5G & Hospitality: What You Need to Know

Lightening fast 5G frequencies sacrifice distance and strength to travel quickly resulting in uneven and spotty coverage.
Michal Christine Escobar
Senior Editor (Hotels)
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5g signal above buildings

If you’ve been watching the news the last few weeks, likely you’ve seen multiple reports about the disagreement happening between 5G technology providers and aviation companies. While this problem doesn’t affect hoteliers – directly – it shines a spotlight on how prevalent and important 5G technology is becoming within the United States. However, 5G technology isn’t without its own peculiarities.

Consider this, 5G is often referred to as C-band or “mid-band,” which offers levels of speed far faster than that of 4G LTE, even closing in on 1 Gbps in the right circumstances. However, lightning-fast 5G frequencies sacrifice distance and strength to travel quickly, often resulting in uneven, spotty coverage.

Cellular signal repeaters, however, are a promising solution to extending the reach of mid-band, filling coverage gaps and bringing strong signal inside. To learn more about 5G and cellular signal repeaters and their use within the hospitality industry, we spoke with Jon Mykrantz, Vice President of Enterprise Sales at Wilson Electronics

What's the different ways network carriers can achieve 5G speeds?

There are three ways —  through low-band, mid-band, and high-band. The 5G mid-band spectrum, also known as C-Band, includes frequencies operating at 3.7 to 3.8 GHz. Carrier networks, including Verizon and AT&T, have built the infrastructure needed to deploy C-Band and are set to launch 5G service nationwide on January 19. The 5G high-band spectrum, or mmWave, is currently available in some urban areas and brings the fastest data transmission available to users. Because it operates at such a high frequency, 5G high-band has a very limited range of only 300-500 feet (depending on obstructions). 5G Mid-band balances the better data rate of high-band with the better range of low-band. Because it is more reliable than high-band but still promises faster data speeds, mid-band will be the future of 5G for most of the world.

Why is it important for hotel CTOs to know and understand the difference between the three?

All of the 5G bands have different capabilities and bandwidths, so it is important for hotel CTOs to understand their nuances and limitations. Mid-band is going to roll out much more quickly than high-band nationwide and will be the most widely available way for people to access the rapid speeds that 5G promises. As a result, in the short term, the ability to support strong mid-band 5G will be most important for hotels.

How can deploying 5G mid-band tech affect hotel operations and guest experience?

Free, high-speed Wi-Fi is no longer considered an amenity by hotel guests. It is an absolute necessity since today’s travelers rely heavily on their mobile devices. As 5G mid-band is deployed across the country, people everywhere will begin to expect the locations they frequent to support this new capability. A hotel that can provide strong, uninterrupted 5G mid-band to its guests will be able to provide better operational and guest experiences, resulting in a major competitive advantage.

Access to strong 5G mid-band throughout a hotel will provide guests with incredibly fast Wi-Fi so they can easily work remotely, map out activities, connect with loved ones and post trip memories on their social channels, among other activities. It will also benefit hotel operators, who rely on several wireless systems to ensure the property is running efficiently without any interruption, including guest management systems, guest payments, accounting software and facilities management systems.

Why should hotels look into using cellular signal repeaters on property?

Cellular signal repeaters are designed to improve 4G LTE and 5G cell signal in any commercial building, including hotels. Many hotels experience poor cellular connectivity in certain areas of the building due to several factors. Building materials like brick, stone, wood, and steel are often the culprit because they obstruct cell signal. Even state-of-the art building materials such as LEED-certified windows can block signal. Other factors hindering cellular connectivity include the surrounding geography such as hills and mountains, vegetation from forests and distance to cell phone towers.

Cellular signal repeaters will become even more of a necessity with the rollout of 5G because mid-band and high-band signals do not travel as far as 4G LTE signals. Lightning-fast 5G frequencies sacrifice distance and strength to travel quickly, often resulting in weak indoor coverage. Cellular signal repeaters can solve this problem since they are able to capture the outdoor cellular signal and amplify it inside a hotel.