CES 2019: The Phony 5G Wars

Recapping the annual tech-fest in Las Vegas, Light Reading's Dan Jones, Mike Dano and Jeff Baumgartner discuss the clash between major mobile operators over what is -- and isn't -- true 5G, and provide an update on what cable has in store for the industry's big "10G" initiative.
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Clifton K Morris
Clifton K Morris,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/11/2019 | 2:08:40 PM
This is reminiscent of the days when Sprint launched ď3GĒ services; commonly referred to at the time as ďWireless WebĒ. Wireless Web was a phone with a WAP-based browser that also relied on a circuit-switched connection. Sprint advertised the service as web ability on a cell phone, but it actually called a phone number in the background and established a connection similar to a modem or fax machine. On the back-end, Sprint zero-rated these phone calls so customers were not deducted minutes of use.

True 2.5G (as per the GSMA/ITU standard) implemented packet-based networks which CDMA and Sprintís network didnít support. But that technological shortcoming didnít stop Sprint from selling it based on functionality.

Today, absent a NIST recognized standard for communications, itís best to stay true to recognized standards from GSMA/3GPP rather than marketing. The ď5GĒ standard hasnít been ratified by 3GPP yet. Itís core add-on is supposed to increase QAM spectral efficiencies from a symbolrate of 256 to 1024. This may be available as a software upgrade if the DSP (Digital Signal Processors) in the 4.75G Wireless network hardware allows. In a worst-case, it may require a card upgrade or new antenna. Today, this is truly minimal effort now that Crown Castle and American Tower manage most of the infrastructure and mantainence.

Also, the licenses for millimeter wave are so large, the licenses should allow carriers to offer and advertise rateplans that offer a plan with unlimited service that competes toe-to-toe with with twisted-pair copper.