"5G" is The Donald Trump of Telecom
5G is the hottest topic in wireless circles, so I spent some time researching it. I chased articles everywhere, reading the best available information and insights. And while I can never get those hours back, I can save you the trouble, because contrary to scores of explanations of what 5G is, here's what I found.
5G is nothing.
At best, it's a set of superlatives in want of a plan. "5G" is going to be: Great! Awesome! Amazing! And there's a special school somewhere that's passing out phrases like, "orders of magnitude" and "empowering the IoT", "enabling technologies never before imagined", blah, blah, blah, "millimeter wave", and yeah, don't forget "densification". It's all about densification. The phrases are so predictable that I'm launching a Mad Libs app so you can plug and chug them with alacrity, and give speeches about 5G all day long.
While hours of reading and research netted me nothing, the reverse is true for telco CEOs, their lobbyists and pundits. Investors are paying them fortunes for assurances that their horse is best positioned in the 5G race. CEOs are stepping it up too, talking about "5G trials", "field tests" and "preparing for the rollout".
Meanwhile there seems to be universal consensus that 5G deployment will start in 2020. I don't know how we have a date without a plan, but I'll leave it at that and refer you to a great post by Frank Rayal, "Will 5G be the Last 'G'?", which includes a couple of timelines. For now, about the only thing we know about 5G, is that 5 comes after 4.
But here's what's really interesting.
While so many are saying so much about so little, there's epic news going on right now in a different area of wireless tech ("fixed wireless broadband"). In fact, it's being referred to as a "wireless renaissance".
Wireless price/performance has recently reached the sweet spot where high-speed internet can be beamed into people's homes, giving them faster, more economical internet, and that's huge. Consumers will finally have a competitive choice to cable TV, and communities stranded by the side of the internet highway might finally get connected.
This isn't something for 2020. The wave of deployment is already happening. It's coming first by entrepreneurial wireless internet service providers (WISPs). One such business, Webpass, boasts 20,000 home subscribers and they're so successful that Google bought them. Many others will follow. Do you doubt there's a good business there?
Innovative wireless vendors, mainly out of Silicon Valley, are changing everything; doing things with wireless that seem to defy the laws of physics. Before 5G "rolls out" in 2020, Google and Facebook will likely be beaming internet to another two billion people. I'll be writing a lot about this, so if this is a topic of interest for you, connect with me here and let's talk.
Tell me what you think, and for more on telecom's version of "The Emperor's New Clothes", read "5G Sucks" by Steven Heinsius, and check out my earlier post, "Today's Wireless Renaissance is Bringing Faster, Cheaper Internet–Everywhere".
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