back to article With a wave of Nokia's wand, behold as your 4G network magically becomes... 5G

Nokia will allow telcos to repurpose existing 4G/LTE radios to support 5G, via an easily-deployed software update. Should we get our hopes up for near-ubiquitous fast mobile internet? Not if previous comments by the company's outgoing CEO are to be believed. More than five million legacy 4G/LTE networks will eventually be able …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whats not to like ?

    Let Nokia prove this with an open trial. Telcos will lap it up.

    Unless there are vested interests already at work to stall this deployment.

    WIth Huawei given the boot, UK could do with some genuine upgradations, instead of the 5g jokers that abound currently. And politicians making half arsed statement every other day. Telcos have been sitting on the 5G spectrum for more than 4 years without any serious launches and infrastructure investments. This could be godsend.

    Bring it on Nokia and lets see who resists this.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whats not to like ?

      I'd like to see real world speed tests before I'd 'like' it.

      As I understand it, they will enable 5G protocols to run on 4G bands. T-Mobile in the US has deployed low band 5G equipment which runs on bands similar to 4G and, so far, the speeds are similar.

      At this point it sounds like a way for carriers to claim they offer 5G, probably at an increased cost to consumers, probably with noticeable benefits.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Whats not to like ?

        Given the same channels and channel widths, 5G NR supposedly isn't much faster than 4G LTE-A. The catch is that NR makes a whole slew of optional and rarely used features in LTE-A mandatory. The big one IMHO is carrier aggregation, which allows devices to bond several channel together (which can be intra-band adjacent, intra-band non-adjacent, or inter-band). It also allows inter-band uplinks and downlinks, which really comes in handy when a carrier has a large TDD band that they can allocate mostly for downlink use. So your mobile could use a 700 MHz uplink and a bonded 1900 + 2500 MHz downlink.

        1. really_adf

          Re: Whats not to like ?

          The catch is that NR makes a whole slew of optional and rarely used features in LTE-A mandatory. The big one IMHO is carrier aggregation, ...

          Sounds like this is something that the software update doesn't need to enable: use of the feature is controlled by the network. That is, it's a problem if not supported by phones, which won't work if the network uses it.

          Call it a hunch but from Suri's previous comments I suspect the approach is technically questionable (ie will not deliver various intended benefits of 5G), and has been pursued by Nokia for non-technical reasons.

  2. iron Silver badge

    I wonder if the changing situation with Huawei is what makes this viable now when it wasn't before.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Remember 2.5G?

    Same thing, lets the vendor sell a 5G *cough 4.5G* software upgrade and then sell an actual 5G hardware at a later date letting them charge us twice....

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Remember 2.5G?

      This has been part of the '5G' spec from the beginning, but it has been overshadowed by the big change, which is the use of shorter wavelengths to allow more speed (but shorter range).

      It just goes to show that ever since '3G' became a thing, any incremental upgrades to the mobile networks have to have a marketing name, to help sell to the public. After all, it's much easier to sell a new phone (on a 24mo contract with all the extras) to Jo Blogs if you can say "It's 4G! That's one better than 3G!", than to try and explain what LTE is.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What G ?

    I couldnt care les what G they call their services, so long as they deliver a decent enough speed at a decent enough price to replace my Home Broadband delivered by the eye gouging incumbents.

    Since they all have mobile presence (except Three, which is standalone), why would they cannibalise this juicy revenue stream in favour of Mobile BB, and replace their landline business? So UK will always be a laggard in terms of whatever G deployment, assuming we have our US overlords' blessings.

    Not to forget the entrenched interests of the square mile wolves and hedge fund managers (read Tory freinds) , who will balk at such advances in technology, and look to maintaining the status quo to milk as much as they can.

    Poor, poor UK consumers, forever destined to be ripped off !

    1. Richard Jones 1

      Re: What G ?

      While I agree that the 'G' does not matter, the lack of working service at my location does affect me. If I want service within my 4 walls it has to be wired as radio currently provides no solution. If the Nokia offers a way forward, then bring it on at a price that will come in lower than the present wired service. However, I doubt that it will reach ether the coverage, or price point that many will crave Current 5G suggestions are strictly for others to get excited about.

  5. Confuciousmobil

    So carriers can say they have 5G while not really offering anything better than existing 4G?

    I’m sure the public will lap up their shiney be 5G phones.

    I’ll wait until 5G delivers decent speed benefits.

    1. NeilPost Silver badge

      I’d worry it will just congest out capacity on 4G and service will become worse for the vast majority of users with this pimp my basestation dodge.

      1. Defiant

        Not if the masts have Fibre backup like Three are doing

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Three are doing..???

          I think you have bought their BS hook, line and sinker. Must be living under a rock.

          They are doing f*** all about their network and is getting progressively worst, despite all the spectrum they paid for. Its almost criminal.

  6. Sirius Lee

    Interim solution

    saying most "do not see this as a necessary solution in the short to medium term"

    There's money marketing 5G. Now some western markets are banishing Huawei this might be a short-term fix while longer term full fat hardware upgrade is rolled. It seems likely to be somewhat attractive to the telecoms provoider's accountants because they get a reason to get more out of existing capital investments.

    Clearly this route was available all along. Equally clearly, the vendors of shiny new hardware wanted to sell shiny nerw hardware not software update. I see the argument that this maybe like 2.5G. But is 4.5G that bad if it provides a route to an incremental upgrade? If a telco is putting in new hardware it makes sense to use 5G kit. But in mature markets? Ma be not so much.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who cares

    Is 5g a technology looking for a problem to solve? Yes, you might talk IoT or autonomous vehicles but the reality is it will be used to live stream every time a Love Island influencer takes a shit.

  8. aki009

    Sometimes the root cause is not obvious

    Let's say you are a carrier with an investment in 4G networks and a government grant of 5G frequencies. Then let's say you'd like to delay rolling out lots of new expensive 5G hardware for whatever reason (COVID-1984 being an obvious one), but the valuable government grants include various use-it-or-lose-it clauses.

    With this software-based 5G path a carrier can provide a "solution" that is good enough to meet all its commitments for a song, though it obviously won't be the 5G that 5G visionaries intended it to be. And presumably the carrier will turn around and upgrade to real 5G hardware when prices settle a bit.

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