Menu
The 5G mobile challenge: Selling a dream

The 5G mobile challenge: Selling a dream

No one in the mobile really knows what will make everyone demand super-high performance

At this week’s CTIA Super Mobility show, it took someone from outside the mobile business to point out what could be a nagging question: Why, exactly, do we need the faster speeds of 5G wireless?

Keynote speeches at CTIA, the main annual event for U.S. mobile operators, are heavy on futuristic applications and urgent calls for more spectrum and new networks to make those dreams real. On Wednesday, CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker said U.S. carriers would need hundreds of megahertz of additional frequencies to meet mobile demands over the next decade.

But on the same stage Thursday, when Broadcast.com founder, Dallas Mavericks owner and entertainment mogul Mark Cuban was asked what’s missing in the wireless business, he answered without hesitation.

"There's no high-bit applications that are mainstream yet," Cuban said. By that, he meant mobile activities that require a sustained 100Mbps (bits per second) that never drops.

Smartphone use is still heavy on things like texting, social media and streaming videos that don’t need that kind of performance. IoT is growing quickly, but in most cases it needs even less speed. The way things are now makes it harder for the industry to ask for more spectrum or sell consumers on 5G, Cuban said. "It changes how people perceive the need for bandwidth.”

Cuban doesn't doubt that something will come along that calls for 100Mbps to a phone or some future device. He cited autonomous cars and telemedicine as possibilities. But these kinds of visions, like the remote robotic surgery that Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri talked about in a keynote address on Thursday, are little more than speculation. Something no one's predicting, invented by a 12-year-old, could be the killer app instead. “That's where we can get whipsawed," Cuban said.

It’s hard to win over skeptics, and to develop new networks, with that question up in the air. And carriers have more persuading to do than ever before.

They seem to have won over Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, who has been leading the agency to open up millimeter-wave spectrum for 5G services.

But because of the way 5G is expected to work, especially at those frequencies, there could be many more fights ahead, Wheeler told a CTIA audience. 5G is expected to rely heavily on small cells, which take up less space than today's towers but need more places to perch. There are about 200,000 cell towers in the U.S. now, and 5G could raise the number of cells to the millions, Wheeler said.

Local communities often balk at new cellular installations, and many small cells will be even closer to where people live and work. The FCC is working to streamline approvals to put up small cells, but local governments are still involved.

Meanwhile, the companies developing 5G networks know they have their jobs cut out for them. To help carriers prepare for the next generation, they’re talking about technologies that will fit in between 4G and 5G, under names like 4.5G.

At CTIA, Nokia CEO Suri said his company will start selling what it calls 4.5G Pro later this year. This product will let service providers combine as many as five bands of spectrum for speeds up to 1Gbps and will have less latency than current LTE networks, he said.

Though the 5G standard doesn’t exist yet, carriers will be able to use 4.5G Pro to test out a range of new applications, including ones that require more bandwidth, lower latency and improved machine-to-machine communications, Suri said.

If carriers bite, and their subscribers start taking advantage of these transitional networks, 5G may arrive in 2020 with some ready-made uses after all.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags 5G

Featured

Slideshows

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

​As the channel changes and industry voices deepen, the need for clarity and insight heightens. Market misconceptions talk of an “under pressure” distribution space, with competitors in that fateful “race for relevance” across New Zealand. Amidst the cliched assumptions however, distribution is once again showing its strength, as a force to be listened to, rather than questioned. Traditionally, the role was born out of a need for vendors and resellers to find one another, acting as a bridge between the testing lab and the marketplace. Yet despite new technologies and business approaches shaking the channel to its very core, distributors remain tied to the epicentre - providing the voice of reason amidst a seismic industry shift. In looking across both sides of the vendor and partner fences, the middle concept of the three-tier chain remains centrally placed to understand the metrics of two differing worlds, as the continual pulse checkers of the local channel. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable, in association with Dicker Data and rhipe, examined the pivotal role of distribution in understanding the health of the channel, educating from the epicentre as the market transforms at a rapid rate.

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel
Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar last night, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and resellers descending on The Jefferson in Auckland to kickstart 2017. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017
Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow Electronics introduced Tenable Network Security to local resellers in Sydney last week, officially launching the distributor's latest security partnership across Australia and New Zealand. Representing the first direct distribution agreement locally for Tenable specifically, the deal sees Arrow deliver security solutions directly to mid-market and enterprise channel partners on both sides of the Tasman.

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel
Show Comments