What is 5G and why is it bad now?

After the introduction of Consumer Electronics Association Chairman Gary Shapiro, Verizon CEO Hans Bestberg will be on stage. He begins his keynote in a simple black T-shirt with an unmistakable red check. The topic at hand is 5G, which Vestberg is enthusiastic about. The keynote will cover the eight “currencies” of 5G, highlight professional athletes, and highlight how 5G will transform the drone industry.

It was CES 2019. It was also CES 2021. Verizon isn’t the only one to fuel 5G hype machines. AT & T and T-Mobile have been discussing 5G networks for years. Now it’s time to go live. With the major flagship mobile phones and the more low-priced devices that support them, this year will be a year for a significant number of mobile phone buyers to see for themselves what the story is about.

Here’s the bad news. They would be disappointed if they listened to the hype. We have promised a fourth Industrial Revolution with great things like remote surgery and self-driving cars. Instead, the current prevailing 5G is about the same (or slower) speed as 4G, and is ultra-fast millimeter-wave 5G. A few Parts of A few Major cities with very limited scope. So where is the future of this 5G we promised? The truth is that it’s going, but it’s slower and less obvious than we believe. It will be realized.

Spectrum war

To understand the complex 5G situation in the United States today, we first need to know that there are low, medium, and high band frequencies available to carriers. The low band is slow but covers a wide area. The high band, often referred to as millimeter waves, is very fast, but has a very limited range. The midband is located in the sweet spot between the two, with good range and better speed than LTE.

If you are building a 5G network from scratch, you will probably need a lot of midband spectra. The problem is that the spectrum is a limited resource. Sasha Segan, Chief Mobile Analyst PCMag And a wealth of 5G knowledge summarizes some of the spectral problems.

“Our government didn’t provide the right channels for carriers,” he says. “Verizon and AT & T are basically using the remaining odds and ends of the 4G spectrum … Place 5G encoding on these remaining bits and bobs to allow 5G icons to pop on the screen. And performance is meaningless. ”

The technology used by Verizon and AT & T to achieve national 5G coverage is called Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), which allows 4G and 5G to coexist on the same spectrum. This helps operators move from one technology to another, but at a cost. Michael Thelander, President and Founder of Wireless Industry Research Company Signal Research Group, Summarized as follows. “It’s like having a super-fast sports car and getting stuck on the Santa Monica highway. You can’t experience all the features.”

T-Mobile, on the other hand, doesn’t have to rely on spectrum sharing as much as the other two, thanks to Sprint’s acquisition and its mid-band spectrum. This gives them an edge over traditional 5G services.

However, by early 2022, Verizon and AT & T are likely to catch up. A series of mid-band spectra called the C-band was auctioned in late 2020. We don’t know which company won which spectrum block, but we know that these two carriers in particular have spent a lot of Over $ 80 billion..

What will happen next?

The network is not yet booted on all cylinders, but more and more mobile devices support them. In fact, by the end of the year, it can be harder to find a non-5G phone than one that supports this technology. Apple and Samsung’s flagship handsets not only support 5G throughout their lineup, but are also expanding into more midrange and lower cost devices thanks to new 5G-enabled low-end processors such as: Qualcomm Snapdragon 480..

More people will buy 5G mobile phones this year than ever before. Perhaps not because they really wanted 5G, but because the phones they plan to get support it. The good news is that when it’s time to upgrade, there’s nothing wrong with buying a 5G cell phone now. The “5G tax” that has been putting high price tags on 5G cell phones over the last two years is disappearing. Seems like, our tests didn’t notice any other drawbacks such as excessive battery consumption.

The iPhone 12 series includes 5G connectivity throughout the lineup.
Photo: Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

So how have people who bought the iPhone 12 been reacting so far because it’s a new iPhone, not 5G? “They are frustrated and angry,” says Seagan. “In both Verizon and AT & T, their national 5G is often slower than 4G because of what I call technical difficulties. That’s why people are getting these iPhones and pre-5G. Performance is often slower than that. ”The“ technical difficulties ”he mentioned include DSS for Verizon and the narrow 5MHz band limitation that AT & T often uses for 5G.

That’s not great. But some factors will make a difference over the next year. First, its C-band spectrum will start online around the end of the year. Good news if you’re dissatisfied with the owner of your iPhone 12 or Galaxy S21. Your phone is already approved for C-band, so if you’re using Verizon or AT & T, you should see faster speeds. ..

However, not all 5G phones support the C band. A software update is required to use it. Also, there is no guarantee that your mobile phone manufacturer will provide software updates. In particular, cheaper 5G models may not show C-band updates, even with supported hardware. Phone makers must apply for Federal Communications Commission approval to enable this, and for short-lived phones, the cost of this procedure is less likely to be annoying.

Another factor is that it is likely to occur sooner than the C band becomes available. It’s a large gathering. At that time, Segan thought that Verizon’s Ultra Wideband would really shine. “I think people will be desperate when we get vaccinated … because of all these crowded, crowded, communal experiences we have lost over the last year and a half. That’s why Verizon needs to be working on applications and experiences that can only be done in the ultra-wideband, like what it did in the Super Bowl and what it’s trying to do in Disney World. ”

Again, this depends on the 5G phone that supports the proper response. type 5G — Not all 5G phones support mmWave. This is the case with the iPhone and Samsung flagship products mentioned above, and the other Verizon models it supports are labeled “UW”.

Where are our jetpacks?

And what about CES keynotes such as remote surgery and self-driving cars? It’s on the way, but it takes time. Thelander explains: “The first focus of 5G was actually a feature called“ enhanced mobile broadband ”. This only brings high data speeds to consumers on smartphones. Factory automation and the features behind it were actually developed afterwards, so they are lagging behind in terms of standardization. ”

TCL 10 5G UW

The first focus of 5G was to improve consumer mobile data speed.
Photo by Cameron Falkner / The Verge

Organizing some of the technology is only half the equation. “Once you define a particular feature in the standard, vendors need to develop it, test it, and get it adopted by the industry,” says Thelander. “Technology may exist, standards may exist, it may work well, but it needs to be implemented and deployed, and we need to have a business case for it. How do you make money from it? All these types of things just take time. “

The network is always “Achieve 5G missionsThe banner has been seen in the past year, but 5G is still an ongoing work. The situation will improve, but how quickly it happens depends on many factors. The phone you are using and the bands it supports, the network you are using, where you are, what you are doing, and so on.It seems clear now It was never “Race to 5G” — Technological progress, as always, is often slow, confusing, and uneven. It’s a little difficult to market in keynotes and commercials.

What is 5G and why is it bad now?

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