July 25, 2017 —
Recently, an event was staged by some industry players to showcase what has been called gigabit LTE. None of us believe we will ever see that, simply because the gigabit limit is the absolute maximum theoretical speed that can ever be hoped to achieve on LTE. And we all know that theoretical is just that – theoretical.
Still the numbers are decent. Using three carrier aggregation, 256-QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) and a 4×4 MIMO antenna scheme, it peaked at just about 800 Mbps, best case. But of course, that is in a highly bounded, controlled environment and optimized setup.
With that number as the bar, what would one expect real-world scenarios to average out at somewhat less. Well most experts in the field (and a couple of my own friends in the biz) seem to think that, realistically, one can expect between 300 and 500 Mbps on the download as a rule.
That makes more sense. In the years I have been in technology, I have NEVER hit the theoretical maximum (without frying something). There are just too many variable links in the chain. And there are any number of variables for the variables.
But what is interesting is how one of the players (Qualcomm) spun it. Roberto Di Pietro, VP of Biz Dev at Qualcomm took the opportunity to promote this as the “first major step towards 5G.” Well, here we go again. Real world speeds of 300+ Mbps are not even near the gigabit speed that is supposed to be 5G. This is simply another incremental step in getting decent bandwidth and bit rates into the 5G platform in one of many components.
And this is hardly the “first major step” towards 5G. Daily, vendors make announcements that they have developed technology that is in the near-5G or pre-5G, or 5G-like. Really, this kind of step technology is simply improving the elements that will, eventually, make up the 5G ecosystem. As time passes, technological improvements will continue to up the ante until they come into the 5G ring, as a component of 5G.
Everybody wants to be on the bleeding edge. I get that. And it is good for the industry to promote what advancements are being put forth in the race to 5G. But 5G isn’t just about speeds, bandwidth and latency. It is about an intelligent, seamless, wireless infrastructure that connects everybody and everything, anytime and anywhere. LTE will be a significant player in that. But it won’t be the end-all and be-all of 5G. There is so much more yet to come.