When people talk about connectivity today, they’re talking about silos. These silos are built around either the device they’re using, the location they’re in, or a combination both. When they’re outside, it's going to be cellular. When they’re inside, it's usually Wi-Fi, if they are using a mobile device like a smartphone, tablet or laptop; or Ethernet, if they are connecting a PC (although, of course, many PCs connect using Wi-Fi as well).
Where these signals come from—a cell tower, a fiber optic network, or a run of coaxial cable—and how they work is of little importance to the end user. They just want to get things done. And they’re growing increasingly impatient with proprietary platforms that require them to constantly switch between competing standards and technologies just to get through their day.
Like the PC wars from the 2000s that ended up as a plug-and-play truce centered around USB, HDMI, and Bluetooth, people today are looking for a similar connectivity-focused agreement. They want the freedom to connect without having to switch between signal delivery platforms just because they are inside or outside or on a certain type of device.
With the continuing nationwide buildout of 5G, we believe that the future of indoor connectivity will center on this technology. Not because we are the first to light-up a nationwide 5G network*, but because it just makes sense.
As good as Wi-Fi is, it’s still an island. Once you leave a building with a Wi-Fi only device, not only do you leave behind the physical amenities of that space, you are being forced to break from your digital experiences as well. Once on the outside, you may or may not be able to recreate those experiences. For consumers, this may just be an inconvenience. But for businesspeople, this can be a productivity killer, leading to less-than-optimal experiences for employees and visiting VIPs.
Today, because the in-building cellular penetration rate is low (think single digits), these incongruencies are the accepted norm. Going forward, as 5G becomes ubiquitous and people acclimate to always-on, low-latency mobile broadband, we believe they will come to expect that same experience regardless of where they are.
We saw the same transition with Wi-Fi. It used to just be coffee shops where people went to get connected—and they would pay for the privilege. Today, public Wi-Fi is in many places, it's usually free, and often people just expect it to be there. They take it for granted. But, unlike cellular, you cannot take it with you once you leave.