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5G Hype is Premature. Dude, Where's My 4G?

May 4, 2016

 

I get ready in earshot of the TV every morning and I would bleed to death popping in and out of the bathroom to hear a "BREAKING NEWS" bulletin were it not for Gillette adding a fifth blade to its razor.  The breaking news turns out to be nothing 98% of the time, but I'm sucked in anyway. 

 

In a like manner, I keep getting drawn into reading posts about 5G. I don't want to miss anything and so I keep clicking and reading... clicking and reading. I'm Homer Simpson touching the hot stove, over and over, because I'm reading about nothing. 5G isn't even a spec yet, and before that comes together a whole lot of people and international governing bodies will need to agree on it. 

 

But don't get me wrong, I'm not trashing 5G. Hell, I want 5G too. I'm already thinking about 6G and 7G. I know they're coming, just as I sensed that Gillette was going from two blades to three, and then to four and then... well, the fifth blade was a total surprise. 

 

What I know about 5G is this. The spec is in total flux

and we're all expecting a rollout around 2020.

 

5G is so far from being born that its parents - yet unknown to each other, are still years from "hooking up."  All we have is a set of predictable outcomes: "5G will be FAST." "5G will enable the IoT." "5G will be more spectrally efficient." "5G will have lower latency." (OMG, 5G is going to be amazing!!!) 

 

Nonetheless, CEOs assure investors that they're "getting ready for 5G." Others talk about "the 5G rollout" though no one knows what that might consist of. Pundits go back and forth about what 5G will look like. About all I can say to those giving a talk on 5G is, use "order of magnitude," because it sounds awesome. There are already 208,000 Google references for "5G" and "order of magnitude."

 

What will 5G look like? 

 

I think the only safe guess is that it's not going to be anything like 4G. Whole new radio technologies will be employed; ones that are still in the proving stages, and then of course there's politics and practical considerations for carriers with more huge investments to make in infrastructure. By the time these things shake out today's high school seniors will have graduated college already, and we'll be picking our next president after surviving the present election cycle.

 

But can we get more excited about building out more 4G? 

 

It may not be sexy anymore, but I'd love to get 4G service wherever I'm in the good old U.S. of A. Sometimes I think there are caves in Pakistan with better cell service than what I have at home, just outside of Boston. What's going on with 4G deployment? Are major carriers deploying enough radios to keep up with needs until 5G comes along, or are they idling relative to the ever growing demand? 

 

The microwave radio business could really use a boost about now. I'd like to see the skies clouded with cranes hoisting up new wireless dishes like a building boom in south Florida. Radio vendors, systems integrators, tower companies, and so many others, could gain immensely by an upturn in business these days, and likewise consumers could use more bandwidth.

 

 

 

 

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