A Connected Sanctuary: Why Indoor 5G Could Be the Future of YOUR HOME Comfort

In today’s busy world, our homes have come to be not only the places where we live, but also our offices, our classrooms, our cinemas, and – as we undergo one of the most fundamental socioeconomic transitions in human history – the hubs of our digital lives. Stuck at home more than ever before, thanks to reconfigured ways of working and levels of consumption, the indoor mobile experience has become a decisive factor of our lives, despite not yet being a reality that the largest share of the network investment can fulfil. How can our dwellings become implementers of the connective ‘Garden of Eden’?

Embracing the Indoors: A Shift in Mobile Data Usage

The step from 3G to 4G mobile networks took the mobile internet indoors and altered the world – now, there are expectations that the next step, 5G, will allow for an even bigger leap: of speed, of efficiency and of reliability. But there’s something more important than all that. Because if today’s mobile network operators (MNOs) want the next leap that 5G promises to offer, then they will need to turn their sights back to where, as we already know, mobile internet use is highest: the home. The home will be the battlefield for the next generation of mobile telecoms. In fact, according to a report from Ericsson, 80 per cent of mobile data is consumed indoors.

Indoor 5G: The Crux of Modern Connectivity

Although close to 100 per cent of new mobile-data usage is indoors, many network operators mostly consider outdoor coverage. So, more than half of mobile data usage in the UK takes place indoors at a time when mobile data consumption increases by a staggering 54 per cent year on year. Better indoor 5G coverage won’t just improve our quality of life by making web surfing and video streaming better – it’ll enable use-cases depending on the robust connectivity of myriad connected devices.

The Hurdles to Indoor 5G Bliss

There are good technical reasons why the indoor 5G dilemma is not so easy to solve, including the physical walls that modern, energy-efficient building materials can create, the dense, multistorey landscape of our cities; the fact that low frequencies cannot be focused as well as high frequencies; the time it takes to lay fibre cable; and the high infrastructure and technical costs for indoor conversion.

Strategies for Enhancing Indoor 5G

To overcome this, MNOs are developing a variety of solutions for large venues and localised deployments, from the installation of Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) in stadiums and concert venues to small cells and amplifiers used to provide mobile coverage in localised areas. While these approaches offer some hope, they also highlight that – at a time when the landscape is changing so quickly – it’s best to look at a managed approach, in order to achieve the right balance of coverage at a cost that makes sense for the area.

The Business Case for Indoor 5G

Implications of indoor 5G also extend beyond the home. Retailers in need of reliable indoor connectivity have long depended on it to deliver new shopping experiences, from the checkout-less experience, to ‘just-in-time’ in-app promotions. Similarly, people’s increased demand for breaks in entertainment and sporting events are indicative of the importance of mature indoor networks to modern leisure.

A Look to the Future: The Home as a Connected Hub

With more and more of our devices and applications being based on mobile data, the home is going to play a crucial role in indoor 5G coverage. This is a new landscape and one MNOs need to be at the heart of as we upgrade our networks. We want our homes to be the place where connectivity is at its best.

About Home

At its essence, home is the place where you feel most comfortable and at ease. And that’s the place where our digital lives slow down and get humanised, so this is where the Digital and Physical worlds should converge in mind-blowing connectivity if we want that to happen. If we overcome the problems and follow the strategies above, we will at least have a fighting chance to turn our living spaces into places where we truly want to be – connected.

And, as our digital and physical life worlds become ever more integrated, a connected home – designed to exploit the most advanced of these tools to create a true sanctuary of indoor – outdoor connected life – will become less a luxury and more a practical necessity to allow all that 5G and beyond actually has to offer. The path ahead may be bumpy, and it won’t necessarily be easy to achieve perfect indoor 5G coverage. But the home as sanctuary, utilising the full potential of data connectivity, is a compelling vision.

Jun 12, 2024
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