Verizon or T-Mobile's 5G expansion may be sped up by the coronavirus

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In the middle of last week, when offices started closing and infection counts became the norm, Verizon advised that its bandwidth usage has surged 75%. We can only imagine the situation now when some the most populous states in the nation are under coronavirus lockdown, and more are following by the day.

The Covid-19 pandemic will reshuffle our habits not only in the few weeks and months ahead while we are expecting an infection peak to be reached, but it will also leave long-lasting repercussions on how we work, commute and communicate, say analysts.

5G could be the savior when the world goes online

All of a sudden, everything is done remotely - from the morning work meeting through grocery shopping, to entertainment - and that puts a huge strain on the existing cable broadband network.

Regardless of the marketing talk about "100x the 4G speeds," the actual biggest advantage of a comprehensive 5G network is that it can sustain much more devices hooked simultaneously to one node like a cell phone tower with a much lower delay in signal transmission, i.e. latency. It is also cheaper to deploy than laying cables, though the mmWave base stations still need a bunch of them.

Thus, while the carriers are putting on a brave face regarding the capacity of their broadband networks, Jessica Rosenworcel, an FCC member, said that "we’re going to have a big stress test on our networks" and "these are still early days."

One solution is a faster 5G rollout, and Verizon’s Vestberg is on record claiming that half of the nation will have 5G access by year's end, including rural areas. This can only be delayed by some equipment supply chain issues that are due to the coronavirus disruptions. 

With everyone moving as much as they can online, though, and with the government greasing the skids with spectrum releases and 5G research incentives, a nationwide next-gen mobile connectivity network may actually be sped up by the current jump in remote communication and entertainment demands.

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