"Wireless connectivity is rapidly replacing many forms of cable connectivity. Wireless is the primary mode of broadband access in many parts of the world. Also, many portable devices no longer provide USB or display interface delegating all communications to wireless links."
Which is true, but nobody ever said we had to overhaul the entire comms infrastructure of entire countries because you can't plug a LAN cable into an iPad. Tail wagging the dog, etc.
I can be anything you want me to be, sugar
John Lillistone, head of capacity and coverage products at Arqiva, took me on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. He said "the question of exactly what 5G is, or will be, is not as simple as it sounds as it is currently many things to many people,"
Nevertheless, while Lillistone probably doesn't really know what 5G is, he's certain it's going to be BIG.
"Super fast" speeds are merely "the tip of the iceberg" with 5G, he whispers, doubtless gazing toward the faraway mountains and twirling his majestic long beard.
"One of the first applications, however, is likely to be the delivery of fast broadband to premises over wireless rather than ‘fixed' networks," he admits, rather less epically.
"Although fibre still has a role to play given the limited range of the very high frequency bands needed to deliver the signal."
Not to be dissuaded, however, Lillistone crescendos again:
"Beyond broadband and fixed wireless access, 5G is best thought of as a technology able to connect anything to anything else and the internet almost instantaneously. Machine to machine connections for the internet of things, autonomous vehicles with millisecond latency and virtual and augmented reality applications will also benefit greatly from the quality and robustness of the connection made possible by 5G."
I mean it's all technically true, but we can also enthuse about how one day we'll be able to zip to Saturn via a custom black hole generator to do our shopping. Sure, it's not been invented or implemented yet but we understand how it works, so let's get excited.
What technology will it all run on, then, John?
"No-one can really be sure for the time being, but the equipment makers are investing a lot of energy in this and some MNOs are responding very positively."
John! John, no. You tease!
And so it drones on. Andrew Cartledge, "mobile expert" at Mobiles.co.uk calls 5G "the next generation of mobile connection," before readily admitting "there has yet to be an officially decided standard for 5G mobile, so any expectations of performance are purely speculative at this stage".
But no matter - it'll be sorted by 2020 (that date again) and "is set to herald a boost in new jobs and businesses, as well as the opportunity for economic growth".
I won't bore you recounting the dozens of other hugely similar patters I received. I'm just going to stop here.
But here's my advice to you, from my (admittedly limited, but hugely irritating) findings:
- 2017 is not ‘the year of 5G'. Just as 2016, 2015 and 2014 weren't. If anybody says this to you at MWC, feign illness or run away.
- Most vendors don't understand what 5G is, they just 'know' it's better than 4G, because it has a 5 and not a 4. Most vendors want your money and don't actually care about you. Even if they give you a free branded Biro and shake your hand while gazing lovingly into your eyes.
- The UK will almost certainly not be a 5G paradise by 2020, because that will involve abandoning a load of hardware that cost a ton of cash, and still doesn't even work properly at the time of writing. Even in the Brexit freefall we're hurtling towards, nobody is quite mentally eroded enough to chuck away seven years' worth of cabling.
- 5G is "currently many things to many people". I can't quote this clanger enough. Print it out and stick it on your monitor, or even something that can move around and be read by other people, such as a cat.
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