Oklahoma City is not 5G ready. Here’s why.

First, I will start off by explaining what exactly “5G,” or the fifth-generation of mobile wireless technology is.

5G is very different than the current deployed 4G. Now, US carriers use lower frequencies — ranging from 700 MHz (megahertz) to 2.5 GHz (gigahertz). 5G uses a new approach, rather than using lower frequencies, it uses extremely high frequencies, called millimeter wave, or mmWave. As of today, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint are the only carriers that own 5G NR (new radio) spectrum, or airwaves. Typically, this spectrum is between 20 GHz and 40 GHz.

To properly deploy fifth-generation wireless, carriers will need to densify their current lower frequency networks using small cells, or low-powered cellular radio access nodes placed through dense areas in cities. Distributed Antenna Systems in entertainment venues, malls, airports, hotels, and arenas will also become a necessity for the success of 5G. Oklahoma City and Tulsa currently have no small cells, from any wireless operator. This is what will cause Oklahoma City to fall far behind, again, in wireless performance.

Finally, lack of small cells could also potentially delay deployment of LTE Advanced Pro technologies like Gigabit Class 4G LTE and ultimately, 5G.