There’s no doubt that 5G will bring faster speeds, lower latency, and even more reliable mobile services. But it will largely affect the demand for the wired infrastructure and will require a significant amount of trained technicians to work on it. 

Before 5G becomes common, the wired infrastructure needs to become 10x stronger and reliable. 5G is fortified with fibre cables as they will be great for easily streaming 4k videos and other bandwidth-intensive apps. Benefits like reliability and low costs mixed with major developments towards 40-Gbit/sec and 100-Gbit/sec speeds have made fibre optics a necessity for many telecom installers

Here are some reasons why fibre optic cables are the priority for 5G:

  • Network Demand

As data is being collected and transferred 24/7, the network demand, availability of better networks, wireless coverage, higher bandwidth, and lower latency has increased- all because of an invasion on inter-connected devices.

The rising number of users and the devices being carried by them is resulting in the download, upload, streaming, and transfers of unlimited data. However, in this case, the devices are not being controlled by the people. Instead, they are directly being linked to the network and operating on their own. So, if fibre optics get nearer to the edge of networks, arenas, hospitals, stadiums, etc. can benefit from 5G’s capacity. 

  • Real-Time Data Made and Shared

Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data are being supported by 5G, and they are fully reliable in real-time data collection and sharing. Therefore as decisions are being made instantly and automatically because of this data, and thus, 5G is needed to assure that the data reaches its right destination. Fibre cables are the first choice to carry such bandwidth levels of 5G. 

  • Higher Radio Frequencies and Nodes

To get rid of network bottlenecks, more nodes (or small cells) and mobile edge computing will be needed so that the expected levels of performance for 5G can be achieved. Small-cell deployments usually rely on fibre cables for backhaul and often use up the millimetre wave spectrum.

5G utilises higher radio frequencies (though they have short ranges) to carry huge amounts of data. Many cells that can cover up small areas need to be put up, placed as close as 200 feet apart so that 5G can show its magic as expected and provide multi-gigabit services to consumers. To provide this service, the cells will reallocate signals from carriers via direct lines or the air, spreading them across a large area. According to the app size, they take the shape of enterprise radio access networks (RAN), femto cells, distributed antenna systems (DAS), Cloud RAN (CRAN), and nodes.

Fibre is mostly favoured for 5G because of its security and ability to carry a large amount of backhaul traffic. Along with backhauls, fibre is also the no.1 option for the fronthaul part of the network which connects the small cells. As it can resist electromagnetic interference and offers unlimited bandwidth capabilities, it can easily handle the increased speeds that come with 5G.


For data to be passed on to the devices, big transmitters would be required which will connect to the internet through fibre optic cable glass which can transmit pulses of light. To execute this, fibre optics and cable companies are working on commissions to produce millions of miles of fibre cables with two filaments, one each for uplink and downlink.

Each cable consists of glass fibres that have been untangled using payoff machines that are 6ft tall, 25 feet long, and 4 feet wide. A technician will be able to identify which fibres to join while connecting two cables by the colour-coding. The glass fibres are intertwined with weather-resistant buffer tubes and wrapped up in synthetic aramid yarn that is then laced through weather-resistant buffer tubes and swaddled in strong synthetic aramid yarn for added protection. 

Lastly, a black sheath made out of polyethene has to be applied. These 30,000 feet long fibre optic cables are wrapped along poles, trenches underneath the streets, or under the ocean which can one day connect to the 5G-enabled devices.

Fibre to the Home and 5G

As FTTH project is a slow process, people are shifting towards mobile as an alternative leaving behind the advantages that come with this project as an opportunity cost. 

Of course, mobile communications have improved and become more affordable over the years, providing an amazing access to broadband. The hype of 5G makes us believe that it will give a tough competition to the ‘fibre to the home’ advancements. 

Fibre optic is the backbone of 5G as it provides affordable high-speed services discussed by telecom installers, vendors, and mobile service providers. Hardly 50% of the mobile towers are linked to fibre optics right now in most of the western economies. 5G might need a hundred-fold increase in mobile base stations which are to be linked to a fibre optic network. 

As compared to wireless networking, fibre optics can carry vast amounts of data over long distances, which proves that fibre-based telecom infrastructure will be the winner. In other words, the majority of infrastructure needed to deliver 5G will be based on a fibre to the home infrastructure. 

FTTH will also take advantage of the advancements in 5G, depending on mobile technicians being able to access that network, so it wouldn’t be right to expect an instantaneous development of 5G for the masses. 

Most likely, it would just be for a business case or where fibre is easily there to give fast service. However, 5G could also be a channel for the development of fibre networks, but the rules to enable national fibre optic networks will not be implemented quickly. Telecom installers and mobile operators might lose patience and go on with building their own fibre backbones. In this case, the economic feasibility of fixed telco-based fibre to the home will weaken. 

pervinder khangura

Author pervinder khangura

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