Your iPhone on steroids: With 5G mobile, wireless will go even faster than fiber

“New mobile networks come along once every decade or so. Starting around 1980, the first generation of cellular phones relied on analogue technology. When the second-generation arrived in 1991, the networks began to go digital,” The Economist reports. “By 2001, the third-generation swapped clunky old circuit-switching for efficient packet-switching. Around 2010, fourth-generation networks adopted IP (internet protocol) technology in a big way, providing mobile devices with broadband access to the internet. Each generational change brought new frequency bands, higher speeds and greater emphasis on streaming data rather than simply transmitting voice.”

“Lately, wireless operators have begun wondering what to include in fifth-generation (5G) networks,” The Economist reports. “There is a feeling of urgency as outside heavyweights like Google and Facebook threaten to upset their cosy business. If the mobile carriers can agree among themselves, they hope to have their fifth-generation networks in place by 2020.”

“So, how much of an improvement will 5G offer over the best of 4G? Difficult to say. But given the ten-fold improvement seen over previous generations, an average 5G download speed of 1Gbps seems realistic—with the possibility of up to 10Gbps as the technology ripens with age,” The Economist reports. “Such wireless bit rates are beyond even the scope of the optical-fibre currently used to deliver internet access and high-definition television to the home.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Much potential bandwidth delivers much potential. Death to latency!

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “David G.” for the heads up.]

16 Comments

    1. Gary, that’s true, but the typical home installation has several factors which limit that rate. The author would more accurately have said “…the TYPICAL optical fiber used…”.

        1. Bo,

          Not in the case of Verizon. My house an an ONI (Optical Network Interface) in the basement, with fiber coming directly into the home. As a matter of fact, I had to sign an agreement when I had it installed that Verizon was taking the copper drop away and I could NEVER get it back!

  1. Given adoption curve lines, 5G implementation by 2020 would be the death knell for coax cable delivery of TV/Internet. Instead of having ONE true broadband provider (cable companies) as it exists today, there would be at minimum four competing options for your internet service: ATT, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint.

    Voice, internet and TV through a single, competition driven, portal. I like it.

  2. Wireless rates are only good to the cell tower. From there it becomes wired. Your limit is the amount of Fiber being switched at the cell tower. What’s silly about articles like this, is that they fail to recognize that wireless always becomes wired at some point and that may become the bottle neck.

    1. Ironically, when they developed ethernet, they thought that long distance would be wireless and local networks would be all wired. The reverse happened! Long distance communication is all wired in cables under the oceans and land. Local networks (especially in the home) are becoming increasingly wireless!

  3. OMG this article is so wrong its almost funny. Folks, while wireless is growing fiber (both Multimode and Singlemode) bandwidths are growing at INCREDIBLE rates. ALL Cell towers have to be fed by either Fiber or even copper in order to support truly high speed bandwidth. At ranges of more than 5 miles 200 – 300 Mega BITS is all that is really possible. And then you still have to deal with expensive and very limited spectrum AND WEATHER – yes Rain and particularly FOG still impede wireless bandwidth. With fiber we can shoot up to 120 KILOMETERs in all weather and and get over 10 GIGA BITs on a single wavelength with relatively inexpensive equipment and no spectrum hurdles.

    Bottom Line – Fiber is what makes all this stuff possible.

  4. First, on the plus side, (not much here):
    Fiber to the tower is going to be plenty fast enough. If a cell zone is using 20 Gbps over all connections, the tower owner will put in fast enough fiber to cover it. Don’t expect the land-line connection to be the usual bottleneck. (rare surges will happen to still occasionally overwhelm it)
    Rain and fog don’t affect cellular connections that much. They’re UHF and L-band. Even WiFi as S- and C-band aren’t affected that much by weather. (You’re not punching up through the heart of a bad thunderstorm to a satellite. So at these bands, there’s very little effect.)

    Now the bad stuff.
    Current LTE has a theoretical peak performance of about 1 Gbps down and 500 Gbps up. No one, literally no one, gets that. No one gets anything close to that. It’s rare that a cell phone gets above 40 Mbps down and 1-5 Mbps up and the typical rate (admitted to publicly by most providers) is more like 5 Mbps and 1 Mbps or less up.

    Even LTE-A (which has a theoretical peak performance of about 3 Gbps down and 1.5 Gbps and which is in testing right now by all the major carriers) won’t come close to breaking the 100 Mbps download rate for the typical, average user. Even if you do a wireless base station and an antenna array on the side of your house and a clear shot to a nearby tower implementing the full LTE-A protocol, you’ll be lucky to get 200 Mbps for typical usage.

    The numbers they all loudly proclaim as the theoretical peak performance requires so many things to be properly and fully implemented (channel bonding, multi-antenna MIMO, a limited number of concurrent users per tower, etc.) that the sum of all of them is unlikely to be implemented and realized, ever. They all ignore wireless congestion when they proclaim their numbers, nothing truly real-world.

    We’ll be lucky if we see the average user getting 1 Gbps wireless download rates (even to a home base station) under *typical* usage by the year 2030.

  5. Its meaningless unless the backhaul is upgraded to keep up with the enormous demand; in many, many cases existing towers are very limited.

    Its meaningless if the cell carriers keep charging incredible rates for capped monthly data-usage. AT&T is currently charging somewhere around $375 for 50 GB, with $15 per GB overage fees. Try streaming a few HD movies from Netflix and see what happens to usage!

  6. 1Gb data rates won’t happen except under the best circumstances. Wireless will always be subject to outside interference, which has a big impact on data throughput.. It is also limited by bandwidth resources and cell loading..

    The article also assumes they’ll be no advancements in optical… A foolhardy notion.. Just look at what Verizon has been able to do w software updates to the ONI in your home. Additionally, fiber to the home, such as FiOS, is DEDICATED bandwidth! No do w cable or wireless.. No matter what ‘G’ we are talking…

  7. 1Gb data rates won’t happen except under the best circumstances. Wireless will always be subject to outside interference, which has a big impact on data throughput.. It is also limited by bandwidth resources and cell loading..

    The article also assumes they’ll be no advancements in optical… A foolhardy notion.. Just look at what Verizon has been able to do w software updates to the ONI in your home. Additionally, fiber to the home, such as FiOS, is DEDICATED bandwidth! No do w cable or wireless.. No matter what ‘G’ we are talking…

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