5G – as it’s being rolled out – won’t transform much of anything

A blog post by Neville Ray, CTO of T-Mobile USA

❝ 5G is at the height of the hype curve right now…and there’s also a lot of misinformation. I’m not going to add to either…And when it’s ready for our customers…in a way that allows us to bring the benefits of 5G to the whole country…We are going to get it right.

I wish I could say the same for the rest of the industry. But with the 5G path the other guys are on – what I’m calling the status quo – we will not see the transformational power this technology has to completely change EVERY industry. And that’s not good enough…

Verizon’s mmWave-only 5G plan is only for the few. And it will never reach rural America. Meanwhile, AT&T has rolled out a “5GE” icon to customers phones to dupe them into thinking their same-old 4G LTE service is something new and different (spoiler alert: it’s not)…

❝ Some of this is physics – millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum has great potential in terms of speed and capacity, but it doesn’t travel far from the cell site and doesn’t penetrate materials at all. It will never materially scale beyond small pockets of 5G hotspots in dense urban environments.

Yes, we’re all being hyped by the buzzwords. Something like “Make America Great Again” for cellphones. RTFA to get a grasp of the questions that haven’t been answered well enough to bring this faster technology to everyone.

And there’s more…

❝ 5G is the “fifth generation” of wireless networks. It will cover a wide range of devices, including both mobile and fixed network infrastructure, i.e. both mobile smartphones, wearables and settled machines will be wireless. So does that mean in future we will need no fiber cables running around?

❝ Beneath the surface of the world’s wireless infrastructure lies a big net interwoven by the fiber optic cables. And at present 90% of all internet traffic travels over wireline fiber, even if it finally terminates in a wireless device. 5G is targeted at a connection speed of 1-10 Gbps, which is ten to hundred times higher than 4G. The overwhelming traffic to data centers will demand a transport media that is capable of high bandwidth and long distance, and fiber is the best future-proof choice among all mediums…

We won’t receiving 5G anything under most circumstances if it wasn’t delivered by fibre-optic cables to be broadcast in the first place.

Personally, my best hope is that cable providers bringing most of us existing broadband access capable of 4K movies and the 5K and 8K to follow…will have the smarts to compete and offer matching speeds at affordable prices. Technically, they can already step up to that standard across a lot of the map. They simply aren’t being pressed by sufficient competition to care to do that. Capitalism 101, 2nd semester.

9 thoughts on “5G – as it’s being rolled out – won’t transform much of anything

  1. Profits Über Alles says:

    Last week, Neil Jacobs, the acting head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Congress that 5G interference could set the accuracy of weather forecasts back 40 years. On Tuesday, CTIA, the trade group representing the U.S. wireless communications industry, unleashed a scathing rebuttal of the Jacobs’ assertion.
    “It’s an absurd claim with no science behind it,” wrote Brad Gillen, CTIA’s executive vice president, in a blog post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/05/23/head-noaa-says-g-deployment-could-set-weather-forecasts-back-years-wireless-industry-denies-it/?utm_term=.00ea80cce066&wpisrc=nl_most&wpmm=1 Testifying before the House Science Committee on May 16, Jacobs told members of Congress that the interference could result in a 30 percent reduction in forecast accuracy. “If you look back in time to see when our forecast skill was roughly 30 percent less than it was today, it’s somewhere around 1980,″ he said.
    With this reduced forecast skill, the European model would not have predicted 2012′s Superstorm Sandy hitting the Northeast coast several days in advance, Jacobs said. Instead, the model would have steered the storm out to sea. Lead time to prepare for the storm would have been cut short.
    Jacobs added that if the data loss from interference reaches even 2 percent, NOAA would likely have to “stop work” on its $11 billion polar-orbiting satellite program, important for not just weather forecasting but also for climate monitoring and many other applications.

  2. Here&Now says:

    We tested 5G speeds around the world. Here’s what we found (CNET July 1, 2019) https://www.cnet.com/features/we-tested-5g-speeds-around-the-world-heres-what-we-found/
    “After years of hearing how 5G is poised to change our lives with lightning-fast phone download speeds, crisp, super high-resolution video calls, AR apps, and real-time gaming pin-sharp and lag-free, 5G is finally real. But it’s far from stable — and stability is the one thing 5G desperately needs.
    On its surface, 5G is about astounding speeds and almost zero latency — the lag time between when your phone pings the network and when it responds. But on a global scale, it represents political dominance and economic might. Nowhere is that point drawn more clearly than in President Donald Trump’s increasing interest in 5G, which so far includes stopping a buyout to keep US chipmaker Qualcomm independent, signing an executive order to ban No. 1 5G infrastructure company Huawei from operating with US companies, and even pushing for 6G upgrades as quickly as possible. (6G doesn’t exist yet.)
    5G networks around the world are sprouting up as pinpricks in cities and neighborhoods, largely acting as hotspots that will give your phone some impressive juice if you’re standing in just the right place with just the right device. But move a block farther, enter a building or hop into a car and that 5G connection is just as likely to revert to 4G. Or the connection might hiccup and lose its grasp on 5G on its own.”

  3. Bait&Switch says:

    “Verizon wants you to pay $650 plus $85 a month for a 5G hotspot : If Verizon charges this much now, just imagine if 5G was widely available.” https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2019/07/verizon-wants-you-to-pay-650-plus-85-a-month-for-a-5g-hotspot/
    “Verizon said hotspot-only plans “start at $85 a month (plus taxes and fees).” Verizon describes the $85-per-month hotspot plan as “unlimited” when you go through the online checkout process. But the fine print states that customers get 50GB of high-speed 5G data, and 5G speeds are reduced to 3Mbps after that. The plan treats 5G and 4G data separately; it provides 15GB of high-speed 4G data and slows users down to 600kbps after that. Verizon allows 4K video streaming on 5G, while limiting video on the 4G network to 720p.
    The carrier noted that the $85 monthly price is “only a $10 increase over 4G LTE service.” But the 5G device’s $650 price is three to four times higher than Verizon’s Jetpack hotspots, and the extra $10 a month provides access to a 5G network that exists only in five cities: Chicago; Denver; Minneapolis; Providence, Rhode Island; and St. Paul, Minnesota. Verizon says it will have 5G service in 30 cities by the end of this year.
    Early reviews of Verizon’s 5G service found spotty coverage, so even in those five cities your 5G hotspot might frequently drop down to 4G. Verizon has said its 5G users “should expect typical download speeds of 450Mbps, with peak speeds of above 1.5Gbps and latency less than 30 milliseconds.”

  4. Gwailo Joe says:

    Chinese cellphone carriers will begin offering super-fast, next-generation 5G service on a commercial basis on Friday, a development that the ruling Communist Party says will unleash a technological revolution. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/showing-that-the-us-wont-hold-it-back-china-launches-commercial-5g-service/2019/10/31/4f2e64da-fb16-11e9-9e02-1d45cb3dfa8f_story.html China’s three state-owned wireless carriers — China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom — on Thursday unveiled 5G subscription packages available starting Friday.
    They will charge by speed rather than data used. To enjoy the peak speed of 1 Gbps, Unicom customers will pay about $45 a month.
    About 13,000 base stations that enable the 5G network have been installed in the capital, the Beijing communications administration said this week, and 10,000 are already operating.
    The central government wants 5G coverage extended to cover all of Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Guangzhou by the end of the year. The country’s largest carrier, China Mobile, which has 900 million cellphone subscribers, says it will be able to offer 5G services in more than 50 cities this year.
    China is forecast to spend between $130 billion and $217 billion on 5G between 2020 and 2025, according to a study by the state-run China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.

  5. Monetization says:

    “The Department of Defense has weighed in against a proposal before the Federal Communications Commission to open the 1 to 2 Gigahertz frequency range—the L band—for use in 5G cellular networks. The reason: segments of that range of radio spectrum are already used by Global Positioning System signals and other military systems.
    In a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper pressed for the rejection of the proposal by Ligado Networks (formerly known as LightSquared), saying, “There are too many unknowns and the risks are far too great to federal operations to allow Ligado’s proposed system to proceed… This could have a significant negative impact on military operations, both in peacetime and war.”
    The FCC has already largely brushed aside similar opposition from NASA, the US Navy, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, among others, over another spectrum block in the 24GHz range—which is used by weather satellites for remote monitoring of water vapor.” https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/11/dod-joins-fight-against-5g-spectrum-proposal-citing-risks-to-gps/
    See also “At launch, AT&T’s real 5G will only be as fast as its fake 5G : 5G on low-band spectrum will be similar to LTE-Advanced until further upgrades.” https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2019/11/at-launch-atts-real-5g-will-only-be-as-fast-as-its-fake-5g/

  6. Moloch says:

    Weather forecasters pushing for strict limits on 5G’s rapidly growing footprint were dealt a blow today by the World Radiocommunication Conference in Egypt. Delegates there voted to create a new international standard that places much looser limits on interference from 5G operating in a specific radio frequency that’s crucial to accurate weather forecasting. Meteorology experts worry that this decision could one day seriously impact their ability to forecast severe storms, leaving communities around the world vulnerable to extreme weather events. https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/22/20975652/weather-forecast-interference-limits-5g-egypt-conference-radio-frequency
    After the ruling in Egypt today, “there is no solution,” Eric Allaix, chair of the World Meteorological Organization’s Steering Group on Radio Frequency Coordination, tells The Verge. Although the buildout of 5G is still in the works, once it replaces the current generation of mobile broadband, Allaix says, “We will not be able at that time to make the distinction between the observation of the earth and atmospheric radiation, and the interference coming from 5G.”

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