By Don Bishop….
Oh, the headache. The misery. The woe and..wait a minute. How does the old saying go? Out of disaster comes opportunity? Something like that.
How does it feel over at the headquarters of Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility, Sprint PCS and T-Mobile USA, to name a few U.S. wireless network operators, to learn of South Korea’s plan to upgrade to 5G cellular service by 2020? Headachy? Exhilarating?
U.S. wireless network operators are spending billions of dollars to upgrade their networks from 3G to 4G cellular, and already the specter — or opportunity — of 5G service is looming. As early as 2008, South Korea formed a research and development program looking into 5G service using beam-division multiple access technology. A few days ago, news broke that the country plans to spend $1.5 billion on 5G upgrades.
What’s the difference? 5G will be 1,000 times faster than 4G. An example the country’s science ministry gave said an 800-megabit movie that takes 40 seconds to download on 4G would take 1 second on 5G.
“We helped fuel national growth with 2G services in the 1990s, 3G in the 2000s and 4G around 2010,” a statement from the ministry said. “Now it is time to take preemptive action to develop 5G. Countries in Europe, China and the United States are making aggressive efforts to develop 5G technology … and we believe there will be fierce competition in this market in a few years.”
If it costs $1.5 billion for 5G in South Korea, what would it cost in the United States? The United States has six times the population. On that basis, $9 billion. The United States has 100 times the land area. On that basis, $150 billion. Probably somewhere in between.
How much will 6G cost? A trillion dollars?
South Korea has a 4.4 percent share of the world’s telecom infrastructure business. With 5G, the ministry said the country seeks a 20 percent share of the business by 2020. Within South Korea, Trial 5G service will start rolling out in 2017, with commercial availability in 2020.
A key to 5G lies in the use of millimeter-wave frequency bands with mobile devices, frequencies with tiny, tiny wavelengths. Something so small leading to something so big.
Don Bishop is Executive Editor and Associate Publisher of AGL magazine