With CES under our belts, we saw vendors from all over the world scrambling to come up with the latest and greatest products from the tech world. And, of course, 5G is a major attention getter. It will be interesting to see how the 5G spin will play out this year. The pressure is now on to live up to the hype of what was promised in 2019, in 2018.
The last couple of weeks have been full of pre- and post-CES news. My inbox is swamped with announcements of what the reporting segment thinks I want to hear about offerings at CES. I am not going do a laundry list of who announced what – most of you get the same data. That is not the purpose of this dialog. What I want to do is see just how 5G, these 5G products really are. And space being limited I will only take a look at one or two. But I have to assume that the spit and polish is, pretty much, the same for all products. That being said, let us start out with D-Link’s, just announced, 5G Wi-Fi router.
Most notable is D-Link’s boast that this device will offer speeds of up 40X that of wired broadband. Well, this smacks of tech jargon right out of the gate – love those “fake” numbers. It is an easy way to hype specs without having to come up with real numbers. In this case, the “40 times” is based on the “average” wired broadband speed of 70 Mbps (2.8 Gbps in case you do not want to do the math). Actually, the router spec is said to be able to handle up to 3.0 Gbps on the download leg. The rest of the specs are a bit nebulous, but supposedly it will be backward compatible with 4G stuff and will support functions such as VoLTE.
However, this is a pretty slim offering. Early offerings will come, preconfigured, with a particular carrier’s SIM card so, in theory, all one has to do it plug it in and it will connect to that carrier’s network (initial sales are aimed at carriers, and not consumers, so it will only be available from them, at first).
One, supposed, hot spec is the router’s latency. Using 5G bandwidth, it claims “near or zero” lag. However, knowing that latency is a function of bandwidth, I would have to question that statement in all but the best of scenarios, with bandwidth loading and at uncrowded frequencies. Still, if one gets a Gig or so of sustainable bandwidth, apps such as virtual whatever, gaming and streaming multimedia, for example, would benefit in a shared environment.
There was also a 5G phone. It was presented by Samsung as a prototype, but nobody could touch it. I have to think it was just a placeholder so CES could say they had 5G phones. We all know better.
It seems that 5G was short at CES. But then, right around the corner is Mobile World Congress. I hope 5G fares better there.
Now, what does all this mean? I will revisit this missive after MWC but right now, I believe that 2019 will be the year of 5G marketing. I believe that our industry is under the gun to make things real. Just know that marketers have the amazing ability to make you think it is real.
Also, remember that the 5G standards are not fully baked, yet. There was just a setback in the next release. Anything that is 5G compliant at this stage of the game is just going to touch the edges of performance. Add to that, the lack of any real use-cases or apps that have legs and it is still, mostly, in trials and test deployment. That is not likely to change much until late 2019 at best.
And, with all the noise around 5G smartphones, that is not the vector that will be first or move the quickest. There will be fits and spurts of 5G mobile and a lot of noise around the few 5G smartphones and networks that develop, but much of the solid early action will come in fixed wireless, edge networks and the Internet of Everything/Everyone (IoX). Also, expect to see some movement in the enterprise arena as well. These are the vectors where fixed 5G is likely to gain traction this year.
In retrospect, I am glad I do not attend CES anymore. It is just too much pie in the sky and too much, in general. So much of what’s there is vaporware, as well as “out there” stuff (like self-cleaning, smart toilets). Not that I do not find it interesting to see what everybody is working on. But it is just technology overload in today’s age of real-time life, I actually get a whole lot more out of the various feeds from CES.
So, I will keep my ear to the ground around the noise from CES. If anything really new and noteworthy pops during the year from it, I will let you know.