back to article £160m ploughed into 5G is a fair sum. Shame the tech doesn't really exist

Going by last week's Budget, it looks like the only ones still drinking the 5G Kool-Aid are senior politicians. Perhaps they think it will make them look visionary. Insiders have told The Register that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is more concerned with spending the money set aside for a technology that does not …

  1. Disgruntled of TW
    FAIL

    3G still hasn't delivered ...

    ... utterly nonplussed by the 5G hype, and unsurprising that DCMS folk talk such verbiage. They just don't understand. It's why we are so disillusioned with politicians.

  2. Mage Silver badge
    Boffin

    Oh dear

    The "5G" isn't really about any new way for ordinary bases to talk to mobiles, like 2G, 3G and 4G were. It's about integration of services, back office processing and backhaul.

    Also spectrum above 2.6GHz is really only "WiFi" or Line of Sight.

    The way to avoid not spots is licence conditions requiring 100% geographic coverage. No new technology needed. Otherwise operator cherry pick where to put bases so as to make a profit on the capital investment and running costs. Rural has higher running costs due to engineering travel time and backhaul costs.

    This is also why performance can be poor. Not technology. There is no incentive to have x3 or x9 density base stations needed to increase speed and availability unless data is charged per megabyte used. With capped or unlimited subscription or PAYG, the only way you get speed past a certain point is enforced licence conditions.

    There needs to be more fibre / real broadband so that Mobile only has actually mobile users.

    1. Adam Jarvis

      The only way you'd get 100% coverage of 5G, is 100% coverage of full fibre FTTP throughout the UK

      The only way you'd get ubiquitous 100% coverage of 5G, is (pretty much) ubiquitous 100% coverage of full fibre blanket ultrafast FTTP throughout the UK, due to the much smaller 5G cell coverage and the fact that at these frequencies, 5G signals don't penetrate buildings/metalized glass/insulation well (used extensively in modern buildings).

      For 5G to remain cheap with the best coverage (future smaller 5G cells from streetlights etc) it will need to 'piggyback' dark fibre laid during public sector contracts like that just announced to connect Aberdeen's public buildings to full fibre.

      Let's get clever here. Play BT at it's own game.

      The City of Aberdeen could be clever here RIGHT NOW and stipulate changes to those contracts so they have long-term overall control over any additional dark fibre that is laid as part of this public funded contract, taking that ownership/control away from BT (assuming they carry out the contract).

      The public sector needs to own and control this additional dark fibre, instead of leaving BT to control/delegate it's future use if we (the public) are paying to install it, as part of public sector rollout contracts.

      5G is absolutely dependent on full fibre, deep into the UK network.

      How are we going to ever achieve this now that the biggest operator BT/EE fixed/mobile data speeds are intrinsically linked, going forward, in truth, BT will be quite happy sitting on their hands, ignoring 5G, running EE as it is, with some 'cherry picked' G.fast to add to the fixed line mix, keeping everything else on their bamboozled, obfuscated copper carcass "up to" network.

      It's plainly clear that BT and EE do not operate in distinct markets, they are intrinsically linked. 5G and full fibre fixed networks are reliant on one another.

      But, the CMA stated BT and EE did operate in distinct markets as the basis of the allowing this merger. The utterly stupid decision by the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority), by technically incompetent folk that didn't understand the subtle technical issues here between future 5G mobile/fibre backhaul to connect those 5G cells.

      And when Weasels Ofcom deliberately obfuscate this fibre optic backhaul requirement too, when they talk up the 5G spectrum auctions, what hope do we have?

      I repeat, where is all this fibre backhaul Ofcom for 5G Bandwidth?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The only way you'd get 100% coverage of 5G, is

        The City of Aberdeen could be clever here RIGHT NOW and ......taking that ownership/control away from BT

        Worked so well in Hull, eh? Bugger all competition and higher prices, the usual jam tomorrow promises about FTTP.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The only way you'd get 100% coverage of 5G, is

          The City of Aberdeen could be clever here..

          Haaahhhhaaaaahhahahahaahahahahahaa

          Sincerely,

          A resident

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The only way you'd get 100% coverage of 5G, is

          "Worked so well in Hull, eh? Bugger all competition and higher prices, the usual jam tomorrow promises about FTTP."

          You might want to talk to one of the more vociferous quality-focused ISPs about how well "competition" has served the needs of the wholesale connectivity buyer. AAISP, for example, seem to be finding that the shine (careful) is wearing off TalkTalk's ISP-centric product range. BT's wholesale products have never had much shine, and now they're absolutely full of shi*e.

          Or for FTTP, competition has brought the UK (and Australia) the comedy ISP family FibreCity/CityFibre and assorted relations.

          I haven't got all day, so I'll just note that competition on its own delivers nothing (just ask people waiting for Yodel/Hermes/etc).

          Competence has to count for something.

          Joined up thinking might count for something too. Smartmeters (if they were ever going to be viable) would have worked better with something approaching 100% mobile internet coverage. So why not connect the two and share the costs and the benefits. No, corporate competition doesn't allow that.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The only way you'd get 100% coverage of 5G

        G.Fast will not be used for 5G. Broadband is *not* an infrastructure product.

        1. Adam Jarvis

          Re: The only way you'd get 100% coverage of 5G

          I never said G.fast would be used for 5G.

          Actual Fibre backhaul in the local loop could be used to piggyback 5G, in terms of full fibre residential/business FTTP rollout. Just because the mobile operator has a commercial contract with BTWholesale for a Fibre backhaul for its Cell, doesn't mean it can't be the same backhaul feeding residential/business premises in the local loop.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The only way you'd get 100% coverage of 5G

            "Just because the mobile operator has a commercial contract with BTWholesale for a Fibre backhaul for its Cell, doesn't mean it can't be the same backhaul feeding residential/business premises in the local loop."

            Broadband networks are built to different performance characteristics than infrastructure ones. They go to different places. I'd be seriously annoyed to find my infrastructure backhaul sharing network space with broadband customers. I pay more because I need a better service. Zero packet loss, five nines uptime, three hour repair guarantee.

            Your vision sees businesses requiring high performance networks being unable to have them, or it requires people needing a consumer product to pay ten times what they do today. Which is it?

      3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: only way you'd get 100% coverage of 5G, is 100% coverage of full fibre FTTP throughout the UK

        Whatever the issues with 5G and fibre are, public ownership of the infrastructure is not the solution.

        At this early a stage in the technology there's no reason for public subsidies either, if the telcos think they can make money out of it later let them finance the blue-sky research aspects.

        1. Adam Jarvis

          Re: only way you'd get 100% coverage of 5G, is 100% coverage of full fibre FTTP throughout the UK

          Aberdeen City should have a clause in the contract in relation to any dark fibre laid at the same time as the contract is carried out, that those dark fibres are treated as future 'public infrastructre', so Aberdeen City have ultimate say so on it's future use (and can rent it out to competing companies to BT, because (as taxpayers) we're funding this rollout of this dark fibre, BT aren't.

          Yet without such a clause, BT control those dark fibres as though they are their 'own' dark fibres, when BT haven't paid anything near the full costs in order to lay them, taxpayers have.

    2. Commswonk

      Re: Oh dear

      @ Mage: There needs to be more fibre / real broadband so that Mobile only has actually mobile users.

      I don't think it's that simple. AIUI consumers are using mobile broadband to avoid having to fork out for fixed line services, and that avoidance includes fixed line telephony. The argument seems to be "I need (want?) a fully featured broadband capable mobile phone anyway, so why do I also need a fixed line service?"

      I strongly doubt if flood - wiring the UK with FTTP will persuade users to pay for fixed line services as well as mobile ones. An increase in "real broadband" cannot act as a replacement for mobile telephony (inc text messages) however good that broadband is, and people are so wedded to their fondleslabs that persuading them to put them aside is likely to prove a waste of time.

      The fact that their broadband usage is perhaps largely trivial doesn't seem to come into it. A fixation with social media and ordering things they don't need probably covers most of the actual use for a large percentage of users.

  3. Piro Silver badge

    I don't get the 4G hype, let alone the "5G" hype.

    3G was slow to start with, but the final form of HSPA+ can be very fast.

    100% coverage would more interesting..

    1. marky_boi
      Facepalm

      You don't get 4 Hype?

      Here in Australia, we have already turned off GSM and rapidly moving to 4G ubiquity. 4G gives you VOIP calls in HD, [quite noticable] faster setups to ring on the other end. Stonking quick internet with good upload speeds. In the UK I'm not surprised you can't see a reason, your networks seemed to be tied together with baling wire and string. Even Vodafone the poorest telco in Australia has great speed internet but with a much lesser footprint. Here in the antipodes we watch on and shake our heads where one would expect a great mobile network for a small, fairly densely populated country we see steam punk powered GSM. BTW 5G has been demo'd by 2 out of 3 telcos here. you people should be camping in MP offices demanding better

  4. Milton

    Ah, political speak

    "... minister Matt Hancock, who earlier this month said he has travelled all over the world and has yet to see a country as far ahead with 5G trials as the UK ..."

    Presumably "I have yet to see" means "I didn't look properly, to enable me to lie with plausible deniability".

    I'll add this to my Translation Guide to Politicians' Statements, which already includes such gems as—

    "I mis-spoke" = "I lied and got caught doing it"

    "My words have been taken out of context" = "I lied a LOT"

    "I don't recognise that {incriminating} interpretation" = "I'm gonna keep lying till the proof is published"

    and the all-time weasel—

    "I apologise if some people took offence" = "I'm too much of a turd to apologise honestly for my offensive behaviour"

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