Watch Out for 5G Pretenders

Look out! Here come the 5G pretenders!

Dan Jones, Mobile Editor

December 10, 2015

2 Min Read
Watch Out for 5G Pretenders

There's one striking thing about the Verizon's CEO statement that the operator's initial 5G service will offer maximum download speeds of a gigabit a second over the air. This is exactly the same maximum download speed initially called for in the original 4G specification!

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) CEO Lowell McAdams said Wednesday that the operator will start initial 5G deployments in select US cities in 2017. He also said that maximum download speeds will be 1 Gbit/s. (See Verizon CEO: US Commercial 5G Starts in 2017.)

Let's leave aside for the moment that the 2017 deadline doesn't appear to be very realistic. The technology specifications that underpin 5G are still being hashed out by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and other industry bodies.

Instead let's focus on the question of whether we are going to let operators market whatever sort of decently fast wireless broadband technology they feel like as "5G."

Lest we forget, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) originally defined 4G as a wireless specification that should deliver 1 Gbit/s when the user is stationary, and 100 Mbit/s when a person is on the move. The body backed away from that and acquiesced to market pressure when carriers started to sell upgraded 3G networks as "4G." (See ITU Backtracks on '4G' Definition.)

At the time, I coined the term "fauxG" to describe this weaselly marketing tactic. (See The Battle of FauxG.)

Well, a few short years later, and here we are again!

McAdam's promise of a gigabit download for 5G is nowhere close to the ITU's requirements for 5G, which were set out this summer. The body is expecting "IMT-2020" (5G) networks to offer download speeds of 20 Gbit/s. (See ITU Unveils Its 5G Roadmap.)

What McAdam appears to be promising for Verizon's initial "5G" networks is a back-to-the-future style offering that tracks the original maximum download speeds that should been offered over 4G networks! (Accepting -- of course -- that wireless is a shared medium and you're unlikely to get maximum speeds on a crowded network.)

So what do you think? Can we come up with a snappy name for the early 5G pretenders that are bound to arrive as the technology gets closer?

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Dan Jones

Mobile Editor

Dan is to hats what Will.I.Am is to ridiculous eyewear. Fedora, trilby, tam-o-shanter -- all have graced the Jones pate during his career as the go-to purveyor of mobile essentials.

But hey, Dan is so much more than 4G maps and state-of-the-art headgear. Before joining the Light Reading team in 2002 he was an award-winning cult hit on Broadway (with four 'Toni' awards, two 'Emma' gongs and a 'Brian' to his name) with his one-man show, "Dan Sings the Show Tunes."

His perfectly crafted blogs, falling under the "Jonestown" banner, have been compared to the works of Chekhov. But only by Dan.

He lives in Brooklyn with cats.

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