back to article If you think 5G is overhyped, wait till you meet 5.5G

Fewer than half of 5G users say they've experienced improvements in speed or reliability over 4G according to a new survey, but that is not going to stop some in telecoms pushing ahead with efforts to deliver an enhanced version branded 5.5G. The survey comes from comparison service Uswitch, which says that upwards of 16 …

  1. Filippo Silver badge

    Meanwhile, I can still easily find spots in city centers where I don't even have reliable 3G.

    1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

      Mean while here in Lincolnshire, I'm often on 2G. Handset and sim are both 5G capable.

      1. Snake Silver badge

        RE: 2G

        How? Here in metropolitan U.S., 2G has been shut down for a while and even 3G was killed off this past summer.

        1. adam 40 Silver badge

          Re: RE: 2G

          In the UK, 2G has survived better than 3G because of legacy contracts and also its low bandwidth usage in the spectrum.

          1. Snake Silver badge

            Re: RE: 2G

            Wish I could say the same here. The cell company forced me to buy a new phone because they ended 3G support for my 4G phone, leaving only one 'band' of connectivity, and then decided "Well, since we did that, let's just end all support for that series entirely!".

            1. joed

              Re: RE: 2G

              Tmobile nagged me earlier this year, yet my emergency use flip-phone (15+ years old, not the the bendable fancy type) keeps working on their network. I bet that 3G network will remain in use for water/gas meters etc (and few consumer holdouts won't make much difference).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And I know several people, all separate, all with a bit of tech knowledge, who keep their phone set for 3G simply because it is generally faster and more reliable than 4G or 5G.

    3. TimMaher Silver badge

      Re:- Spots in city centres.

      I really like those.

      Underground, gloomy, almost empty bars where the carpet sticks to your feet.

  2. Roland6 Silver badge

    “help us achieve native intelligence"

    Given what is being written about AI and a need for fast interconnects, I wonder if the idea is to have AI-capable mobile phones - coupled with 5.5G...

  3. Mike 137 Silver badge


    "it’s important to remember 5G was first trialled in the UK just three years ago, so this technology is really still in its infancy

    So we're moving on to 5.5G already? It seems that the tail now wags the dog as a matter or course in the comms field (indeed probably in the entirety of IT). I may be old fashioned, but I always thought that these technologies were tools for doing things we wanted to accomplish. They seem instead to be goals in their own right that we have to accommodate to (and of course keep replacing perfectly adequate previous kit to access). I wonder how many real purposes actually need 10 Gb/s connectivity to one's phone.

    1. Snowy Silver badge

      Re: Progress?

      Mobile progress is like a shark if not swimming it dies.

    2. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      Re: Progress?

      No, we're not moving on to 5.5G already.

      One vendor, desperate to sell gear to telcos, has hyped up the latest increment in their equipment. Even the analysts seem to have called them out on it - Huawei are obviously not buying enough analyst reports.

      Just ignore it. Everyone else is.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

        Re: Progress?

        Don"t worry, next week you'll see some operator displaying on his phones something like 5GE or 5G+ just to get some buzz...

        (not to be confused with 5G E as was available in some underdeveloped country on the wrong side of the pond)

    3. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: Progress?

      I'm personally looking forward to it. I'd like to ditch my 10MB internet connection and tether to my phone instead. Be one less bill to pay.

  4. VTAMguy

    5G "service"

    I need to drive for an hour to get to the nearest big city with 5G service, and even then AT&T won't let me use it because I don't have an AT&T supplied phone. In the smaller cities we are treated to "5G E" a word with meaning only to marketers, which provides no discernible difference in service from 4G. I use my phone to make phone calls and texts, and the occasional app, but I don't do financial transactions on it and I don't watch movies on it and I definitely don't want it to ever be the locus of my life. The locus of my life is my home, and that's where I want the bandwidth and the service. Ever increasing speeds from a phone provider that require me to be located within a mile from one of their towers are never going to be a useful thing for me or the people that live in the rural towns around me. I repeat for the benefit of marketers with small vocabularies: to many of us, it's just a phone for phone calls and texts. It's quite fast enough already. Don't need more.

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: 5G "service"

      " I don't do financial transactions on it and I don't watch movies on it"

      Neither of which would require 10 Gb/s even if you did use them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 5G "service"

        I believe you'd need about 5 Mb/s to stream hd (maybe double that for overhead, etc.). But hey, we all absolutely need 4K steaming AND gaming AND fuck knows what else, on out 6-ich screens - all at the same time. Otherwise, why would 'they' try to push us into 'gigabit' contracts, eh?

    2. Snake Silver badge

      Re: 5G "service"

      For me 5G "service" is just the opposite; just yesterday I locked the phone [back] on to 4G because initial connectivity was terrible on 5G, any throughput benefits were negated, substantially worse even, once the delay in opening up the request and the DNS was factored in. Just yesterday I realized I was so sick of terrible 5G that I fell back to locked-in 4G.

  5. vtcodger Silver badge

    “We can also refarm the sub-6GHz spectrum to achieve ultra-large bandwidth for 5.5G,” Wang added.

    Does that mean that I can look forward to the Guardian, NPR et. al. telling me that the current farm architecture of the sub-6GHz spectrum is an existential threat to human civilization that must be addressed forthwith?

  6. Martin Summers

    Marketing cares about this. No-one else does. That is the only reason they switch it on before it can be fully rolled out. The fact that people are now wondering what all the fuss is about is very much a marketing own goal.

  7. VoiceOfTruth

    If we had not kicked out Huawei

    We would probably have good 5G by now. It's not just the handset, is it?

    1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      Re: If we had not kicked out Huawei

      Remember the time when having a Pentium processor made the internet go faster on phone lines?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If we had not kicked out Huawei

      Sure, with 5.5G backhaul to the government of China with all your data.

      Huawei isn't an electronics company, it's a spy agency with its own manufacturing arm.

      Are people REALLY this stupid?

      1. crayon

        Re: If we had not kicked out Huawei

        "Are people REALLY this stupid?"

        Yes, you are, at least.

        For those complaining about there being no difference to 4G, the article helpfully points out that:

        "In fact, as far as the UK goes, 5G services are still effectively being delivered by bolting 5G radio antennas to the same network infrastructure used for existing 4G services."

        “But it’s important to remember 5G was first trialled in the UK just three years ago, so this technology is really still in its infancy. We’re still only scratching the surface of what it can do,” he added.

        3 years most countries that "had" 5G were also just trialling it. But many of those countries trialling it back then have by now built large and functioning networks.

        This whole article reeks of sour grapes wrt Huawei, and poor excuses for why 5G in the UK is in a sorry state. The number one reason is that the UK banned the most suitable supplier of 5G because Huawei refused to put in the backdoors demanded by USUK.

  8. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    I think the problem with 5G is it's been sold to the public as the ultimate way of accessing the internet and we can put everything on it from desktop computers through to hundreds of IoT devices. This uses a lot of bandwidth. They've also sold it as a good replacement for wired broadband, which requires a lot more bandwidth.

    It's not. it's good, but bandwidth isn't infinite, and it's unusually sensitive to obstructions, wth the result that there are a *lot* of places where you can get a good 5G service outside, but walk inside, and the service drops to 4, or even 3 G.

    1. J. Cook Silver badge

      Indeed; there are spots in my 1961 brick house where I get 0G service. (i.e., no signal whatsoever)

      1. DrBobK

        In the large University where I work we too have an extensive 0G service. Even outside. Even on the top of a hill with no obstructions.

      2. Jan 0 Silver badge

        > 0G service

        Surely the zero generation was the wired 'phone. All you need to do is drill a small hole through the bricks for the cable.

    2. Proton_badger

      Addressing the sensitivity to obstructions: It not exactly, it is because you're in the middle of the roll-out, as the article states. Right now your local cell towers each have 3-4 channels at different frequencies. Maybe three of them will be 4G and one will be 5G. So basically 4G have more coverage at different wavelengths, some of which are long wavelengths that penetrate buildings better. It's not 5G's fault, it's just what channels are repurposed to begin with, in this stage of the rollout. Around here in some places we start with 5G on 600MHz so it can get better range and penetration than 4G in this early stage if we prioritize coverage over bandwidth, in other places they go for 3.5GHz first, prioritizing bandwidth.

      Some day there'll be 5G on all channels/frequencies, from the very long range 600MHz to the high bandwidth 2.5GHz-6GHz (and much higher, but mmWave is very localized). There'll also be sharing where one channel can be both 4G and 5G or bundling,etc.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        So they need to gee up... Neddy.

      2. Justthefacts Silver badge

        You’re right but….

        This doesn’t make any sense as a product! 5G as a protocol gets identical performance to 4G as a protocol, indoors where the physics forces you to use that radio band. 5G gets very high data-rate and low-latency outdoors, by using mmWave, precisely in locations where there’s no interest in either watch UHD movies or AAA gaming, when you might actually want it.

        There’s zero advantage to being “5G” per se. There might be some advantage to adding mmWave capability. But just adding a couple of new radio bands has *never* required a whole new “G” in the history of 3GPP. Usually, radio band doesn’t even count as a Release upversion, which happens every year or two, it’s just a UE capability in a matrix defined *within* a 3GPP release. Why is *this* capability being raised as so significant compared to: number of UE antennae, number of MIMO layers, HARQ, BWP switching delay, or any one of half a dozen other UE radio capabilities?

        1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

          Re: You’re right but….

          Yeah, well, "5G" was hyped primarily by the US operators who saw it (i) as a way to sell the punters a new phone, and (ii) a cheaper way to deliver high speed broadband without digging trenches (particularly to young people who demand high speed but don't seem to care if it isn't very reliable - I guess TikTok videos are short). Helped by the boondoggle that is US telecom subsidies - which seem to generate free money whenever a telco can convince a government there is some "new technology" which needs to be subsidised.

          The real technology changes in 5G are not bandwidth/speed - as you say, that doesn't require a new G. The real changes are in the network architecture: mostly around moving core network elements towards the edge, running on smaller and more commodity hardware and/or virtualised on commercial cloud and potentially allowing lower latencies for traffic that can be physically localised. But that isn't sexy for consumers so the press has been about bandwidth.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Acronyms.


          People reading this might not understand the acronyms, but they still might be interested (newbies), it's nice to be able to read the comments where acronyms are at least defined once, to make it readable, and so they can look into it further.

          By physics, the higher the frequency of the signal, the less it can penetrate walls and buildings, including reflective metalised glass as such in offices for privacy. Lower frequencies circa 700MHz, will be used for 5G in rural areas, because it's more about coverage than bandwidth, without new localised masts, infrastructure, 5G isn't much of benefit over 4G.

          UE - User equipment, i.e. basically, in a word - the handset/mobile.

          MIMO - Multiple input and multiple output, or MIMO, a method for multiplying the capacity of a radio link using multiple transmission and receiving antennas.

          HARQ - Hybrid Automatic Repeat Request, ARQ refers to Automatic Repeat Request i.e. if sender doesn’t receive Acknowledgement (ACK) before timeout, the receiver discards the bad packet and sender shall re-transmits the packet.

          BWP - Bandwidth Part, is a concept introduced in 5G mainly to reduce the power consumption of the mobile phone

    3. Richard Tobin

      I don't think the way it's been sold is the problem at all. Most people probably don't even know that it can be used for anything other than mobile phones.

      I have a 5G mobile phone, and generally get a good signal. The only "problem" is that it makes no difference at all - nothing I do benefits from the extra speed.

    4. Justthefacts Silver badge

      “Unusually sensitive to obstructions”

      The problem is that 5G mmWave as sold just doesn’t make any *sense*. It offers these insanely high data-rates only *outside*, where all people need is maybe to check a text message, email or maybe one webpage.

      The place where you want high bandwidth/low-latency is watching a movie or AAA gaming…..when you will be inside a building or car, precisely where mmWave doesn’t actually work. It just makes no sense as a user product.

      Where the technology *might* make sense, is as a replacement for WiFi with a SOHO router, indoor unit + outdoor unit backhaul. If 5G were a sufficiently great performance advantage for users over WiFi, people might be prepared to pay a monthly subscription as a WiFi replacement in-home, which they would have to do as it operates in licensed bands. But on the one side, WiFi 6 is pretty good and WiFi 7 will be coming soon….and on the other, we’ve been here before with WiMAX. The problem is, both WiFi and cellular are good solutions in their own domain, neither really provides great advantages in the adjacent domain.

  9. Jan 0 Silver badge

    Ah, Marketing!

    Judging by the previous "Generations", 5G Advanced and or 5.5G will be renamed and launched as 6G.

    (Remember how LTE i.e. 3.5G suddenly got launched as 4G?)

  10. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Still barely works

    There are only a few permutations where 5G is really working. Most phones show "5G" even when they are not capable of using it. My Xperia 1 III will show 5G even though it is kicked off the network for trying to use a SA 5G band without having any working SA support.

  11. The Velveteen Hangnail

    5th generation lies

    And I'm willing to bet that those that says 5G has improved their performance, are the kinds of people that purchase gold-plated HDMI cables to improve visual and audio quality.

    I've been saying since the beginning that 5G is complete meaningless drivel. It was never designed to help end users. It was a way for providers to service more people with less hardware and reduce maintenance costs. Oh, and soak the starry-eyed new tech chasers for additional money.

  12. Brian Meehan

    5G is for the carriers, not you. The increased speed and bandwidth, and reduced latency, is intended to provide enough of a quality and quantity to provide both mobile and fixed service. Carriers have run out of people to sell phones to, so they want to provide home/business access. This means, at least for home access, video.

    The reason you may not be seeing those breath-taking speeds is because carriers haven't deployed enough bandwidth. Mostly, even when you get 5G, it's on a very limited spectrum, or even spectrum that is shared with 4G. You may be connecting to 5G, but the download is still 4G. or worse still that limited bandwidth may be shared with 4G through DSS. Until carriers dedicate all/most of their spectrum to 5G, you won't be seeing it. The exception is fixed internet. Vz and T-mob in the states are using that very high frequency bandwidth to provide home access, and are selling quite a bit of it.

    5.5 will probably have some features that will be maybe a bit more spectrum efficient, save on battery life, etc, but the average consumer probably won't notice.

    In a pure, stand-alone 5G network, 200mhz is not only possible, but everyday. How does this help you? not at all, it helps the carrier stuff more customers on the same bandwidth. More coin in the piggy-bank.

    1. Justthefacts Silver badge

      Exactly right

      Plus in addition, carrier virtualised network architecture.

      But for the original point you made - 5G will be used for fixed backhaul, I have one word: WiMAX. This will fail as a business.

  13. spireite Silver badge

    A problem...

    ... looking for a solution.

    For most people,even the upper speed of 4G LTE is overkill.

    1. joed

      Re: A problem...

      I bet the the "solution" would help consumers discover the problem with paltry data caps (if one was to use 5G as it's advertised). Maybe a stadium full of mobile phone users would be plausible use case but why any sane person would willingly pay for something he/she is not likely to ever need.

  14. Denarius Silver badge

    And in Oz

    when the 3G is shutdown 2024 or earlier, outside of the 10 biggest cities, all phones will stop working. Every time I get an SMS from the ruins of national telco about 5G upgrades, signal strength drops, more connections drop halfway thru dialing and so on.

    Bring on his Muskiness satellite phone and Starlink. As for the other two wannabes, they are immune mostly because they dont have coverage out side big cities in my experience

    1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      Re: And in Oz

      On an unrelated new, Starlink will be soon limited to Tweeter access...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I’ll wait for 5.51G

    My hens won’t lay under 5.5.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    5G has so far struggled to meet the sky-high expectations set by the telecoms industry

    which happens in just about every case when advertising bullshit turns into reality shit.

  17. James 47

    It works great for me

    I replaced fibre with it:

    Not bad for a 30-day rolling contract for £28 pm.

  18. bob 46

    5G speed

    Are you frickin kidding me users report no increase in speed? In Sheffield, my 4G is around half the speed as my home broadband at 20ish mbps. However, when I do wander unwittingly into a patch of 5G coverage, it is off the scale! 120mbps+ every time. Coverage is the issue, not speed up here. Are other people's experiences very different to this?

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: 5G speed

      >it is off the scale!

      I'd guess that its something to do with you being the only user on that tower.

  19. martinusher Silver badge

    You cut out a major player in the field so what do you expect?

    People seem to forget that the reason why Huawei became our black sheep was because it was leading the 5G pack by a large margin. They had about two thirds of the patents needed by this technology and had base station kit and phones read years ago. That is the real reason Why They Had To Be Stopped.

    This is before the whole spy movie web was spun up -- its now all about security and so on. Back then the then President, T***p, remarked about the gap between them and us by just boasting that we were going to leapfrog 5G and go directly to 6G. It left a few people scratching their heads, those who actually tried to put substance in the statement. Meanwhile we had to sell 'pseudo-5G' -- more like four and a bit G -- as 5G. I haven't explored it because I have no idea what's being pushed at us, it appears to be more marketing than engineering.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You cut out a major player in the field so what do you expect?

      Sure, with 5.5G backhaul to the government of China with all your data.

      Huawei isn't an electronics company, it's a spy agency with its own manufacturing arm.

      Are people REALLY this stupid?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    5.5G is obviously needed to transmit the new COVID variants. 5G just can't cut it anymore.

  21. StargateSg7

    4G, 5G, 5.5G and 6G are ALL Ferde Sheisse !!!

    Our parent company (North Canadian Aerospace) is testing RIGHT NOW its Quantum-Well-based Trapped Xenon particle Quantum Entangled communications system (aka Spooky Action at a Distance) that has SOLVED the decoherence issue when reading or setting the position OR spin of said particles! Using an array of 8192 by 8192 quantum wells stamped into sealed ruggedized borosilicate glass wafers, the data transfer rate is now up to the PETABYTES PER SECOND level!

    And since Einstein WAS RIGHT, it happens at ANY distance instantaneously! Quantum Entanglement has BEEN TESTED (i.e. American, European and Chinese researchers have tested the entangement speed!) at over 50,000x the Speed of Light so evidently Einstein WAS WRONG in saying that NOTHING is faster than the speed of light! SOMEHOW, no matter the distance, quantum particles can get entangled and have their spin OR position be the exact same at superluminal speeds!

    Previously, there was NO EASY WAY to actually measure or set in a direct way the actual entangled particles' position or spin BUT by using an INFERED state-of-change on the properties of neighbouring hard magnetic particles using a picosecond-level pulsed UV laser, whenever the quantum entanglement happens to the position or spin of the trapped Xenon Particle, there is a CORRESPONDING CHANGE to the field strength AND/OR polarization of the EM field within a neighbouring set of trapped ferrous particles (i.e. iron). The GROUP-based measurement or setting of those nearby trapped iron particles using said UV laser indicates OR causes the state of position/spin change in the entangled Xenon particles which change at the same time no matter how far apart.

    Since we are NOT reading or writing the Xenon particle itself but INFERING the change through other means, decoherence is negated and quantum-bit errors are mitigated. Interestingly, it requires that INITIALLY for TWO 8192x8192 arrays of Xenon particles be nearby each other and pulsed in sequence by the same UV laser before the comms chips can be moved apart to any distance. It means those two chips are now PERMANENTLY LOCKED TOGETHER at the quantum-level via some as-yet-unknown way and the entanglement will be unaffected by the presence of other nearby Q-bit communications chips. Those two chips now STAY locked together. This is a security feature for direct peer-to-peer communications BUT is a problem if you want to NETWORK multiple users together.

    in order to get switch-or-router-like functionality, you have to use ONE laser to lock each comms chip to a MASTER ROUTER which has MULTIPLE 8kx8k Q-bit arrays so that normal routing-switching can take place between multiple remote devices. The external comms Q-bit chips that have been entangled by the same UV laser to the specific 8kx8k array on the master router are now locked together and ready for high-speed, long-distance Q-bit-based communications. Our researchers HAVE been looking at ways to get NEW comms that have NOT been "introduced" to each other on a nearby basis to entangle and lock together, but the current methods to do that have been unproven to work long-term. We hope to rectify the situation within the next few years!

    That said, in the mean time, you can still make your own point-to-point, star and mesh networks that work over astronomical distances at Petabyte speeds just by buying one router and many external comms chips that are locked together on a permanent basis. To BRIDGE to other external or outside networks, normal fibre optics-based comms are used between multiple MASTER routers that each have multiple 8kby8k arrays of Q-bits entangled and locked to their own specific remote comms chips and then have each router also have a single 8kx8k array present and locked to each other used as a BRIDGING chip! Basically, you are tying together multiple sub-nets of Q-bit master routers that each have 256 attached users that can communicate at the same time with each other in their own sub-net but if they want to go outside of their subnet they have to send data to a BRIDGING/GATEWAY chip which then connects to external subnets!

    Quantum Entanglement-based Q-Bit Routers are NOW A REALITY in the LAB and will be released to the public as soon as possible!

    Now You Know!


  22. Cynical Pie

    In my personal experience 5G is a fetid bag of dog faeces and is actually slower than 4G in the few places I have actually been able to get it.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like