I sometimes wonder if my audience gets tired of hearing my latest dog-with-a-bone focus on race to be first in 5G. I have not heard anybody tell me to shut up yet, and I get a kick out of talking about it, as long as my tong-in-cheek diatribes contain some informative, useful, and enlightening industry data, as well.
In my missive of July 9th (https://www.aglmediagroup.com/andwe-have-the-5g-winner/), I discussed that Elisa has been called the winner of the race for 5G. Since then I have heard the noise, over who is first in 5G, abate somewhat. However, I knew it would not last. I had said that I would wager a year’s pay that the industry would not stop the embellishment. There for a moment, I was thinking I would have to cough up a year’s pay.
Then I saw this in a feed from telecoms.com – a story about Singtel and Ericsson boasting about another 5G “first.” Following the headline was this: “While press statements claiming a ‘first’ in 5G are becoming somewhat repetitive, Singtel and Ericsson have paired up to milk the increasingly tiresome claim once more.” In another blog, from CTIA, I read the following, “This Week in 5G: We’re Off to the 5G Races.”
It is nice to see that I am not the only one tired of hearing about 5G firsts, and willing to not be namby-pamby about it. I am also disappointed that CTIA keeps perpetuating the hype. If enough of us talk about this, maybe the industry, and its media, will stop the endless 5G first diatribes and focus on the race that is really important – the one for best in class.
That is the real “race,” IMHO. While I have heard some companies be verbose about 5G components (Qualcomm is a prime example. Their latest offering is a 5G NR mmWave and sub-6 GHz RF modules for smartphones and a mmWave antenna module family) I have not really heard much about components (or devices) hitting the best in class numbers.
For example, the number I often hear, when it comes to 5G latency, is 20 ms or so. The other number I often hear is about speed and seems to be 1 GHz. However, they all come with the disclaimer “up to.” This AT&T announcement is a prime example, “Our foundational 5G Evolution technology….enable peak theoretical wireless speeds of at least 400 megabits per second on capable devices.” Then there is the footnote, “actual speeds are lower and will vary.” I discussed this in a recent missive if further details interest the reader.
The same is true for latency. The 5G specs call for 20 Gbps and 4 ms latency with 1 ms for ultra-reliable applications. Of course, different platforms (Internet of Everything/Everyone (IoX), First responder, military, smartphones, etc.) all have differing requirements.
LTE-Advanced meets (or has the potential to meet) this spec. LTE-A can, theoretically, achieve data download rates as high as 3 Gbps per second and upload rates as high as 1.5 Gbps, as well as latency numbers of 9 ms today, and they are predicting 2 ms next year (and just wait for LTE-B).
So far, I have not seen any real-world applications that meet the best numbers, but those numbers, certainly, bump up against the entry-level 5G specs. However, I do hear of many “theoretical” cases that claim such performance in test and tightly bounded environments is possible, be it 4G or 5G.
This brings me to the best in class race. IMHO, this is where the money should go and not to win the first in 5G race.
Best in class is also a march – not a race. There are tons of different applications that will need a plethora of various equipment. There should be plenty of opportunity to develop best-in-class devices and product across the industry.
Best in class is what makes 5G, real 5G. The minimum spec is barely the entry point and is being hit with current 4G LTE advanced technology (and there is bandwidth to spare). The real test will come with, or better than, 100 gig speeds and 100 nanoseconds, or less, latency – that will be the real 5G (or maybe we’ll call that 6G, the stuff that didn’t make it into 5G). China is already on that, a few months ago, China’s Minister Miao Wei was quoted as saying, “We will be first in 6G.” Here we go again… oyyyyy!
Executive Editor/Applied Wireless Technology
His 20-plus years of editorial experience includes being the Editorial Director of Wireless Design and Development and Fiber Optic Technology, the Editor of RF Design, the Technical Editor of Communications Magazine, Cellular Business, Global Communications and a Contributing Technical Editor to Mobile Radio Technology, Satellite Communications, as well as computer-related periodicals such as Windows NT. His technical writing practice client list includes RF Industries, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Agilent Technologies, Advanced Linear Devices, Ceitec, SA, Lucent Technologies, , Qwest, City and County of Denver, Sandia National Labs, Goldman Sachs, and others. Before becoming exclusive to publishing, he was a computer consultant and regularly taught courses and seminars in applications software, hardware technology, operating systems, and electronics. His credentials include a BS, Electronic Engineering Technology; A.A.S, Electronic Digital Technology. He has held a Colorado Post-Secondary/Adult teaching credential, member of IBM’s Software Developers Assistance Program and Independent Vendor League, a Microsoft Solutions Provider Partner. He is a senior/life member of the IEEE, the Press Liaison for the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society and a member of the IEEE Communications Society, IEEE MTT Society, IEEE Vehicular Technology Society and the IEEE 5G Community. He was also a first-class FCC technician in the early days of radio. Ernest Worthman may be contacted here.