Anyone who watches TV with an antenna, no cable or satellite, must rescan their televisions over the next couple of months.
Six area TV stations have switched frequencies to make room in the airwaves for nascent 5G network upgrades and other mobile broadband services, the Federal Communications Commission announced Wednesday.
“We have to get ready, basically,” said Jean Kiddoo, chair of the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force. “We are always looking to make sure we’re using airwaves as efficiently and as effectively as we can. We know 5G is coming. We also know that even without 5G, consumers are demanding more and more capacity — more and more speed.”
These local channels changed their frequencies between June 22 and Aug. 2:
WQPX-TV, Channel 32
WYLN-TV, Channel 35
W47AO-D, Channel 36
Mobile carriers, for example Verizon, AT&T and Sprint, have been slowly rolling out 5G, or fifth generation, networks in major markets, think New York City, Houston and Los Angeles.
Just this week, T-Mobile announced it would start selling high-priced the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G (starts at $1,300), which is one of a few phones on the market now that can tap into the network.
As more tools, for example equipment used in health care, shipping and manufacturing, move toward automation and rely on wireless broadband to communicate, they’ll be sending significantly more data over the airwaves. 5G delivers speeds that can handle the data load — carriers promise they’re 10 to 50 times faster than current 4G LTE networks.
While 5G speeds are unlikely to appear in Northeast Pennsylvania any time soon, one thing seems certain — when one carrier brings 5G to the region, others won’t be far behind, said Greg Kopa, co-founder and chief executive at SWG, a Jessup firm that sells and services wireless broadband equipment to a global client portfolio.
Customers want faster speeds when using mobile devices, and the companies first to the table with 5G have a better chance at keeping current clients and luring more, he said.
“More people are using mobile devices than ever before,” he said. “So the carrier that can get you that connection quicker than somebody else is going to retain their customer base more than the next player.”