5G, poised to disappoint

5G is a lot of hype, backed by some really good tech. It’s a significantly faster / lower latency connection capable of multi gigabit speeds that will still have to go over the overloaded internet backbone of most carriers and then into the vast wasteland of cheap internet connections. Marketing is selling it like it’s the solution to alllll your problems. It’s not.

5G logo

5G comes in two main parts, a millimeter wave tech capable of speeds up to insanity, and the 600mhz spectrum capable of great distances and … 4G speeds? One is fast and short range, one is pretty fast (25% faster than LTE,) and long range, neither of them solved your issues did they Karen?

Basically it’s about 10x the speed from the tower to your phone. Please note this speed is from the TOWER to your PHONE and not 10x the speed.

To pay for this speed increase between you and the tower, plenty of carriers are floating plans to raise rates. And to make things suck, they’re probably still going to throttle the video you’re streaming because they do that sort of thing and will probably continue.

Let’s look at your current 4G connection

The main issue for most of the country with 4G LTE is lack of towers and backbone bandwidth. Now in some areas there are plenty of towers but the number of phones kill it. These people will benefit with 5G’s congestion busting abilities, but for the rest, the playbook from 10 years ago or so will probably play out again.

That is, get a 5G phone for a couple hundred more than 4G phones, fall back to 4G LTE because there’s little support deployed, get annoyed at carrier’s claims of 5G coverage that aren’t where you’re at, wait wait wait.

After the 5G coverage is there you’re going to find the phone to tower congestion gone, but the internet will still be the internet, and that’s a bunch of sites and services that these gigabit download speeds are going to manage to pull maybe 130mbit speeds from.

5G towers with a slow connection to the internet will function no differently than a 4G tower with a slow internet connection, or a 3G, etc. The slowest data route will take your gigabit mmW connection and turn it into the experience you currently have.

Wonder what would have happened if these companies had deployed enough 4G towers with decent multi-gig backbone connections? Probably they wouldn’t have to jump on the 5G advertising bandwagon.

What should we take away?

As with everything, don’t believe the hype. The weakest link in the chain (which will initially be coverage, and backbone internet speeds as coverage ups,) will be the thing that hobbles it. It won’t be here in a decent way for a long time and chances are it will bite a big suck biscuit at first.

Or I’m wrong and it’s the second coming… unfortunately I feel like we’re poised to be on the second coming of WiMax and if they’d actually deployed 4G LTE correctly we’d have the crazy VR future they’re trying to sell.

Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Google+ | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts