I just read yet another overly hyped article about the miracles of 5G and how it is going to “transform” my life, and well, enough is enough. I just had to throw my two cents in on the whole 5G cell network nonsense because I’ve been hearing so much hype and, frankly, pure B.S. that I can’t stand it any more.
Look, all that stuff about gigabit speeds and a revolution in data communications because of 5G? Don’t believe any of it. Pretty much none of it is true, certainly all the hype you’re hearing from the cell phone companies isn’t.
5G does indeed deliver impressive speed. Theoretically it is faster than the internet connection to your house. (Well, hell, just about anything is faster than the connection I have at my house which often drops to speeds not much faster than what I could get back in the 1990s with a 28K modem. Just one of the “joys” of the government protected internet/cable tv monopolies we have.)
But that’s the key word, isn’t it? Theoretically. In the laboratory. In testing. Out in the real world 5G almost never reaches those speeds. In fact, it doesn’t even get close. Real world testing of newly installed 5G networks is showing that they are operating at speeds that are no better and often worse than the old 4G network. Seriously. Real world test results where the new 5G network is supposedly up and running are showing that in a lot of areas 5G is slower than the existing 4G/LTE network. And that doesn’t surprise me at all
I know a bit about radio, and that is exactly what the cell phone system is, radio. I know how propagation works, how radio waves at specific frequencies behave, how they can (or more importantly can’t) penetrate things like buildings, windows, etc., I know something about transmitters, receivers, antennas and all that guff. I know all that because I play with that stuff almost every day. And system just will not, can not, deliver the bandwidth and speeds these companies are claiming it will except under ideal circumstances which almost never exist out here in the real world.
Some of their transmitters at certain frequencies have a range of a whopping 150 yards. That’s it. Some of the frequencies being used are blocked by, well, everything, even glass. In difficult areas at some frequencies the companies would have to not only install equipment every few hundred feet, they’d have to install repeaters inside of large buildings to get coverage. Trying to fully implement this network to make it capable of what the cell companies claim it will do would cost massive amounts of money, trying to get permits, locate transmitters, etc would be a nightmare. So outside of dense (and high profit) urban areas, it just ain’t gonna happen.
Sure, it has a lot of potential, especially in rural areas. The system that runs down in the 600 mHz band has a lot of potential. It won’t get anywhere near gigabit speeds, but it does promise to deliver speed in the 30 -40 mbs range, which is a hell of a lot better than what most of us out here in rural areas are getting.
But all that other stuff about pushing up to gigabit speeds with ridiculously low latency times? Don’t believe it. The only places where you’ll see those kinds of speeds are in the most densely populated areas where the companies can maximize their profits.
And then there is going to be the cost. That seems to be one thing everyone is forgetting to mention. What is this going to cost us? You can be darn sure that the cell/data monopolies are going to try to suck every penny they can out of you. There are going to be data caps, speed throttling, and eye watering overage charges. They’re going to milk this for every penny they can get. And if you think they won’t, I should remind you that one of the big cell companies drastically throttled back the speeds and capabilities of some of California’s emergency services, including the fire departments a year or so ago. In the middle of a state wide fire emergency while whole towns were burning. Even though they paid extra for “unlimited” service. So yeah, they’re going to charge you through the nose for it.
5G has huge potential. The problem is that for most of us out in the real world we’re never going to see that potential fulfilled because of a lack of infrastructure, poor implementation by the carriers, and sheer greed on the part of the companies.