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“5th generation mobile networks or 5th generation wireless systems, abbreviated 5G, are the proposed next telecommunications standards beyond the current 4G/IMT-Advanced standards.” Wikipedia You may have have heard of LTE from your wireless provider which means Long-Term Evolution (LTE) which became the fastest and most consistent variety of 4G compared to competing technologies by becoming the accepted standard. 5G is the next generation expected to arrive in the future as wireless companies prepare for it.

We posted last November that Qualcomm may be shipping a 5G modem in the second half of 2018 with speeds up to 5 Gigabits per second where networks support them which is a giant leap forward from current 4G standards which provides “service at 100 megabits per second (Mbit/s) for high mobility communication (such as from trains and cars) and 1 gigabit per second (Gbit/s) for low mobility communication (such as pedestrians and stationary users).” Qualcomm commissioned The 5G Economy – a landmark research project that predicts 5G-related goods and services in 2035 will be $12 Trillion dollars.

What this means is that 5G will increase download speeds for fixed wireless connections.  5G fixed wireless will have advantages even over satellite which doesn’t handle certain weather conditions very well and is more reliable than satellite, with low latency, no data caps, and lower costs than satellite. Gizmodo says, “5G will make it easier for people to download and upload Ultra HD and 3D video. It will also make room for the thousands of internet-connected devices entering our everyday world. Just imagine upgrading your data connection from a garden hose to a fire hose. The difference will be noticeable.” Currently there are an estimated 6.4 billion connected devices in the world which Gartner predicts will jump to 20.8 billion devices by 2020. As wired puts it, “5G is about more than just shuttling GBs to and from your iPhone more quickly. The 5G revolution will cast a much wider net. It’s an information conduit being built to connect self-driving cars, VR headsets, delivery drones, and billions of interconnected devices inside the home.

What is the Issue of Implementing 5G?
The current low frequency 4G LTE is able to send signals farther and around or through buildings better than the higher frequency 5G signals which have difficulty getting around walls, buildings, and other obstacles. Therefore, carriers will have to use more antennas—many more—to get the same coverage as our current networks. You’ll see mini-antennas basically everywhere. The entire current infrastructure will completely change and the costs are astronomical. That is why most industry experts predict it will be 2020 before 5G will be available worldwide.

Who is Betting on 5G?
AT&T is taking 5G seriously since it was announced today that it has paid $1.6 Billion dollars for Straight Path Communications, Inc, one of the largest holders of the 28 and 39 gigahertz frequencies which the FCC has approved 5G for that spectrum frequencies. Bloomberg reports this sale is “an all-stock deal valued at $1.6 billion.” appleinsider reports, “Straight Path was motivated to sell after a settlement with the FCC earlier this year. According to Bloomberg, the company misrepresented the progress of utilizing the spectrum it owned, and as a result agreed to transfer its spectrum licenses by early next year.”

“The deal marks the second acquisition of high-frequency airwaves by AT&T this year. In January, the Dallas-based telecom behemoth purchased FiberTower Corp., which holds licenses for 24 GHz and 39 GHz bands of airwaves,” according to Bloomberg.  This puts AT&T into a better position since the move to 5G is very competitive. As Bloomberg explains, “Verizon still has a wide lead against rivals in coverage with 28 GHz spectrum. Wireless carriers use a measurement called megahertz-POP — the amount of bandwidth multiplied by the potential number of people covered by the airwaves. Verizon owns almost 200 billion Mhz-POP of 28 GHz spectrum, more than 600 MHz on average nationally. T-Mobile controls 97.4 billion and Straight Path has 39.7 billion, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence analysis.”

Nokia announced partnerships with Airtel and BSNL for preparing 5G networks in India according to The India Express, and adds, “Samsung, Huawei are also making massive investments in this upcoming technology.” Verizon, a major investor in 5G networks, may be the first carrier to actually implement 5G sometime this year according to Roger Cheng, c/net who writes, “some level of commercial deployment” to begin by 2017 which is far earlier than the time frame of 2020 that many in the industry have pegged for the initial adoption of 5G technology. Mr. Cheng writes,”South Korea hopes its wireless carriers can deploy a trial 5G network in 2018, in time for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Japan hopes to have a 5G network running in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The Chinese government, meanwhile, has also pushed for the aggressive deployment of 5G technology.”

“Verizon recently announced it will roll out 5G service in 11 US cities by midyear, but that deployment is meant to replace fixed broadband rather than mobile service. AT&T will deliver its DirectTV Now video service over 5G to a limited number of customers in Austin, Texas. Last year, Sprint delivered live 4K video over 5G at a soccer game, and T-Mobile intends to make 5G a high-speed pipe for VR video.” wired