Historically, most U.S. telecom equipment was manufactured to meet requirements that were specified by various mobile carriers. Phones that worked on Verizon, for instance, wouldn’t communicate with AT&T’s network, meaning that iPhones had to be manufactured with different chipsets. Some of this has been alleviated with the fairly recent launch of unlocked phones and SIM cards, but many consumers are still carrying devices that are limited to one network.
This can lead to issues. As carriers sunset their legacy networks, it is likely that many Americans will be required to upgrade their phones. Verizon, for instance, is planning to retire its 2G network by the end of 2019. While there presumably isn’t a ton of traffic on that particular network, there are still consumer use cases for it.
It isn’t just consumers who could be affected. Verizon’s 2G network is also used for machine-to-machine communications (internet of things applications). IT departments across the U.S. are realizing these same issues, as the nearly universal adoption of bring your own device (BYOD) has left companies trying to support and increase connectivity for dozens of models of phones across all four major U.S. carriers.
These issues may be increased by the coming proliferation of 5G. IT departments aren’t stranded, however, as a number of technologies and design principles are being introduced that can alleviate connectivity concerns today and as 5G becomes more common. These include MIMO, modularity and the 600 MHz spectrum.
Multiple-input multiple-output antennas are gaining popularity because each unit increases the information sent and received without requiring additional power. Essentially, MIMO antennas are built into one enclosure, but they can access multiple frequency bands. These are becoming common in both consumer and enterprise settings. On the consumer side, Apple’s latest iPhone incorporates MIMO antennas into its units, which improves each phone’s average connection, as well as improving upload and download speeds. – Forbes