ability to connect a lot more devices at once for sensors and smart devices. All 5G devices, initially, will need 4G because they'll lean on it to make initial connections before trading up to 5G where it's available.

The real advantages of 5G will come in massive capacity and low latency, beyond the levels 4G technologies can achieve.

Like other cellular networks, 5G networks use a system of cell sites that divide their territory into sectors and send encoded data through radio waves. According to PC Magazine, each cell site must be connected to a network backbone, whether through a wired or wireless backhaul connection.

5G networks will use a type of encoding called OFDM, which is similar to the encoding that 4G LTE uses. The air interface will be designed for much lower latency and greater flexibility than LTE, though.

The standard will work all the way from low frequencies to high, but it gets the most benefit over 4G at higher frequencies. 5G may also transmit data over the unlicensed frequencies currently used for Wi-Fi, without conflicting with existing Wi-Fi networks.

The magazine says 5G networks are much more likely to be networks of small cells, even down to the size of home routers, than to be huge towers radiating great distances. Some of that is because of the nature of the frequencies used, but a lot of that is to expand network capacity. The more cells you have, the more data you can get into the network.

The goal is to have far higher speeds available, and far higher capacity per sector, at far lower latency than 4G.

5G home internet shows one major advantage over 4G: huge capacity. Carriers can't offer competitively priced 4G home internet because there just isn't enough capacity on 4G cell sites for the 190GB of monthly usage most homes now expect. This could really increase home internet competition in the US, where, according to a 2016 FCC report, 51 percent of Americans only have one option for 25Mbps or higher home internet service.

5G home internet is also much easier for carriers to roll out than house-by-house fiber optic lines. Rather than digging up every street, carriers just have to install fiber optics to a cell site every few blocks, and then give customers wireless modems.
In other business Monday, supervisors:

-- Authorized $137,808 as the third payment toward the new Justice Center on which construction is about to begin. The funds come from the financial certificates in which the county is participating as part of the 20-year, $4 million lease purchase agreement to turn the 20,000-square-foot former Jitney Jungle/Pass It On building into three courtrooms, offices and related facilities for Justice and Circuit Courts. The $137,800 payment goes largely to architect fees.