2x50: Born In A Log Cabin


Adding fuel to the fire: Who was first to launch 5G? Depends who you ask


The answer is quite simple (and Reuters could have got it if they had done their research):

AT& doesn’t even have 5G hardware. They simply rebranded their 4G network as “5G E”. Verizon and the South Koreans both have 5G towers and at least one 5G-capable phone (Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Motorola Z3 + 5G Mod). But the South Koreans officially launched their networks at least an hour earlier than Verizon did. Verizon most likely only even launched the same day because they were forced to.

Having been to South Korea I would expect them to have completed the nationwide 5G rollout next month.


5G was never about mobile devices, but all about replacing DSL and optical fiber lines with ultrafast radio links. It’s called “fixed wireless”, and that’s what the millimeter wave frequencies are for.


Never the less, the question remains, not as to what the radio waves will be used for, but what the frequencies will be, what power will be needed to do what is intended, and how pervasive the antennas will be. In the light of these and other questions, the application is irrelevant.


It’s the other way around: you choose the application and are left with a couple of parameter combinations which fit best.

General 5G coverage will be provided in the same frequency ranges as right now (700 MHz to 3 Ghz), with the same power levels (one to few watts) and number of towers. Speeds won’t get much higher than the current one to two Gigabit/s because 4G already maxes out these frequency ranges and 5G doesn’t add significantly better modulation categories and manufacturers can hardly fit more MIMO antennas into their devices.

Some places will be outfitted with additional towers and micro/nanocells in the 3 to 6 GHz range to increase local speeds. Obviously these cells will be small because those wavelengths don’t go through walls very well, but they will bring down the average transmit power levels.

Some towers will be outfitted with mmWave antennas in the 20-40 GHz range to provide fixed wireless. Clients will generally have fixed antennas installed on their roofs or building walls. Power levels will be very low since microwave antennas can have extremely high gains.

Some very specific sites, e.g. soccer stadiums and event venues, will probably also get 20-40 GHz mmWave cells. Not for the speeds, but because it’s the easiest way to provide service to thousands of devices and penetration of walls is not a problem. Transmit power levels will also be minimal here.

Device manufacturers will obviously try to put antennas for all frequency bands into their devices, but that stuff is not free. Even after years of 4G deployment, many devices (even the high-end iPhones or the Samsung Galaxy S10) still don’t support all frequencies in the established 700 MHz to 3 GHz range.

So don’t expect any wonders compared to 4G. You will probably connect to the same towers on the same frequencies as right now most of the time. You have to combine a lot of Sub-6-Ghz frequency bands to go beyond 2 GBit/s, which is unlikely in practice as you share those with everybody else, and there won’t be that many cases in which you happen be in line of sight of an mmWave antenna.


Interesting article about one potential consequence of 5G deployment: https://hackaday.com/2019/04/16/5g-buildout-likely-to-put-weather-forecasting-at-risk/



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