Understanding 5G, and Why It’s the Future (Not Present) for Mobile Communications

No disagreement with anything here, but we won’t be seeing apps moved wholesale from cloud services to the edge - there’s simply no room to put that much computing power in all the edge nodes.

It’s more likely that we’ll see cloud apps broken into pieces with the time-critical components running on the edge and the rest (including data storage) in the usual central locations.

I could be wrong, but IIRC, processing and storage can be divvied up between edge and cloud systems. I think I remembered reading about this in regard to autonomous vehicals; probably traffic mapping apps would be in the cloud and all driving systems in the edge. Autonomous farming vehicles might combine cloud based weather with terrestrial functions on the edge.

I’m certainly not saying that 5G won’t be of any value at all in the future. My argument is solely that there is no appreciable benefit to consumers NOW. Buying into 5G right now is pointless, but there will probably come a time in the future when it is worthwhile on phones, dependant on what functionality they offer that requires the higher speeds and lower latency.

Personally I doubt it will be for a few years yet, though, and in the meantime people might just as well stick with 4G for all the good that 5G would do them. As before, we all need to get better at differentiating between the future and now.

You mention downloading all four seasons of The Crown in 1-2 minutes - why? When each episode takes an hour to view, why would you need to download all four seasons in one go? And paying extra to do it just doesn’t make any sense to me at all when you could do it over a fixed link for free as and when you need it, or over 4G if you insist at a plenty fast-enough speed to be able to view when you want.

Finally, with regard to your points concerning the value of the higher speed and lower latency for uses such as robotic surgery - I am entirely unconvinced that this use would be better served by 5G than a fixed link. I cannot come up with a scenario where a fixed link with high bandwidth and low latency would not be available where robotic surgery is carried out, but where 5G was available. Traffic lights and suchlike uses - I find it hard to believe that the latency actually required for this function is not available with 4G already. To me these are entirely fallacious justifications.

But once again I am not saying that 5G will never be of value, I am simply saying that consumers have little or no use of it now and should save their money until it is of value.

I thought made this point clear in earlier posts, and I totally agree that the current hype emphasizing the need to move to upgrade to a 5G consumer package now is totally hype. I have talking about potential use cases when super high speed will be available. I think that pressure is probably building up from companies, including Apple working on VR/AR glasses, autonomous driving, etc. that requires super high speed 5G before they can get the their products onto the production lines.

There is only one reason to get 5G right now – it will spur the cellular companies to expand their 5G networks and bring it to the masses. If no one upgrades to 5G it will go the way of 3D televisions and that wouldn’t be good for the future of communications. Early adopters are needed to get the new tech off the ground and make it become popular.

I’m sure the cell companies are watching very carefully to see the adoption of 5G and based on those numbers they’ll increase their investment and the speed of the transition, or slow down their plans.

Now that doesn’t mean that we should all jump on 5G even if it’s useless to us (like I live in a rural area that barely gets LTE, let alone 5G, so it’s of little benefit to me right now), but I’m sure in favor of others going for it as it will (eventually) help me down the line.

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Well, there are people like me who buy phones every 3 years, so if 5G is more wide-spread in 2022 into 2023, maybe it’s not so bad to buy a 5G phone now rather than buy a less-expensive iPhone 11 or XR or SE. So, there is more than one reason to buy now, if you are in the market anyway.

If you’re a T-Mobile customer, you may want to go to 5G simply because T-Mobile is moving a lot of their network to 5G. True, it is the slower 600Mhz low band, but there has been less 4G space and a lot more 5G space in recent months on that band.

Here are T-Mobile’s Bands

  • Band 71 (600Mhz) — extended range
    • 4G and 5G
  • Band 12 (700Mhz) — extended range, but limited availabliity
    • 4G only
  • Band 4 and 66 (1700/2100Mhz)
    • 3G and 4G
  • Band 2 (1900Mhz) — Limited Availability
    • 4G, 3G, some 2G
  • Band n41 (2.5 GHz)
    • Midrange 5G (Old Sprint network)
  • Band n260 (39Ghz and n261 (28Ghz)
    • Ultra Highband 5G

T-Mobile plan is to move Band 71 to 5G only and moving 3G off Band 4 and 66. That means if you want to take advantage of the extended range of Band 71, you will need 5G in the near future.

How quickly T-Mobile will be moving forward with this depends upon the number of customers with 5G phones. However, T-Mobile had previous plans to stop supporting 3G entirely in January 2021 but has held off on that for now.

Unlike AT&T and Verizon which is concentrating on 5G on ultra highband, T-Mobile is pushing 5G on their lower and midrange bands.

And T-Mobile is quickly deploying Band n41 for 5G. These won’t give you gigabyte speeds offered by ultrahigh bands, but they will give you about 100Mbs to 200Mbs speeds and they can penetrate buildings and cover more distance. The plan is to cover over 400 cities and 100 million people by December.

I think this is very interesting, especially since T-Mobile just acquired Sprint a few months ago. This is what they said at the time:

““During this extraordinary time, it has become abundantly clear how vital a strong and reliable network is to the world we live in. The New T-Mobile’s commitment to delivering a transformative broad and deep nationwide 5G network is more important and more needed than ever and what we are building is mission-critical for consumers,” said Mike Sievert, president and CEO of T-Mobile.”

What’s also interesting, and I’m not trying to create a political discussion, is that the prior US government administration nixed the deal. It got approved by the current one, which is now on the way out the door. But in order to receive government approval for the merger, T-Mobile had to agree to not raise prices for three years; there’s a very interesting article about the court decision and its potential ramifications here:

I looked around to see if T-Mobile has been actively bidding in the auctions for bandwidth, and it looks like they’ve recently been MIA in the high bandwidth arena. But they have been aggressively pushing LTE fixed wireless in target areas, especially in the markets where AT&T stopped accepting new DSL customers:

I think they are probably focused on getting the customer bases of two services rolled into one, and waiting to see how much scrutiny they might or might not be getting from a new administration, especially since 5G is a new category for the industry.

4G/LTE can only get you about 30Mbs max. T-Mobile bills the service as 20Mbs with a caveat that your speed might be slower. However, with their 5G midband deployment, they will probably be using that as their Home Internet backbone. That can get hundreds of Mbs which is equivalent to cable landline speeds for most people.

Being able to package Home Internet with Cellphone service will be the new Triple Play that the cable companies used to pull customers in from the phone companies. T-Mobile is probably looking at Home Internet as a way to steal customers from Verizon and AT&T — just like the cable companies did back in the early 2000s.