Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Will Rooftop Antennas Become More Important in the Era of 5G?

What if 5G actually brings OTA radio back into U.S. homes?

LOS ANGELES � When I was a kid, rooftop TV antennas were common in my neighborhood. Having cable TV was considered an unnecessary expense � at least until the early 1980s, when more and more programming options came in to being.

That 30+ year trend seems to have gone in reverse, though. In 2017, 22.2 million U.S. adults �cut the cord� on pay TV services, like cable or satellite, in favor of online streaming or over-the-air TV. That�s a 33% jump from the 16.7 million who left in 2016, according to The incoming wave of �cord nevers,� composed primarily of millennials, who have never paid for TV, estimated at 34.4 million.

With the coming of 5G, there�s even more reason to believe that rooftop antennas are going to be seen more and more.

�It�s widely expected that fixed wireless access will figure prominently in service provider network-upgrade plans as the world moves toward gigabit throughput and new 5G services,� according to �A crowded field of outdoor wireless equipment vendors targeting discrete high-bandwidth point-to-point or -multipoint applications offers plenty of evidence that achieving high performance and low cost in radio links that have clear, interference-free line of sight �between endpoints is now a straightforward product engineering and network implementation task. The introduction of obstructions such as buildings, trees, passing vehicles, and terrain features in the line of sight for a desired fixed access connection, however, creates many signal-quality and performance issues for conventional radios.

�In fact,�that the advice of most experienced outdoor radio engineers to date has been simple: don�t even try without LoS.�

One wonders then if a new type of outdoor antenna configuration, made up of multiple elements, will make an appearance soon. Just think � multiple elements covering the FM band, the TV band and 5G could make up a new �array� on the roofs of houses and apartment buildings everywhere. How ironic it would be if the coming of 5G actually brought over-the-air radio back into the home.�