back to article Is it time for 6G already? Traffic analysis says yep

If you think 5G networks have failed to live up to their promise, you're not alone. But the tech is still early on in implementation, although some in the mobile industry are already looking to what might come next. The first full set of 5G standards came with 3GPP Release 15 in 2017, with the specifications officially frozen …

  1. Denarius
    Flame

    it would be great

    if only the crap 4G was as good as 3G for basic comms. In rural Oz, as well as most cities, none of these digital crap standards had the coverage of the old analogue. In Oz every G upgrade means having to find a higher hill to climb to get an SMS thru, despite newer phones being more sensitive. So just once, get coverage and performance back to where it was with 3G before rolling out yet another crapware standard that only delivers faster scammer calls. Most of us just dont care that some idiot video feed is faster when one stands under a telco tower.

    1. cyberdemon Silver badge

      Re: it would be great

      Indeed. If they would only maintain the 3G that so much legacy equipment uses and which is a very reliable fallback from 4G/5G, then we would be less worried about 5G becoming congested, because there is a reliable fallback for important stuff like emergency calls etc.

      1. HISTSIZE=10000
        Go

        Re: it would be great

        Sorry for being a killjoy but 3G is the technology most mobile operators are sunsetting (and many have already sunset, especially in US and Europe). You can't reasonably expect operators to maintain 4 distinct networks, with all kinds of fallback and handovers between them, support 10 times the throughput, and pay the same or even lower price. In addition, 3G is based on WCDMA which is a very inefficient use of the spectrum because it assumes uniform transmission quality across its whole frequency ranges. As opposed to OFDM for 4G/5G which is very tolerant to bad frequencies. So, sorry but 3G is on the way out. For the better.

        That same freed up 3G spectrum can be refarmed for 4G and 5G. Which allows, precisely, to bring better coverage, especially in the upload direction. So, it's not about keeping 3G hogging the best frequencies and keep subscribers complaining about 4G and 6G. It's about reusing the 3G frequencies to bring better network quality.

        1. john.jones.name

          3g turn off

          once everyone turns off 3G and 2G then we will get better signal the amount of energy maintaining old Infrastructure is crazy

          for Australia thats after 30 June 2024.

          If your mobile device doesn’t have Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology, even if it uses 4G, it will not be able to make voice calls on our network after 30 June 2024.

          Finally we will be in a IP / Packet only network for telstra and Vodafone already is...

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: it would be great

        All networks use the same spectrum but 3G is less efficient than later versions, so switching it off was part of making more bandwidth available. Most places that planned to switch it off have already done so.

        1. Dagg Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: it would be great

          The big issue, especially here in Oz is that 3G actually works! It doesn't matter how efficient the other standards are if they don't bloody work!

    2. Mostly Irrelevant

      Re: it would be great

      I think this is more of a case of the 4G networks in your area being bad than an issue with the technology. 4G around here has been more reliable from the start.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: it would be great

      4G works fantastically in my part of the UK, urban and rural. Can't think of the last time a call has dropped down to 2G or 3G (you'd know as it takes a lot longer to go through, and on 2G you lose HD voice). In fact I'd say the 4G at 800MHz is better than 2100MHz 3G ever was at getting out there.

      It says more about your phone or telco than it does the general technology.

      3G is inefficient and it's got to go.

      1. david 12 Silver badge

        Re: it would be great

        In fact I'd say the 4G at 800MHz is better than 2100MHz 3G

        The bands are the other way around in most of Australia. In Australia, 3g at 800MHz is better than 2100MHz 4g.

        This says nothing about the phone or network: it's about the history of band location in your area.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: it would be great

          yes, but I'm talking about the UK, where my chosen network operator (EE) never deployed 3G below 2100MHz. 4G was deployed at 1800MHz and 800MHz and it's the latter that really cuts through in rural areas (though their rural sites typically have other bands available too)

          The OP however is blaming the technology, as if 4G/5G is inherently worse for coverage - but it's not. It's how their local telco has decided to deploy it, what bands their phone supports, etc.

          Telstra seems to have deployed 4G at 700MHz. Doesn't this work well to fill in the gaps?

          1. Denarius

            Re: it would be great

            nope. Blaming the beeping lot, telcos, technology, Tom Cobbly and all because all promises of pie in the sky (or spectrum) are BS. Remember when a 56k dialup modem on a 486 was faster on a web page than the bloated 20 second loading of a dozen tracking scripts plus intrusive adds make a near current PC slow ? As for filling in gaps, my point is in Oz it does exact opposite unless one is under the widely spaced telco towers. My last long distance drive, a mere 1600 km each way north had the same coverage as it did 10 years ago despite lots of BS from assorted telcos about improved coverage.

            1. Justthefacts Silver badge

              Re: it would be great

              Well, you’ll be wanting 5G+ then (aka 5G NR-NTN, aka 5G over satellite). Covering desert with 300km between single users, with cell towers idle almost all the time, is always going to be uneconomic. And therefore a coverage commitment honoured only in the breach.

              Instead, why not stick the cell tower in the sky, Low Earth Orbit, that is literally already fully paid for by the times it orbits over somebody else (the USA). And then connect to it via a standard cellphone, so that you neither know nor care where the cell tower is. Especially given that the desert is: infinite sightline to the horizon (no blockers), zero humidity, perfect propagation characteristic for satcoms. Always going to be cheaper. Still expensive compared to boring terrestrial 5G in cities, but the distance has to be paid somehow, however you do it.

              To be clear if you haven’t been following 5G, I’m not saying “bring a satphone”, I’m saying “every 5G phone you buy off-the-shelf will also be a satphone”.

              1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

                Re: it would be great

                Every 5G phone will have the antennae and power needed to communicate with a tower 300km away? Bearing in mine that the maximum distance for 5G towers is about 70km, under ideal conditions, and normally only half of that is the best you can do.

                1. Blazde Silver badge

                  Re: it would be great

                  Yes. They make the satellite ginormous so your phone doesn't have to be. AST SpaceMobile - blotting out the sun near you soon.

                  1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

                    Re: it would be great

                    Ah, so that's the reason why they will be several hundred square-miles large, and in higher number than the planned Starlink constellation. Else we won't get enough shadow for climate engineering.

          2. Dagg Silver badge

            Re: it would be great

            Telstra seems to have deployed 4G at 700MHz. Doesn't this work well to fill in the gaps?

            No! And this is only telstra, the other carriers are even more flaky. The big issue we have in Oz is the distance and population spread. You will (but not always) get coverage on main highways (A roads to you poms) but once you get away from those (B roads etc) there are huge gaps.

        2. HISTSIZE=10000

          Re: it would be great

          Australia: Vodafone has just shutdown 3G 2 weeks ago. Telstra will in June and Optus in September. So there will be plenty of spectrum to reuse for 4G/5G, possibly using dynamic spectrum sharing.

      2. Jurassic.Hermit

        Re: it would be great

        Same here in Switzerland. My local 4G tower belts out as much as 322 down and 45 up, better than my home VDSL copper connection.

      3. ravenviz Silver badge

        Re: it would be great

        “3G is inefficient and it's got to go”

        Doubt it, I had to downgrade my connection from 4G to 3G in the Lake District today to get any connectivity whatsoever!

        And it works just fine for message passing, short videos, images, etc.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: it would be great

          You miss the point.

          4G IS more efficient. The fact you've got better 3G reception in your area is meaningless. And as 3G is switched off, the 3G frequencies will be used for higher G's, so things will be even better for you.

          I hope you haven't gone all 3G - it won't be working for you for much longer!

    4. Flak

      Bring back the art of low bandwidth coding

      A couple of years ago had a Masters student work at our company. He was working on a Masters project using LoRaWAN, an IoT wireless protocol. He was trying to get some ambitious interactions between an end device he had built (with e-ink display) and an application he had written. In his mid/late 20's and studying software engineering, he never had to work in a bandwidth constrained environment. As he investigated ways of getting a lot of information across a very constrained wireless link, I pointed him at legacy technologies and protocols which had already solved many of these issues out of necessity, indicating he may want to dust off some of these for his work.

      Voice services don't need HD quality - 8kbps or even less may be fine where bandwidth is scarce.

      SMS should still be considered an essential.

      Networks need to be built so that these services can run even where signal strength is weak. Backward compatibility with lower frequency / longer range services must be maintained to provide those services!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bring back the art of low bandwidth coding

        maybe you don't need HD quality, but if it's available why wouldn't you take it? It sounds a lot better and makes phone calls much more pleasurable. We don't need to rely on 80s era compression schemes that mangle the already comparatively poor quality audio from G711, a standard that has its origins in what 1960s electronics were capable of.

        4G gives you that (via VoLTE) and it gives you a usable amount of data capacity too, even at the extremes of coverage. It does it better than 3G ever could because it doesn't have the CDMA "cell breathing" phenomenon and it doesn't need to waste massive blocks of spectrum to service even one customer. It doesn't have the interference/EMC issues of a TDMA system like GSM or the poor data throughput of GPRS. It doesn't need legacy circuit switched infrastructure to operate. It is more secure than both. And it *is* deployed at lower frequencies for longer range. You can even get it all on a £15 Nokia dumb phone too.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Bring back the art of low bandwidth coding

          Don't disagree, however, there are times and places (ie. right now in my house) where the EE 4G network delivers sub 3kbps, hence the phones are using VoWiFi service.

          So whilst it is great to be able to use HD voice, there are times when the service needs to be able to down grade to significantly lighter data rates. Hence why services such as SMS should be maintained.

        2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Bring back the art of low bandwidth coding

          You can even get it all on a £15 Nokia dumb phone too.

          The cheapest Nokia 4G phone is the 110, which is forty quid on Amazon, though I have just bought a new 105 4G (same thing, ish, without the camera, now superseded) for twenty quid delivered on eBay.

      2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: Bring back the art of low bandwidth coding

        No thanks to old GSM voice codecs. Those old voice codecs count on being able to find a small number of strong tones in a voice. They can work for a radio announcer kind of voice but fail miserably on some others. I never used a cellphone for voice calls until VoLTE because you had to really concentrate on figuring out what people were saying and ask them to repeat.

        5G does work well with a weak signal. T-Mobile in the US is using standalone 5G for their long-range 600MHz band. The original LTE packet latency was all over the place, tens of milliseconds to tens of seconds, and TCP simply wouldn't work. It's sluggish but usable since going to 5G.

        When people hate 5G, I'm betting it has a lot to do with the implementation. Non-standalone 5G is still around and it's likely the #1 reason people hate 5G. Did the world learn nothing from FTP? Some telcos have their best frequencies reserved for 3G or LTE.

      3. Dagg Silver badge

        Re: Bring back the art of low bandwidth coding

        SMS should still be considered an essential.

        Especially here in Oz as we need it to report little things like bush fire, flood and thunder storm asthma alerts. If you are out in the middle of no where you need that SMS coverage.

    5. Jurassic.Hermit

      4G is great already

      “Although the average speeds users in the UK are likely to see are lower than what it is theoretically capable of – somewhere between 75 Mbps and 240 Mbps by some estimates – this is multiple times faster than 4G.”

      Well here in my corner of the Jura, the local 4G antenna has allowed my pre 5G iPhone, according to Speedtest, a whopping 322 mbps down and 45 up.

      Implementation in the UK seems to be the issue together with too many users for the infrastructure provided by stingy operators.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: 4G is great already

        Are you on EE by any chance? They seem to have the best coverage on the West Coast, probably because of the emergency services contract. Stuff all in the middle of Loch Tarbert, though ....

    6. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: it would be great

      "In Oz every G upgrade means having to find a higher hill to climb to get an SMS thru, despite newer phones being more sensitive."

      Each new generation is more expensive to deploy and that doesn't even take into account the hit when scrapping perfectly functional gear. I have to wonder if places like Africa are going to eventually wind up ahead as they can buy the old gear for pennies on the Pound and for the same money, deploy far more of it to have better coverage.

    7. Grunchy Silver badge

      Re: it would be great

      Why did anybody update? I still have iPhone SE 1st gen, circa 2014, because it has excellent 3G radio, good screen, good performance, 64 GB memory.

      “Newer is always better,” yeah, for who though? For the guy trying to perpetuate his expensive, eternally improving handsets. I paid $100 for this thing back in 2015 and refused every single Apple “update” which is nothing but Apple sabotage. Jobs was an ass and his company sucks. I only have this thing because FLIR made a companion IR camera for it, which I got for $50 second-hand because people are in a rush to get swindled.

      I use data for free from my unlimited wi-fi, I barely use any of my “tablet” 6GB plan. This mobile internet is handy, but in no way is it “crucially important” at all. My 500 kbps wi-fi is plenty good enough.

      NO SALE on 6G.

    8. jonfr

      Re: it would be great

      You have to have VoLTE enabled phone. But not all mobile networks have that enabled. It also use VoWiFi that is based on VoLTE that bridges that holes in coverage for 4G. I don't know how many networks have enabled Vo5G, but that is soon to be the standard for voice for 5G.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "One idea for energy efficiency is the use of AI to manage the infrastructure"

    I suppose the energy savings in the network will help to provide the energy needed to run the AI.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Quite a lot of the new base stations are self-powered. I guess greater efficiency will allow for more, smaller base stations for more dense coverage. Possibly at some point we might even get fire-and-forget self-configuring stations.

      But I don't see networks outside China increasing their spend just to get the new tech. Existing stations will be updated and replaced as and when.

    2. HISTSIZE=10000

      On.net AI is for inference, not ML

      The energy consuming part of AI is the learning and training phases of the models. On net will be for inference only: that does not consume a lot.

      Arguably, the models need to be updated periodically, but that effort will be mutualised off net. Vendors do most of the pre-training, in factory. Operators only need to customize the models to cater to their specific situations. So most of the energy cost is mutualised globally at vendor level.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: On.net AI is for inference, not ML

        Inference is still very power hungry.

        It's only "not a lot" when compared to training the model. When compared to other techniques, it's a huge amount of energy.

  3. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Doh!

    So more crap will be able to use congest the networks, but everyone will get shorter range and more not-spots.

    Oh, and what's going to happen to all the <spit>"smart" meters? Will they be replaced with 'n'G ones, that are even more unreliable?

    1. Proton_badger

      Re: Doh!

      At least where I live 5G is being rolled out on 600MHz (in addition to higher bandwidth sub-6 frequencies), giving it better range, structure penetration and reliability than 4G - so fewer not-spots. 5G also have a number of technologies in the protocol making it more reliant and spectrum efficient. New shorter range higher frequencies will be for for more densely populated areas which makes sense anyway, the point of 5G is not really about the individual getting higher speeds but about more users per cell.

      If it seems more flaky to you it'll be because of the gradual rollout where it has very few channels allocated to begin with whereas your local tower still have 3-4 channels on 4G, so better coverage but only for now.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So more crap

      Ah... you mean:-

      - more ads

      - more data slurping

      - more telemetary

      All that lovely bandwidth will soon be used up and the Ad slingers/slurpers will be clamouring for 7G.

      My 5G capable phone has never seen a 5G signal. My home area has a few Vodafone 5G towers and that's it. The local NIMBY's went apeshit at the mere thought of a 4G mast on top of their kiddiwinkes school. It came but three years late. 5G or 6G or whatever will never happen if this load of brain dead Sky/Fox viewers have any say in the matter. The 'windmills give you cancer' conspiracy theory is rife here.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So more crap

        So you'd be happy for a cell tower on top of your house?

  4. katrinab Silver badge
    Meh

    I haven't noticed 5G being any faster than 4G, what I have noticed though is better performance in congested urban areas.

    At home, I have a perfect 4G signal and no 5G. Previously, when I went into the city centre, I noticed that download speeds got a lot slower, often unusably so. Now, with 5G in the city centre, speeds are about the same as my perfect 4G signal at home.

    1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

      I get 5G on my O2 phone in my home town, so far it's shown to be around 7.5 down and 0.12 up. 4G on the same phone is 40/24!

    2. Captain Hogwash

      All I've really noticed is that 5G runs the battery down faster.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Holmes

        re: 5G runs the battery down faster

        Add in all the AI needed for 6G and we'll be back to the mobile phone bricks of the early days. Welcome to 1G sized phones people.

        Yes, I'm being sarcastic but you never know do you?

        1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

          Re: re: 5G runs the battery down faster

          Yes, but Crapple will show hot young people seeexy dancing with 1970s sized wireless home phone handsets against their heads and the masses will clamor for them.

          But what do I know, I kinda miss my old Startac flip phone which made me feel like I was in Starfleet when I used it. Later model flipphones that actually did look like fleet communicators never made me feel that way though.

      2. david 12 Silver badge

        All I've really noticed is that 5G runs the battery down faster.

        Two reasons for that:

        1) Networks running 5g data with 4g voice, so you need to run both radios.

        2) Networks putting their 5g antenna only on their existing 4g mast, so you've got 4g cell size, so you need to amp the power right up to get a 5g connection.

        They will fix (1) when they turn off 4g, they will fix (2) when they need to.

        1. ravenviz Silver badge

          “they will fix (2) when they need to”

          They will fix (2) when they can convince people to pay for it.

          TFTFY!

    3. HISTSIZE=10000
      Thumb Up

      > I haven't noticed 5G being any faster than 4G, what I have noticed though is better performance in congested urban areas.

      That's correct. 5G massive MIMO antennas are able to detect and use reflections better - through beam forming (and interference cancellation). Even multi-path. It's an active field of research and more progress are coming in 6G (including even lower latency on the Radio side).

    4. Mostly Irrelevant

      The main point in 5G was to increase the number of phones that could be supported per node. It might be faster in a best case, but that wasn't the objective.

      1. HISTSIZE=10000
        Go

        Not exactly

        > "The main point in 5G was to increase the number of phones that could be supported per node. It might be faster in a best case, but that wasn't the objective."

        When the telecom industry releases a new 'g', they don't focus on a single KPI.

        Here are some of the most important improvements/objectives of 5G over 4G.

        - Latency divided by 10 (from 50-100ms in 4G to 5-10ms in 5G - typical) - Assuming a 5G packet core is used (i.e. 5G standalone). Release 18. aka 5G advanced will see this promise fulfiled, as standalone will be mandatory for many use cases.

        - Throughput x 100 (from 50-70 Mbps typical to up to 10Gbps in 5G - Multi carrier component, mmWave). 7GBps already observed in the wild.

        - Density x 10 (from 100 kDev/km² to 1MDev/km2)

        - Capacity x100 (100Gbps/km² to 10TBps/km²)

        - Energy efficiency x 13 (52Wh/GB in 4G LTE FDD to 4Wh/GB 5GTDD mMIMO - typical values, not theoretical values - better values are attainable)

        - Spectral efficiency x 4 (on average. values depend on conditions, QAM etc)

        - Availability (x 10 -> from 4 "9" to 5 "9", thanks to cloud tech).

        - Mobility x1.66 (from 300km/h to 500km/h)

        That's for 5G. 6G will bring even more improvements across all dimensions.

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: Not exactly

          - Throughput x 100 (from 50-70 Mbps typical to up to 10Gbps in 5G - Multi carrier component, mmWave). 7GBps already observed in the wild.

          But never seen in any real-world situation in a town or city near you.

          The x10-100 goals are all very well, but a more sane approach would be to cover more country with usable (or any) speeds, and maybe to focus on reducing the need for high traffic on phones. For example, improving fixed line services everywhere, and reducing the bloat that comes with much internet services these days.

          1. HISTSIZE=10000
            Go

            Re: Not exactly

            >> But never seen in any real-world situation in a town or city near you.

            Agreed. But it's not an either/or situation. Just as car racing innovations bring progress to the automotive industry, demonstrating theoretical speeds in the wild validates and refines concepts and technologies. Which benefits everyone down the line.

            >> The x10-100 goals are all very well, but a more sane approach would be to cover more country with usable (or any) speeds, and maybe to focus on reducing the need for high traffic on phones.

            Telcos are like you and me: they invest where it makes more sense and in accordance with their licence obligations of coverage. Again 4G was not well suited for rural areas (higher frequencies, lack of beam forming to compensate for distance and in-door attenuation).

            >> For example, improving fixed line services everywhere,

            Fixed line services also benefit from 5G. Only the last mile is wireless. Most back-haul networks are based on fibre, and now need huge upgrades. Convergent fixed/mobile operators tend to merge their mobile and fixed infrastructure for cost reasons. 5G throughput brings home wireless broadband to the level of FTTH and is much cheaper to deploy as well as faster to bring to end users. Now people also have to be smart enough to put their routers next to a window or even better, to select the external antenna option which has more power than a 2W phone. Subscribers in Norway, Sweden and Finland can do it. Whose fault is it if Brits can't?

            >> and reducing the bloat that comes with much internet services these days.

            Your bloat is somebody else's lifeline. Like all other markets, telecom markets are mosaics of micro-segments.

        2. ChoHag Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: Not exactly

          Number of devices that need to be sent to the landfill and upgraded: 1000x increase per G.

          Just think how much plastic tat we can make obsolete by the time 7G gets going!

    5. Roland6 Silver badge

      >I haven't noticed 5G being any faster than 4G, what I have noticed though is better performance in congested urban areas.

      Which was the real purpose of 5G.

  5. xyz Silver badge

    Any money...

    I'll still be hanging out of a window trying to get a signal. It's the only constant there has ever been in my life!

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Any money...

      Piggybacking onto wifi for calls is probably the least well-known advantage of an all-IP stack. Of course, it's usually your wifi, but it is practical.

  6. s. pam Silver badge
    FAIL

    Can we just have 4G please -- working as advertised?

    We live in a small area in So. Bucks and we're sick and tired of "Oh, get a 5G chip and you'll be all right" nonsense! 4G here is a joke, as are the broadband providers insane bills so we would love to get to 4/5G and dump them, but the telcos only focus on the big towns to the detriment of smaller locales.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Can we just have 4G please -- working as advertised?

      telcos only focus on the big towns to the detriment of smaller locales.

      No they focus on the areas where the RoI is acceptable to their investors. There is no intended detriment to you or your neighbours.

      It's just that if they spend £100k on you they might only get £5k back every year. If they spend £100k on a large town they might get £5k back a month.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    5G, I’ve heard of it

    It’s not achievable where I live, despite the telcos coverage map.

    One bar of 4G is a typical day here.

    I’m talking about you Telstra.

  8. Crypto Monad Silver badge

    Wasted

    In the UK, network providers have been selling "unlimited(*)" 4G/5G packages as fixed-line broadband replacements, for stupid prices like £15 per month or less.

    It's not surprising that their available bandwidth has been swallowed up by a small number of users.

    Why are they doing this? Presumably out of desperation: they will accept a tiny amount of incremental revenue to show some sort of return on their 5G investments. But in doing so, they make 5G crap for the *real* use case of mobile broadband.

    (*) Some companies have a hidden "Fair Usage Policy" cap of around 1TB/month; reputedly Three has no FUP at all.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Wasted

      They do it because it's cheaper than renting line capacity from OpenLink. They know that they can control speeds, and hence use, at any time. Any network can offer unlimited at 64 kbps! ;-)

    2. ARGO

      Re: Wasted

      Networks are (in theory!) dimensioned for peak demand.

      Peak times for mobile and home use vary a bit by location but don't generally coincide.

      So aside from a small increase in power consumption and the cost of providing the router, it's effectively free money for the network.

      (Business use of wireless broadband would be a different matter of course, but the current offerings all seem to be consumer focused)

    3. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Wasted

      Confirming that using a Three unlimited SIM for home broadband works out pretty nicely.

      Sorry for swallowing all the local bandwidth.

  9. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    5G speed not just affected by signal

    Where I live (Clacton, UK), using EE and O2, no matter whether I’ve connected to 4G or 5G, I tend to get really crap speeds of around 5Mbps. This is even when I have full signal strength. Little point in having all this infrastructure when the backhaul is steam-driven!

    However, when I go to London, EE’s 5G really does shine a bit. I get speeds sometimes around 200Mbps which is more than enough. To me, this is proof that the concept works. In a presumably busy area (train station for example) getting any decent speed is what you’re after.

    Overall, what does get me is the variability. Even with a good signal, it doesn’t guarantee speed. And even when being in an obviously not-so-crowded location doesn’t help either.

    When travelling in the US last year, I noticed 5G signals almost everywhere, even remote locations. What was daft really was the fact that my mobile signal appeared to be proxied to an EE access point in the UK somewhere. This played havoc with navigation (no GPS meant I was instantly transported from Arizona to Berkshire somehow!) and finding my Apple AirTags proved interesting. It also didn’t do much for my internet speeds.

    1. ajsko29

      Re: 5G speed not just affected by signal

      When in roaming, you will always be tunneled back to your own Telco, that's how it's designed to work...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 5G speed not just affected by signal

        "When in roaming, you will always be tunneled back to your own Telco, that's how it's designed to work..."

        Except when it doesn't: local breakout (quite common for VoLTE/IMS for instance, but not only).

        1. ARGO

          Re: 5G speed not just affected by signal

          Generally local break out of VoLTE is only for emergency calls.

          Would be a bad idea to send those to another country, but as they use a separate APN it's easy to identify them.

          Pretty much everyone offering VoLTE roaming has implemented S8HR for normal calls.

          (S8 is the 3GPP interface that carries the traffic and "HR" stands for Home Routing.)

      2. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

        Re: 5G speed not just affected by signal

        Oh I did not know that. Does anyone know why?

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: 5G speed not just affected by signal

          I would guess that it's for tracking and billing because your provider will be responsible for charging you for billed usage and paying their partner network. Alternatively, it could be related to protection of your data so they can use networks you otherwise wouldn't trust, but I don't know whether their tunneling includes encryption or not. Both of these are guesses, though. I don't know if they are correct.

        2. ARGO

          Re: 5G speed not just affected by signal

          Mainly to simplify management and accounting (VAT is a particular problem).

          It does have some user benefits too, but those are more side effects than features that were designed for.

          A lot of traffic also passes through a central node on the way home to avoid the need for individual links between every network pair.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GPRS_roaming_exchange

  10. John Sager

    IoT

    The article mainly focusses on improved data rates and capacity, but one of the supposed benefits of 5G is use by IoT services using just a few carriers in the multiplex. This is enabled by an arcane spec change over 4G (carrier phase offsets) but I wonder just how many IoT providers are using or planning to use this feature?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pretty sure you can't change the laws of Physics...

    ...has there been some new discovery since 3G? The only reason 5G is faster than 4G is because not everyone has a 5G phone yet. Same with 4G vs 3G.

    The only thing that potentially would work is to put a cellphone mast every 100 yards (which is why home Wifi works).

    Honestly, Google and Apple should get together and kill off traditional telcos. If I pay for a subscription for a home broadband wifi router, I should be able to automatically use that subscription for unused bandwidth on anyone else's home broadband router (and vice versa). Just allocate 20% additional bandwidth for such a scheme and 6G is irrelevant.

    1. HISTSIZE=10000
      Thumb Down

      Re: Pretty sure you can't change the laws of Physics...

      >>> "...has there been some new discovery since 3G? The only reason 5G is faster than 4G is because not everyone has a 5G phone yet. Same with 4G vs 3G."

      Very bad (typical AC) comment. The laws of physics are immutable of course. Technology, which is how we leverage them to improve our lives, however improves regularly.

      There are more cars today than 100 years ago. And they are also faster. Why? Car technology (mobile devices) and road network (mobile networks) have improved. Keep your 3G bicycle if you want.

      5G spectral efficiency is better than 4G spectral efficiency, which improves on 3G spectral efficiency, which... etc.

      >>> Honestly, Google and Apple should get together and kill off traditional telcos.

      Look up ecosystem on... google.

      Google and Apple are just 2 US companies. There are well over 1000 telcos in the whole world, each of them striving to bring the best coverage to grumpy users like you. Not sure that's a chore Google and Apple want to get their hands dirty with. Not exactly the same return on equity ratio either. Very good recipe to send your stock crashing and CEOs fired.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Pretty sure you can't change the laws of Physics...

        The car analogy is particularly poor. Developments in automotive technology over the last century have been embarassingly slow and improvements have often been actively held back.

        1. ravenviz Silver badge

          Re: Pretty sure you can't change the laws of Physics...

          And as more cars get individually faster, more traffic gets wholly slower.

          But at least you can get the internet in your car, oh hang on!

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Pretty sure you can't change the laws of Physics...

      has there been some new discovery since 3G?

      Not "discovery" as such, but just the capability in cheap silicon to implement better error-correction and fancy beam-forming to make better use of the spectrum through spatial re-use and cancellation of reflections, etc. However, having the better capability on tap does not seem to translate in to good handling of poor signal situations, but I suspect that is a decision by the telcos/standard as to what is needed to sell it.

    3. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Silver badge

      Re: Pretty sure you can't change the laws of Physics...

      "If I pay for a subscription for a home broadband wifi router, I should be able to automatically use that subscription for unused bandwidth on anyone else's home broadband router"

      That's what BT have been doing for years here in the UK. A BT home router also pumps out a number of wi-fi networks with names like BT home hub, BT fon, openzone etc. that any other BT customer can use. Used to annoy me at home when lots of my neighbours were with BT and each router was pumping out at at least 3 WiFi networks, whilst I was struggling to find some spare channels I could safely put my own single wi-fi network on.

    4. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      Re: Pretty sure you can't change the laws of Physics...

      You don't understand what the different generations of mobile data technology are for. You don't understand how physics works. You don't understand how commerce works. You don't understand how wifi works. You don't understand the purpose of a mobile network.

      Simply put, there's a reason you're not in charge of a 5G network company. I do hope you don't work in anything to do with networking.

      - the different "G"s are different *evolutions* of technology. Each technology is an improvement on the previous technology. Each one has better spectral efficiency than the last. Each one has improvements in technology that increase the number of people able to simultaneously connect to a mast, and increase the speed of data transmission. Also, each one has other technological refinements such as ability to switch to/from wifi networks if needed/possible. And other things that I confess I don't understand or know. Each "G" uses things we've learnt about the physics involved in the intervening years, and things we weren't able to do because computing power has increased over the years.

      - Physics stays the same, but what we are able to do with it improves. That's why and how new inventions happen. Physics was the same in 1850. And yet we didn't have electric motors, electric light, TV or radio for some reason.

      - Commerce works by selling something that there is demand for. In the case of Apple and Google, they won't collaborate on something so big because they would want the entire pie for themselves. Mobile networks need to be robust. Wifi has a limited range, so relying on other people's routers for service is crazy. It might be *nice to have* but it's certainly not practical to rely on. BT has tried this concept with their "BT FON" service which has been around for over a decade. Useful when there was no mobile network and you happened to be in someone else's house. And when you were happy with any bandwidth at all even if it was 500kbps. FON is a useless BT 'feature' at best nowadays.

      - wifi works by having a very low power router in people's houses. It isn't long-range enough and the broadband isn't robust enough to rely on for a mobile network.

      - the purpose of a mobile network is to provide consistent, reliable service. Relying on people's houses is not going to do that. We have the tech to provide service near where people live through masts, and we're going to need masts to fill in the gaps so why bother?

      And why do you say you 'should be able to automatically use that subscription for unused bandwidth on anyone else's home broadband router'? Why shouldn't you have to pay for that? and even if you didn't pay, what use is it? It's not a commercial service - it's a freebie thing that's maybe useful on the rare times you're in range of a decent signal.

      All in all your comment shows a total lack of understanding of what's involved, where the tech came from and where it's going. Read up on this stuff before posting next time, or at least frame it as a question from a relative newbie and then you won't get sarcastic replies like mine.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "FON is a useless BT 'feature' at best nowadays."

        "FON is a useless BT 'feature' at best nowadays."

        Really? Your comment apparently shows a lack of understanding of what's out there, do you perhaps work for BT (or EE) or its associates? [joke alert?]

        In the various places I go (around the UK), I frequently see FON's logical successors as being availabl. Mind you, whether they're useful or not is still a fair question, as with many BT or EE product or service offerings. AFAIK these particular services are not intended for *mobile* use - e.g. they can't be relied on for hassle free handover between boxes. But then real mobiles often don't manage that either.

        https://fon.com/bt-wifi-with-fon-rebranding/

      2. ravenviz Silver badge

        Re: Pretty sure you can't change the laws of Physics...

        G just means Generation.

      3. Dagg Silver badge

        Re: Pretty sure you can't change the laws of Physics...

        Mobile networks need to be robust.

        The issue in Oz is the higher the G number the less robust and the less available. It is good if you live inner city, but once you get out into the bush; forget it!

    5. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Pretty sure you can't change the laws of Physics...

      The laws of physics don't change. That's why your radio receives one channel, just Morse code. After all, the first radio experiments worked that way, and the physics isn't any different today. The advantages are in our more efficient use of the laws of physics. Instead of using all frequencies, we limit to a smaller band. Instead of using analog data, we use digital data which can be more tightly packed. Some of the changes are redesigns like that, whereas others are simply improvements in manufacturing technology allowing transmitters to use less bandwidth while not getting prohibitively expensive. The laws of physics say such things as how much power your signal will have based on the distance and items between the receiver and transmitter, that is unless you use other physics hacks like finding a way to reflect it, but those laws say nothing about how low the power level can get before your receiver can no longer use it, let alone how many bits per second you can manage to shove in there. That's down to your tools, and those do change.

      As for WiFi, you can have that. Lots of countries have some ISP who came up with this idea and has a public access method. Find which ones do that in your country, they probably exist, and sign up for an account. Congratulations, you have WiFi access from the house of anyone who has the same ISP and didn't change the settings on the supplied equipment. It doesn't work for people like me who buy my own equipment and configure it myself, but my neighbors have these, so you'll have coverage. That is you'll have coverage when you're near someone else's house, but I spend no effort making sure my WiFi coverage extends outside those walls very far. If you're in the street near a house, you'll probably have something, but if you're in a more open space, you won't. The same applies if you're moving between these access points. Most importantly, there are a lot of places without houses where you won't have any APs to connect to at all, and if you want the internet there, you'll need something that has better coverage than home WiFi.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pretty sure you can't change the laws of Physics...

        "how much power your signal will have based on the distance and items between the receiver and transmitter, that is unless you use other physics hacks like finding a way to reflect it, but those laws say nothing about how low the power level can get before your receiver can no longer use it,"

        Actually there's something called thermal noise or shot noise or whatever which sets an ultimate physics-based limit on whether a useful signal can be received.

        If some level of error tolerance is needed, the bandwidth efficiency is reduced, and the latency gets worse.

        If some level of error *recovery* is needed, efficiency and latency are hit even more.

        Sometimes it doesn't matter much. Other times...

        TANSTAAFL.

        There's no avoiding mr shannon and his mate Digital Cliff.

    6. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: Pretty sure you can't change the laws of Physics...

      Google as the only telco?

      Son - Hi Ma, how ya doing?

      Ma - I'm fine, sonny boy, I'm baking a cake for your visit!

      Google - Cake mix, 99 cents at your local grocer!

      Son - That's great Ma, we'll be driving up this weekend.

      Google - Have you driven a Ford, lately!

      Ma - You be careful! I'll have clean sheets on the bed for you!

      Google - Serta makes the best mattresses, now on sale!

      Son - OK Ma, we'll see you later! Bye!

      Google - Serta King size mattress purchased!

  12. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    All this speed

    and yet it still takes my phone a measured 35 seconds to go from hitting the phone icon to it asking me which sim card I'd like to use...

  13. Paul 87

    They'd be better off working out how to take all the legacy equipment and optimise it's use. Could all that 3G gear be repurposed to ensure that low bandwidth traffic like SMS and Push notifications for OTP are routed via the legacy equipement which is more than capable of supporting them, whilst the more intensive content is routed via the 4G or 5G network as appropriate.

    It wouldn't be impossible to have a device or chipset which load balanced the traffic appropriately over the correct network option.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The 3G network is hugely inefficient in many ways and that's why all four UK network operators are jettisoning it within the next year or two. No amount of lipstick on a pig will help.

      2G will remain for legacy "IoT" needs and those who are still using old Nokia dumb phones, while extensions to the 4G network such as NB-IoT, LTE-M are currently the preferred choice for new IoT applications.

      If you don't have a 4G handset by now, you've had, oh, 10 years to get one. You can even get LTE dumbphones now (more for VoLTE / 4G calling than data capabilities)

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "They'd be better off working out how to take all the legacy equipment and optimise it's use. "

      A lot of it goes to third world countries along with handsets that are obsolete yet still perfectly functional. A village can install the gear for very little money, give away the phones and boost from zero tech for a tiny price. It's a much bigger step than going from 4G to 5G to 6G and beyond.

  14. heyrick Silver badge

    It's okay, I've had my booster shot so I'm 6G-ready. ;)

    <ducks>

    That being said, I live rural and I can get reasonable 4G standing in the middle of a field. In the house, it's rare that I get anything better than EDGE (which barely works any more and blocks the phone in favour of data). At work in a town, 4G works, but that's after the phone (with only one bar of signal) has taken half a minute to decide whether it wants to run as 4G or 4G+. 5G? Never seen that. I doubt I will. Ditto 6G.

    Given the 2G system is due to be switched off soonish, how about decent universal 4G coverage before worrying about other G numbers?

    1. HISTSIZE=10000
      Facepalm

      You: "I don't want your Range Rover: start getting my Austin Allegro above 100mph!!!"

      Well, precisely. 5G should be better than 4G.

      4G usually does not use massive MIMO antennas (they can in theory). Massive MIMO antennas are able to focus the power on your location and give your more db for the same power. Even better, they will also "listen better" to your weak and remote upload signal (and signaling channels).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I would be surprised if any telco, anywhere, guarantees indoor coverage, as it's completely outside of their control. You have it outside and that's what they aim for. WiFi calling covers the rest.

      If you are the person with the namesake website - a rural farmhouse in France with thick stone walls is perhaps not a good example of an urgent coverage blackspot!

      As a general rule, anyone who says "4G is crap" should probably check that 4G calling/VoLTE is enabled. Some networks don't enable full 4G coverage unless this is done because they do not want you to be in a position where you think you have coverage but it's 4G only and cannot actually make a call. One plus point for Apple as all iPhones since the 6 support it on virtually every network, but Android support is much spottier and complicated.

    3. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      It's cheaper and more efficient to make 5G work in more locations than making 4G universal. That's the point of 5G. And part of 5G is utilising 4G when needed.

  15. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

    German situation...

    mostly 3G. 4G / LTE spotty, you have to know where.

    Whats 5G? Oh, those few thousand (barely two digit thousand) towers spread all across Germany! Main 5G usage here are campus networks. Beyond that we lack thanks to weird regulations and Ms. Merkel being behind 20 years what speed was considered as normal minimum in 2013 with her famous "Neuland" remark. And I consider her the lighthouse of modernity within her party! And now they talk about 6G where 5G is just starting here and 4G/LTE is common. You cannot imagine how often I see "E" = Edge on my phone in "modern advanced Germany".

    1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: German situation...

      It is rumored that in Bielefeld there is already 7G coverage.

  16. VicMortimer Silver badge

    It's not that we don't need 6G.

    It's that we don't need 5G.

    Seriously. I don't need faster data on my phone than I have now, and I'm still using a 4G phone. 3G was a bit slow, but completely usable until it was prematurely turned off.

    I need fast internet - on a computer. But it's pointless on a phone. I have no need or desire for Advertising Reality (you know that's what AR really stands for, right?) to exist at all.

    1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

      Re: It's not that we don't need 6G.

      Maybe you don't need it, but there are plenty of applications that do. I mean I don't NEED it most of the time as I work from home most of the time. But I do realise that plenty of people need connectivity when they're out and about, and you can be out and about with a computer of course.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's not that we don't need 6G.

        Yeah. From the rants and the down-votes, you could be forgiven to suspect that El Reg counts many readers from the Amish community. Who cares? 5G is there. Totally prevalent in China, India and the USA. 6G will come next, hard on its heals. You can count on the Next G Alliance and other standardization bodies to steam ahead. By resisting the change in Britain, a handful of [Igno]rants drifting on some misty North Atlantic island are just making sure they stay irrelevant on the global chessboard. Their call.

      2. ravenviz Silver badge

        Re: It's not that we don't need 6G.

        The use cases I see for fast connectivity services are people idiotically streaming rubbish on the train.

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: It's not that we don't need 6G.

        If you need the higher data rates, you really need to be using something other than a phone as your router, plus you need to look at the details of your mobile contract as that will typically have a speed cap.

  17. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    I'm glad a commenter above says 2G is staying

    Yes, 4G can be good - the 1pmobile (EE) 4G dongle Internet backup I use had a faster upload than my FTTC broadband when I gave it a quick test! (3 via Smarty, on the other hand, had an unmeasurable upload indoors).

    However, I only have to walk a short distance to the train station to see a drop to HSDPA among a considerable portion of the track, and a similar run to the countryside sees a signal that is just about usable for SMS and possibly voice, but a complete non starter for Internet.

    1. VicMortimer Silver badge

      Re: I'm glad a commenter above says 2G is staying

      2G Staying?

      2G has been gone for years in the US. All the carriers shut it down, broke a bunch of stuff. Ford put a new modem in my car, as a freebie. Then they shut down 3G a few years ago. Ford wanted money for a 4G modem, I realized that having my car online was a bad idea anyway, so I declined.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm glad a commenter above says 2G is staying

      If it's a dongle, then it likely doesn't have full access to the EE 4G network as it does not support voice over LTE. It doesn't seem to matter whether or not it can make a phone call. (depending on the age of the dongle it may not support all available 4G bands too)

      I see it myself on the train, where my phone is on 4G but my iPad moves down to 3G.

      Put that SIM into a phone, turn on 4G calling, and I'd expect you'd see a drastically different result.

      Vic - yes, in the UK, 2G is not going anywhere until the 2030s. It doesn't have the same efficiency/operational issues that 3G has and there is a bigger business case for keeping a token amount of 2G capacity available. Especially for O2 who have the energy smart meter contract.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: I'm glad a commenter above says 2G is staying

        In the case of the train or the West Pennine Moors it's a normal (Giffgaff/O2) SIM in a phone. The coverage checker says it is 'fine outdoors' but that simply isn't the case. It's the same with multiple phones, although none of them are 5G capable.

        Possibly worth trying a different network I suppose, but outside those areas coverage is generally OK. Maybe I'll give it a go with EE/1pmobile, seeing as the coverage inside my house is outstanding.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm glad a commenter above says 2G is staying

          TBF trains - especially the ones with "thermally efficient" windows - are a nightmare for radio signals.

          A lot of the time I find coverage is fine on the platform but disappears as soon as I get into the Faraday tube on wheels.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: I'm glad a commenter above says 2G is staying

        >If it's a dongle, then it likely doesn't have full access to the EE 4G network as it does not support voice over LTE.

        If it is an EE branded device which the manufacturers specification includes VoLTE (eg. Alcatel 3T), you need to check the EE specifications - if EE do not say it has VoLTE, assume EE have used firmware that does not include the VoLTE capability...

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: I'm glad a commenter above says 2G is staying

      Most 2G spectrum was reallocated to 4G in most countries a while ago. Emergency services might still use it, but that's about it.

  18. mark l 2 Silver badge

    "On the connectivity side, Nokia believes wireless networks will eventually replace wired connectivity, even in enterprise and industrial sectors, which may place greater demands on them to support all those devices. For this reason, the plans are for 6G to support 10 times more connected devices than 5G, Vetter said."

    I call BS Nokia marketing on wireless completely replacing wired networks, I can actually achieve the speeds as advertised over Ethernet unlike the up to theoretical speeds you can get over wireless if all the planets are lined up in the right positions.

    1. Pete Sdev Bronze badge

      For rural areas it would be cheaper and quicker to throw up a couple of 5G towers than laying the necessary cable.

      Even in urban areas a 6G tower is probably less hassle than digging up the road to upgrade the cables.

      I think Nokia are exaggerating in their prediction but they may well have a point.

  19. Grogan Silver badge

    Where I live,Ontario Canada, mobile data is still somewhat expensive (especially if you exceed your cap, per megabyte) so you tend to use it judiciously. On a shared family plan, I didn't know that it was all used up mid month. I was at a house with an unworkable ADSL connection it was barely fluid enough for the kid to play his Call of Duty game. I had to download about 600 Mb of HP shitware, graphics drivers etc. So I fucking "hotspot" tethered. I'm soon getting push notifications that I'm over the bandwidth limit. I spent a lot of time screwing around at that house and only billed $100. The bandwidth overage cost me $82. That was probably 2005'ish I reckon. Bandwidth plans are larger than that now, but it's still somewhat prohibitive.

    I think we have a lot more (still shared data) on "Fido" now, but I'd have to check. I'm not the one that signed us up for that one, but good deal. I still only use it in emergencies (e.g. I need information or I have to attend to something where there's no wifi). I keep it turned off until I need it, partly because I don't want SMS attachments downloading.

  20. DevOpsTimothyC

    Perhaps if we were all on the same page...

    It would help if we were all talking about the same thing rather terms being usurped and used for wildly different things.

    Speak to the person in the street about 5G mobile phone networks and the response will probably be something about new handsets operating on different frequencies with more bandwidth. They might even throw in tidbits about cell sizes getting smaller in urban areas to increase capacity.

    Speak to engineers or CEO's of mobile phone networks and you'll probably be told about how a 5G network is containerised and all the other elements that are changing in the core.

    Then you look at the marketing and see things like "Fully 5G network". Which conveniently doesn't explain what the term means... It's both at once.

    Even this article doesn't make it clear in some paragraphs referencing the network core and some referencing the handsets and bandwidth.

    So back to the point... How about using different terms for the edge (frequencies, handsets etc, and the core systems);so people can follow what parts are meant and in scope.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Perhaps if we were all on the same page...

      > "Speak to the person in the street about 5G mobile phone networks and the response will probably be something about new handsets operating on different frequencies with more bandwidth. They might even throw in tidbits about cell sizes getting smaller in urban areas to increase capacity."

      That's no street in the UK.

      The response here from the typical person in the street would be about government mind control, or covid distribution. At best, you might get someone say it's all a ploy to make us buy new phones.

  21. snapdragon

    Echoing the other comments, I noticed a degrade in mobile data usability with 5G and have disabled it in settings in favour of 4G and periodically re-evaluate 5G to no avail.

  22. Jumbotron64

    The Dark Knight ?

    Hmmm....turning cellular base stations into radars ? 1 meter accuracy location for people ? All those radio waves in the air ?

    Did we not see this in 2008's "The Dark Knight" ?

    Between even today's GPS, plus sub meter location accuracy of Bluetooth 5.x, and now what's been "hacked" for research purposes on existing 5G infrastructure much less 6G, ( think Geofencing to a WHOLE new level ), not to mention 6G enabled cameras.....

    Well...I'll leave that up to your imagination.

  23. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Silver badge

    Who's really driving the bandwidth demand?

    "This is an important research question because we can see mobile traffic going up over the next decade by a factor of 10 or even a factor of 20. So if we don't do anything, the power consumption of the base station will go up by a factor of 10 or 20,"

    I wonder how much of that is driven by the operators touting faster networks in the pursuit of profits, rather than genuine consumer-led demand. Probably tied in with the handset manufacturers needing to make and sell "better" handsets year on year to keep shareholders happy.

    1. HISTSIZE=10000

      Re: Who's really driving the bandwidth demand?

      Well, screen resolution increases. Networks support higher Fps too. Video casting apps propose a lot of content. So, video is the main reason behind this increase. Today, video content accounts for around 75% of data traffic (market dependent).

      Videoconf apps are becoming quite common and cannot buffer, putting even more bandwidth and capacity demands on the network (especially if you don't slice your network).

      Today, ~20% of gaming sessions take place on mobile and the forecast is that this will increase significantly in 5G.

      In markets where "unlimited" plans are common, operators might actually be trying to rein in the demand (and introduce speed tier plans for that very reason). For these "unlimited" markets, the explosion of data demand is becoming a liability.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Who's really driving the bandwidth demand?

      Not only is there significant increase in demand from more people watching more video on their phones, but there are also more people using the networks for other devices as speeds increase. When my network went down, I still had to work and didn't want to go into the office, so I used my phone to tether my work computer. It worked pretty well. With a lot of people doing things like that, some of them will wonder about whether they need wired internet when they're already paying for this, so some people may shift even more traffic to those networks as they cancel expensive ISP contracts. I wouldn't want to do that, but with my usage, it would probably at least somewhat work. Bandwidth demand has been increasing for a long time over both wired and wireless connections. I'm not surprised to see projections that it will continue to do so.

  24. Snowy Silver badge
    Facepalm

    5G

    Was over promised and under delivered! 6G is looking like it will do the same.

  25. Pete Sdev Bronze badge

    Parkinson's law Corollary

    "Data expands to fill the space available for storage"

    in networking becomes data expands to fill the bandwidth available.

  26. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

    Oh FFS roll out current gen first before trying to con us again

    Look... I've literally... and I do mean literally, in the last few months got access to a 5G signal in spite of having a 5G phones for the last 4yrs.

    Why you might wonder.

    Because I was using a shitty provider (giffgaff) who used the backend services of another shitty provider. I lived in a large city until Sept 2022 and could get a reasonable 4G signal over most of the city.

    Then I moved to a small town near the coast of North Wales... I couldn't even get a signal in town, let alone a decent one anywhere else within 20 miles.

    So I did some proper checking out of service providers and found that they only one that had a decent signal in my entire area was EE.

    So then begins the hunt for a sim only deal from some one who uses EE's backend services and actually offers the whole spectrum and not part of it... Because there are some out there who can't give you a proper service whilst using the same providers.

    What did I end up with.

    1pmobile... I kid you not. The cheapest, most basic sim only service around gives you the best deal and the best service.

    £10 a month, unltd calls/txts and 25GB data and a full 5G signal everywhere I go, and a decent 4G one outside of towns/villages. I can finally walk down into town and not hit a phone dead zone.

    So FFS... before you start adding tens of thousands more towers and repeaters... how about you... I don't know... ROLL OUT 5G Properly you utter cunts!!! Hell, even a decent 4G rollout to the whole country would be a good place to fucking start.

  27. Nifty Silver badge

    No one's so far mentioned that Musk is claiming he'll be offering satellite to LTE handset comms for wilderness areas. Seems scarcely believable.

    https://www.telecoms.com/telecoms-infrastructure/starlink-indicates-its-satellite-to-phone-service-will-drop-next-year

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  28. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Lucky me

    I have never found being buried neck deep in my phone brings me any more business, more pleasure in life or anything at all, really. When ever I turn on Data to pull up a map to find a local post office or eatery, I get the info and kill the connection. I've got an office with several desktops and big monitors that facilitate doing things much easier than trying to work through a widdle biddy screen and touch controls that often aren't accurate so I spend time backtracking. I think a big part of this is I grew up in the real world vs. a virtual one so I'm usually head's up and looking at things when I'm out and about. I've also been working to keep from using the phone as a time killer by keeping a small notebook around to get on with writing, sketching and getting ideas down on paper. I can do all of that faster in analog than to try and use a phone. The changes in data speeds has little effect on my personal life up close. I do see commercial applications that benefit me, but I'm not sure that the arguments to add more bandwidth are anything more than telcos needing ways to extract more money from people as they big growth ramp of users is over. Now they need to upsell whether that adds any value or not, as long as it adds revenue and profits.

    Let the downvotes commence!

    1. Dagg Silver badge

      Re: Lucky me

      With me my phone spends a lot of time in flight mode especially at night so I can't be disturbed. It has gotten to the point that you are getting spam/fraud messages/call 24/7. And I do like my peace and quiet.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Lucky me

        Lordy knows what kind of browsing/calling habits are resulting in you being pestered 24/7/52. I can't remember the last time I had any kind of spam on my phone. And anyway my phone has quiet hours functionality. Only friends and family can disturb me between 2300 and 0800.

        Although I do still pine for the days when I could activate airplane mode during those hours automatically. Would save quite a bit of battery life.

        1. Dagg Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Lucky me

          Lucky you! Here in Oz we get a lot of fraud messages. And it has nothing to do with browsing habits or anything else. They just spam SMS to a random list of mobile phone numbers.

          • Things like your australia post delivery has (failed/package is damaged/incomplete or invalid address) etc.
          • Messages from the local toll road provider to say there is a problem with your (non-existent account)
          • From your local power company about power outages.

          And of course these all contain a link you need to click on. There have been times when these are coming every couple of hours 24/7. That is why I ended up putting my phone onto flight mode.

  29. martinusher Silver badge

    All this to enable an unwanted and ultimately unsustainable advertising ecosystem

    Says it all, really. Its why existing 'Gs' are abit hit and miss - once the phone ceased to be primarily a communication tool and became a spyware/advertising platform with part time communications duties nothing works that well. Adding 'more of the same' won't fix it.

    Then there's politics........

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. xyz123 Silver badge

      Thats why you use it for "speed zones" in mcdonalds/starbucks etc. they'd fund part of the rollout that way, installing 5.5G low-range areas in their stores.

      You go in, order food/coffee and have a very fast download connection.

  31. xyz123 Silver badge

    Could fund 1/2 of this by having "mini" 5.5G antenna in Starbucks etc. You go in, you get better cell reception/speed even outside of their wifi, all for the price of a coffee.

  32. CheesyTheClown

    XR uses less bandwidth, not more

    As a codec developer, let me point out that a proper XR codec which has access to depth data can handle motion vectors substantially better than 2D.

    XR doesn’t have to transmit stereo video. In fact, it’s silly to do so as it would limit the receiver of the stream to only the angle of view of the two cameras.

    Rather, XR will transmit scenes created via photogrammetry where frame to frame, motion vectors will move vertices but textures will remain mostly the same. For the most part, from frame to frame, static scenes will remain mostly unchanged. Objects in motion will be transmitted as additional texture data which will only include data not previously observed and transmitted.

    Scene changes similar in 3D to what was an I-Frame in 2D will be very data intensive and most likely will require buffering. But the 3D version of P and B data will be considerably smaller than its 2D counterparts.

    But, these are all things we don’t like thinking about because it would suggest 6G isn’t needed for XR.

  33. ecofeco Silver badge

    LOL wut?

    I've not even switched to 5G yet.

    But sure, keep that planned obsolescence churn for profit train rolling. We're all made out of money, right? And we run out, we can just die on the ditch as our lord god Mammon degreed.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: LOL wut?

      Damn allergies.

      "...IN the ditch..." "...decreed."

  34. ideapete
    Headmaster

    Usability

    As speeds increase it changes how people use systems and that opens the Usability can worms .

    Unless the carriers and designers understand this ( go see Don Norman ) its a fast dump to nowhere

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  35. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Fantasy-land

    Ahh the telecoms and vendors are off in fantasy land again.

    For 3G, and 4G, and 5G, and now 6G, they have this fantasy that factories and such will rip out their wifi and ethernet, and pay a telecom per device to hook up to 6G networks.

    Of course I would do this.. why wouldn't I remove an already installed, highly reliable and available network* with installing ethernet to 6G bridges on each and every device (or buying new devices with 6G in them), then paying a telecom per-device for whatever service you happen to get, subject to getting adequate signal strength? That's definitely a sensible thing and not a totally ridiculous fantasy on the part of the telecom vendors.

    I also question this assumption that mobile phone usage will constantly increase -- they did find in Japan, once people started getting gpbs speeds (not mobile, but still) that past some point usage did NOT keep going up and up -- after all, if you're streaming 4K video 24/7, there's nowhere to go from there that's going to magically use even more bandwidth. Compared to a few years ago, more widespread use of H.265 versus H.264 or MPEG4 or god forbid MPEG2 (plus some streaming providers letting the picture quality go to hell compared to a few years ago...) also means less bandwidth used for the streaming people are doing whether it's 4K or some 640x480 SD-style stream. Even their people running bittorrent 24/7, the torrents would finish, they'd share with everyone who wanted a copy -- pretty quicklly at those higher internet speeds -- and usage plateaued.

  36. Slipoch

    Given the issues with the distance and SNR degradation of 5g, in Australia it doesn't make much sense, even for 5g let alone higher frequency 6g.

    To give an idea of the problems, we would need 3-5 towers to cover the main parts of our small town (technically a city) which only has ~25k people total (prolly 5-10k in the coverage area), so it really doesn't bode well as our telcos are switching off 3g (only connection for some), 2g got switched off ages ago and those bandwidths were never re-used except in very small pockets.

    I can only see 5g making headway in the cities, 6g, well it would want a greater range and more reliable connection than 5g.

  37. Zenith1

    Finish 4G

    I honestly don't understand telephone companies. What they should do which is more than perfect for the UK is invest in completing the 4G network across 100% of the country and increase the Bandwidth. It will be another 20 years before we even need 5G bandwidth speeds. (If ever).

    Theoretical Maximum 4G:

    The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) standardized 4G's capacity to allow for "highly mobile data," with download speeds of up to 1 Gigabits per second (Gbps) and upload speeds of 150 Megabits per second (Mbps). However, these speeds are rarely achieved in real-world conditions.

    Based on this information, just invest in finishing and improving the 4G network !!.

  38. Grunchy Silver badge

    I’m not buying any new phone

    Here in Canada the 3G shutdown is postponed until Dec 2025.

    Meanwhile, I found out I can easily just pay $40 and get a 4G wi-fi hotspot. This is perfect for me because I don’t pay for any cellular plan anyway: instead, I pay for a tablet data plan. Not only is it much cheaper, but I can get all the same utility with VOIP and SMS alternatives to “normal” cellphone functions.

    Now I can skip the whole nonsense of providers trying to force my legacy equipment offline, by attacking my 3G radio.

    Ok, suit yourself. Now I’ve got a 4G hotspot, and there’s nothing anybody can do to stop me!

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