back to article Anyone for Virtual Monkey Tennis? Telco tries to sell us on 5G

Two "gigabit" phones are being shown off at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week. The name comes from their ability to download data at speeds of 1Gbps – or near enough – which is a halfway house from today's LTE to whenever's 5G. ZTE's demo unit was a testbed that showed real download speeds, while Sony's flagship …

  1. James 51

    Improved coverage. Perhaps the technology won't reacher further from the base stations but hopefully operators will put up more masts rather than just updating the ones they have.

    That pipe dream aside there's a race to idle arguement. 5G will use more power but if it's fast enough it may use less power overall. Who doesn't like better battery life?

    At the moment battery technology is a bigger problem than data speeds for handsets. We need phones that can last at least 24hrs even if you're using them. Of course more efficient cpus and screens would help with that goal too.

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Boffin

      Improved coverage and speed

      No new spec gives either of those, only a change in licence conditions forcing operators to treble or x10 the number of base-stations. Also a SINGLE wholesale RAN for all bands would instantly give x2 to x4 improvement in speed/capacity.

      The issue is ROI, the profit vs cost of more basestations. Unless there is a different charging model, adding coverage adds too few extra customers and adding speed/capacity adds almost no extra customers and almost no extra revenue per customer.

      The 5G doesn't change physics or economics. The newer high speed bands will only work on femto cells fed by fibre, near line of sight, maybe reliably only 100m at high speed.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "That pipe dream aside there's a race to idle arguement. 5G will use more power but if it's fast enough it may use less power overall. Who doesn't like better battery life?"

      That would violate some of Newton's laws, no?

      1. The Mole

        No, the systems aren't 100% efficient to begin with. If you only need to spend 50% of the time to send the same amount of power, but if sending uses 10% more power, then in total you are only using 55% of the power than you were before.

  2. TonyJ

    And what's the point until the operators offer decent data linits? Here's a gig download speed...enjoy your 500MB limit...

    1. Baldrickk

      What's the point

      Absolutely none.

      I avoid watching videos over 4G even now I have 6GB of data a month (and the occasional 1GB free bonus) because I know I can blow through that with ease.

      So video is out. Phones are terrible for any sort of intensive gaming... what else needs that speed, really?

    2. pip25
      FAIL

      My thoughts exactly

      The carriers are so busy touting the speeds of their network that they somehow seem to forget about the fact that in many countries data caps are still insane, with little to no improvement in the past decade or so.

      In Hungary for instance, you can't watch videos or use Skype on a mobile connection, period. Not because you don't have the bandwidth, but because you'll burn through your expensive 1-2 GBs of data so fast that you can barely blink.

      And to think that they're talking about 4K video... sheesh...

  3. Lars Johansson
    Meh

    It's 2017, where's my provider transparent HD voice calls!?

    Until I can get hardware vendor and network provider transparent HD voice calls on my phone, I'm not upgrading...

  4. The Mole

    Home broadband

    I totally agree those speeds have little benefit in a mobile phone. In a dongle/homehub however allowing you to stream 8k video to our 50 inch tv is a compelling use case, particularly for those people who currently live at the far end of some damp string. Of course you'd use your monthly data allowance within a couple of minutes but ignoring that it is probably cheaper to roll out than fibre to the premises (or even to the cabinet) particularly if you convince people to drop having a real phoneline (perhaps having a virtual one connected to the homehub to bridge the gap).

  5. Flywheel Silver badge

    Price Plans

    What's that sir, you've used your monthly data allocation in 20 minutes? Why not splurge on an addd-on pack for only £10 a gigabyte? Ker-ching!

    1. d3vy

      Re: Price Plans

      £10 a GB?

      They charge more than that now... Can't see them dropping their prices.

  6. larokus

    In the great white north, better known as kanada.

    Live in the woods.

    I'm (and given the alternative, genuinely feel) "lucky" to have WiMax here for home internet. It's an obscure and mostly forgotten, almost ancient wireless technology that no longer has any relevance almost anywhere else globally. It came as an alternative a few G's ago, and was being touted as being better than the next G, but of course, wasn't. Save for, it has quite good signal penetration, which, in my case, is good, since I'm occasionally shrouded by trees and snow.

    The caveat: capped at 5 Mbps. Imagine your entire life, capped at 5. Media. Video. Games. Everything.

    At this point, I'd pay $200 a month for "5G" or "Gigabit LTE"

    I can only hope one of the wireless players will answer my prayers.

    This might put me in unpopular company, but before you hit that little downvote, send me your bandwidth.

  7. d3vy

    The only reason I can see for this at the moment would be to replace my home broadband, so it wouldn't be a phone.. it would need some mifi like device..

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No point having this in phones

    Oh, we will of course have it in phones once it is deployed in large enough numbers, but its main impact will be for home broadband, especially in areas where decent wired broadband hasn't arrived.

    Before someone objects about data limits, they'll sell the home broadband on different plans (i.e. you won't be able to put the SIM in your phone) that will have much higher caps.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: No point having this in phones

      It will have no significant impact on home broadband, because the really high speed/capacity bands are really only line of sight.

      For a street full of 4K TVs you need fibre to at least the street. Within 200m of the home router, if not to the home.

      The 5G will have almost no impact on coverage, capacity or speed outside an open plan office femto cell (fed by fibre).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No point having this in phones

        You don't need the ultra high frequency bands to max out at insane speeds. Using more reasonable bands like 3.5 GHz should be ideal, as the antenna can be sited where it has the best reception on the outside of the house, won't move, and isn't restricted to the form factor of a cell phone.

        In rural areas you don't have "a street full of 4K TVs", and even assuming 4K takes off the way HD did (which is by no way assured) it isn't that much bandwidth. Netflix is using 15.6 Mbps for 4K, EU satellite companies seem to be using 18 Mbps, Directv in the US is the outlier using 30 Mbps. Even if you had a family of five all streaming a different 4K program on Netflix a 100 Mbps connection would be sufficient.

        In built up areas you wouldn't have much need for this, since it would have to be fed by fiber anyway. If you've got that fiber, you can use DOCSIS 3 or G.fast over existing copper from a small cabinet every few blocks. But if you have utility poles, nothing stops you a providing from sticking a tiny lower power 5G antenna on one every block or two, and siting antennas on the houses so they have line of sight.

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