back to article What can I say about this 5G elixir? Try it on steaks! Cleans nylons! It's made for the home! The office! On fruits!

Once in a generation, a technology comes along that changes everything: how we work, communicate, trade, live. And based on a year of seemingly endless coverage, you could be forgiven for believing that "5G", the next advance in wireless technology, is it. It will make the internet-of-things a reality; it will fix internet …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    US voters get what they vote for

    The unfortunate thing is that a tiny bit of regulation could fix a lot of these problems. Simply unbundle the value chain, so that the cable companies have to provide access to their networks on the same terms that they offer to their own content business.

    If they're playing fair and above board, they can't lose out, shareholders have lost nothing. And if they aren't, let them fold, and somebody marginally less dishonest can take on the assets.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: US voters get what they vote for

      Well the nice thing about 5G is that it will put pressure on the cable monopolies in a few years.

      5G doesn't make more efficient use of the airwaves, but it is being accompanied by making a LOT more airwaves available for it to exploit. So anywhere you can get the backhaul to (whether via fiber or newfangled stuff like AT&T's AirGig) you can get some pretty terrific data rates for fixed wireless. Those high frequencies aren't very suitable for phones because trees can block the signal, let alone buildings, but they will be great when both ends are fixed.

      The cable companies will finally have real competition, so we won't need to worry about trying to make them open up their networks. The telcos could do the same using (which is now available in symmetric form) but in the US they are all busy trying to forget about the copper they have in the ground as quickly as they can because of all the regulation that accompanies offering landlines.

      If the FCC wanted to deregulate something, rather than making internet access a wild west, they should relax the regulations around landlines in areas served by broadband or cellular competition, to encourage them to make use of those assets in the ground. Everyone who has DSL of at least 20 Mbps could get at or near a gigabit with, if we could only get them to want to install it.

      1. Shadow Systems

        Re: US voters get what they vote for

        Except even DSL isn't an option in some places. Where I live I have the "choice" of overpriced & crappy speeds from Comcast, AT&T claims they can give me DSL but only if I agree to upgrade their copper (otherwise a standard land line voice circuit is barely doable), or try to go with a wireless carrier of some sort. It doesn't matter, both cell & satelite have the same problem to my home, namely I'd have to get all my neighbors to chop down all their trees so I could have LOS to either a cell tower or the horizon for a satelite. And I'm not THAT far from SillyConeValley where they treat FTTH as if it were as ubiquotous as chewing gum & just as cheap. Go out into anything even more rural than this cow town & you can forget wireless cell, there may not be a tower for miles, & satelite is so expensive it might as well not be on the table. Fibre in the country? Only if you've got more money than Beezos & promise to give it to $ISP by the billion to get them to run it to you. Otherwise, kiss that pipedream goodbye.

        All this is to lead up to the point of the fact that G.Fast isn't an option in many places, because even DSL isn't an option. They're lucky if they can get *dial up* over a POTS line that may have last seen a repair tech sometime around the last ice age. =-(

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: US voters get what they vote for

        Well, 5G *could* make the airwaves a little more efficient. The new 5G-NR protocol supposedly has lower latency and offers the choice of either FDD and TDD duplex schemes from the start (TDD came a little late to LTE). Given the asymmetrical nature of cellular traffic these days, I imagine that carriers and regulators may push to retire FDD channel allocations for TDD allocations.

        Also, it'll bring some harmonization to the 3.5 and 3.8 GHz bands, which are currently a smorgasbord of differing standards from Ubiquiti, Cambium, and others.

        Speaking of those bands, if the FCC wanted to spur a bit of competition, it would keep part of the 3.x GHz band for smaller operators, placing limits on the size of operators and making the areas smaller. Too bad that the FCC appears to be doing exactly the opposite, throwing smaller WISPs to the wolves...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: US voters get what they vote for

        > "...they will be great when both ends are fixed."

        What happens when it rains or snows?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: US voters get what they vote for

          So long as the distance isn't too great that shouldn't be an issue. While people point out that when it rains heavily your satellite TV will go out using similar frequencies (as high as 18-20 GHz for Directv) they conveniently forget that 1) the power levels are incredibly small - arriving at the dish at about -90 dbm in clear weather and 2) the signal travels through over ten MILES of rain/ice in the atmosphere which causes the attenuation/scattering.

          A signal traveling a half mile that arrives at more like -60 or -70 dbm in clear weather will be a lot harder to knock out. And hey, it isn't like cable/DSL/fiber internet has 100% uptime, at least if you know you get knocked out when rain exceeds two inches an hour you know either the outages will be few and short, or getting your internet knocked out won't be a problem because you'll be fleeing the flash flood that's about to float your house down the newly expanded banks of the local river.

          1. 404

            Re: US voters get what they vote for

            <looking at viasat modem> Currently receiving at -45.3 dBm , cloudy w/light rain. Heavy rain will kill it though..

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: US voters get what they vote for

              That's the power level AFTER the low noise amplifier block in your LNB. Dunno about Viasat, but Directv's LNB has a two stage amp that takes it from about -90 dbm to ~ -25 dbm, which depending on the length of cable and number of splits is spec'ed to reach the receivers at a minimum of -55 dbm.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: US voters get what they vote for

      > "...unbundle the value chain..."

      I must confess I'm not familiar with this particular bit of jargon. Exactly what actions are you proposing?

  2. Michael Jarve

    Greatful for what we get.

    Living in a rural area, serviced by a WISP I helped get off the ground, I’d appreciate even 20mb/s broadband. The relatively meager 4mb/S (max; routinely only 100-200kb/s) I have now (occasionally supplemented by my phone’s 8mb/s hotspot speed with 8GB/month cap) is good enough for daily web use, but useless for streaming HD video, music, cloud use, etc. If I buy a game via Steam, I can either wait 20-30 hours for it to download (never mind patches), or burn through a month’s worth of 4G data in one go. And in the area I live in, this is typical. In order to get anything appreciably faster, I would have to pay, out of pocket, about $90,000USD, for “up to” 100mb/s internet, plus $89/month plus fees, etc. 5G, without meaningful reliability, service, elimination of data caps, or speed improvements is useless to me. If the government wanted to make things better, they’d stop throwing money into unicorn wireless systems and throw it into expanding rural fiber, or even bloody DSL. It really says something when I have to travel 15 miles with a laptop and glom off a dialysis center’s guest WI-FI to download any larger file, be it a game or a Windows 10 Service Pack biannual update.

    1. jockmcthingiemibobb

      Re: Greatful for what we get.

      That is what happens when ISPs are forced to deliver uncapped plans and not allowed to shape traffic. Meanwhile overseas they mandate WISPS deliver a minimum of 25Mbps.

    2. Updraft102

      Re: Greatful for what we get.

      Living in a rural area, serviced by a WISP I helped get off the ground, I’d appreciate even 20mb/s broadband.

      I don't believe I've ever heard of anything as slow as 20 millibit per second. It would take 6 minutes and 40 seconds just to transfer one byte!

  3. JohnFen


    The Zappa reference made my day!

  4. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    'Merican fix

    The American way to fix this would be to trademark "5G" and only allow the trademark to be used when a proper set of specifications are met. This is pretty much how cabling standards work. As long as "5G" is just an abbreviation of "5th Generation", it's going to be abused.

    Since the big payoff of 5G is shifting data into high-GHz or THz bands, I don't see it being useful very often. Maybe in stadiums, convention halls, and streets with heavy pedestrian traffic. We'll also be back to holding our phones in the air to get a better signal.

  5. tip pc Silver badge

    Given that most domestic users connect to their wired broadband via wireless, I really don’t see the issue cutting out the middle man. Yes rural and city centres have their own challenges. But in many other places it’ll be fine. I currently get a minimum of 20mbs up 30 mbs down on 4g during school holidays etc and the transmitter is ~ 1km away. The upload is always better than my VM 100mbs.

    It’s a bit silly poo pooing something that isn’t even here yet especially when we are already so reliant on wireless tech already.

    Wireless completes fast wired infrastructure, both technologies must continue to evelve and get better.

    It’s a bit like complaining that satellite tv is rubbish because the upload to the dish is constrained, yet the utility of high bandwidth multicast has enabled far more high quality HD content than cable or freeview, no good for those surrounded by trees or tall buildings but fine for others.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: "Wireless completes fast wired infrastructure"

      Exactly. The problem is that those who hype 5G want to do the wireless part, but are absolutely not interested in the wired part.

      To me, that means they're all liars selling bullshit, and the fact that Pai is with them tells me I'm right.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. DerekCurrie

    Worthless Marketing hypeHypeHYPE

    We'll have REAL 5G in two years, MAYBE. Meanwhile, bull excrement. The first tasty stool will be served up by Verizon.

    --> I dare you to find Real 4G available where you live here in 2018. Good luck.

    [Real 4G was made a standard in 2013. Every modern smart phone can run it. But where can you get it? The marketing term '4G' refers merely to fast 3G technology. Thanks, mobile service morons.]

    1. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: Worthless Marketing hypeHypeHYPE

      We'll have REAL 5G in two years, MAYBE. Meanwhile, bull excrement. The first tasty stool will be served up by Verizon.

      Doesn't stop them appearing to bet everything on it. I suppose the voluntary redundancies and booting large portion of their IT to outsourcing will help fund it.

  8. Andy Mac

    Maybe I’m missing something here, but 5g just seems like a faster way to burn through my pitiful mobile data allowancewhat do we get from “faster download speeds” if there isn’t a corresponding, and most significant, increase in data.

    1. elkster88

      Trick question?

      what do we get from “faster download speeds” if there isn’t a corresponding, and most significant, increase in data.

      Oh, you'll get a bump in the size of your data plan. Along with a significant increase in price, naturally.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not this again

      Every time there is talk of new mobile download speeds, someone starts talking about "burn through my pitiful mobile data".

      you're not going to be able to suddenly stream 2hrs of music in 5 minutes. watching a 5 minute you tube video will still be the same size, and the same length and take the same amount of time to watch, you will just buffer less of it.

      The only way this will "burn through my pitiful mobile data" is if you are the sort of person who accidentally opens lots of videos while online, so they all buffer quicker and therefore cost you more 'data'.

      You'll still be consuming the same amount of data, you just won't have to wait as long for it to be served to you.

      (although, of course, arsehole advertisers will find ways to increase the size of pages, and make everything 'larger' to fill any increase in bandwidth, so on second thoughts, yeah, maybe you will)

  9. src

    John C Dvorak

    When John C Dvorak wrote an article that was critical of 5G for PC Magazine they sacked him and replaced it with an article that their advertisers were happier with. Check out the comments beneath the replacement article:

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: John C Dvorak

      Dvorak's original article is still available online, and it's just "millimetre waves are sooooooo dangerous, they can be weaponized!" scaremongering bullshit. I don't know about firing him, unless he made a habit of writing such crap, but I certainly wouldn't have published or paid for that article.

      1. Lee D

        Re: John C Dvorak

        Actually, it wasn't anything to do with 5G.

        He was equating 5G with millimetre wave (which is, in itself, dubious as 5G will be at least partly on "ordinary" frequencies already in use and the millimetre wave frequencies haven't even been auctioned yet). And not just a few particular frequencies but basically EVERYHING above a certain frequency.

        He was then equating cellular millimeter wave with... well... some tosh about your eyeballs and skin frying. Complete lack of coherency or understanding about the difference between frequency and emitted power.

        It was an incredibly dubious, incredibly unprofessional, incredibly misleading and incredibly badly-researched article (which basically tried to use the argument "nobody uses it, so we don't know what it does, so obviously it's gonna fry your brain" - despite the fact that this kind of stuff is deployed all over the world in radar systems, military applications, site-to-site wireless links, etc.) which was pulled because it was written to try to smear 5G (and ONLY 5G) with such tosh.

        Honestly, though I remember the guy's name and probably read thousands of his articles in my time, reading that one really put him firmly in the "ignore everything he's ever written" category for me, it was just that bad.

  10. SVV

    5G : It's got 25% more G!

    Wait til they get to 11G : they'll be telling us it's "one faster".

  11. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    5G punters can jolly well get lost in a wet paper bag.

    What is wrong with the current technologies we have at present? Or is the strategy boutique full speed ahead to make more money while everybody struggle with half-baked 5G solutions?

    For me 3G/4G is fine, given that I tend to browse El Reg, chat on forums anf watch the occasional youtube video or two.

    Majority of my downloads is done at work where we have an uncapped 10Mb line.

    1. Phil Kingston

      Because shiny shiny!

  12. NeilPost Silver badge

    Yawn... more vapourware

    “It will make the internet-of-things a reality; it will fixed internet access for rural areas; it will create entire new markets; it will change literally everything that we do on a day-to-day basis.”

    ... same old snake oil they told us 4G was going to deliver.

  13. Lee D

    When they actually deliver what 3G is capable of, even a percentage of the time, then I'll start thinking about delivering what 4G is actually capable of, then we can worry about what 5G might be capable of.

    HSPA+ is technically capable of 168Mbit/s

    LTE A is technically capable of 1000Mbit/s

    I have a 4G connection on a little portable Wifi box that can just hold a steady 20-30. But even that cuts out for long periods of time and is nothing to do with the signal - a mobile phone right next to it with the same kind of SIM will happily ramp up speeds while that struggles to stream even a 0.5Mbit stream with buffering. And that's *4G*. And I live inside the M25. And the nearest tower to me is about 200 yards away with no obstruction.

    The problem to solve is not the "talking to the phones" end (that's a shared medium, plus it's highly dependent on enrivonment, etc.). It's "backend carrier" that you need to deal with. Because it's just not there.

    (But, hey, I can't even get a decent digital TV signal either, so I think we can safely assume that we've forgotten how to do radio networks nowadays).

  14. AlvordSky

    5G? Please make 4G work 1st!

    While research and prototyping on 5G is completely warranted, it would be highly preferable if the equipment suppliers and network operators would make 4G work correctly 1st. Metropolitan use of 4G/LTE remains fraught with dead zones, dropped calls (incl. failed cell tower handoff), unexplained need to re-dial, undiagnosability by end user, "attwireless" WiFi connectivity that does not work or works a speeds of kBy/sec, etc.

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