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5G and Beyond

Apple Quietly Hiring for 5G?

Apple hasn't been very vocal about its plans to support future 5G wireless technology yet, but that doesn't mean that it isn't getting ready for a faster mobile future.

5G is the fifth-generation wireless specification that is expected to deliver data speeds up to 100 times faster than today's 4G networks. The technology behind 5G could also help to make self-driving cars, consumer robotics and much more a reality. (See 5G: As Close as You'll Get to a Jet Pack!)

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) joined the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Ltd. for 5G development but hasn't said much about 5G publicly. That isn't too surprising. 5G testing is starting this year, with functional trial networks expected in 2018, and widespread deployment in 2020 and beyond. Apple, as a handset provider, doesn't need to be on the very cutting edge of network testing. (see SK Telecom Claims 5G Trial Milestone.)

The vendor, however, does appear to be starting to get ready for 5G. Much of how faster speeds are achieved in 5G will be through advanced radio and antenna technology. (See FCC's Wheeler: Go High for 5G, 600MHz Switch Will Be Slow.)

Apple is currently advertising for a wireless engineer who can design radio hardware prototypes and simulations "using existing or emerging wireless technologies." The Cupertino company is looking for someone who is familiar with "RF propagation, antenna theory, beam-forming theory, radar signal processing."

Multiple input and output (MIMO) antenna arrays and steering radio signals (beam-forming) are already being used to a degree in LTE, although they will be part of the baseline of 5G networks.

The reference to "radar signal processing," however, suggests that Apple may be looking beyond LTE. Much -- but not all -- of the radar used today is deployed in high-frequency bands from 3GHz to 300GHz. These centimeter and millimeter bands are also going to be used for 5G.

So, while Apple may be largely silent on 5G for now, it appears to be getting ready for a faster mobile future. (See Google Searching for 5G Wireless Engineer.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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