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OfReg preps for 5G mobile technology

The hype around 5G continues to build.

It’s the next generation of wireless technology and some of the world’s largest telecom companies like AT&T and Verizon plan to launch their networks this year.

It’s unknown when the cutting edge advancements will appear in Cayman, but the country’s telecoms regulator says it’s already preparing.

“5G is the next set of standards of mobile technology,” Utility Regulation and Competition Office Deputy Chief Executive Officer Alee Fa’amoe said. 

The potential of 5G is still just coming into focus for developers, manufacturers and telecoms companies. 

“It’s gonna be capable of much higher data speeds,” Mr. Fa’amoe said. “Maybe 100 to 1,000 times the data speeds that you can get today on today’s phones.”

He says OfReg wants to plan ahead, anticipating local telecom providers will bring the technology here over the next few years. 

“What we want to make sure we do as a regulator is pave the way for investors and current operators to either build new networks or upgrade current networks,” Mr. Fa’amoe said. 

5G will require higher frequencies to reach those anticipated super-fast speeds. High frequencies means the signals will have much shorter range. 

“In order to deliver that kind of bandwidth and those frequencies, you’re gonna have to have a much smaller cell sites, which means we’re gonna need a lot more cell sites,” he said. 

He says part of the challenge for OfReg is figuring out where those sites will go, who can use them and how those sites can be shared by more than one company.

“Does that mean more towers? Does that man a different kind of cell site? Nobody’s quite sure,” Mr. Fa’amoe said. “We don’t think it’s gonna mean that cell site towers are gonna spread out like light poles all over the place. What we do think is gonna happen is that we’ll be deploying cell sites on the side of buildings, and on the top of tall light poles and the top of rooftops. It’s gonna be a very, very different network.”

Cayman 27 reached out to representatives from both Flow and Digicel Monday (12 February) to ask if and when they may roll out 5G technology in Cayman. We did not receive a response by air time. Mr. Fa’amoe did say he’s been in contact with both about 5G. 

About the author

Kevin Morales

Kevin Morales

Cayman 27 News Director Kevin Morales is an award-winning journalist with more than 12 years of experience. Kevin is a Milwaukee, Wis., native. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism in 2005 from the University of Minnesota. He's a proud father and a loyal fan of the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Bucks and U of M Golden Gophers.

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