A Look behind the 5G Wireless Hype

by Matt Klassen on December 9, 2015

5gisnot4g1Have you heard of 5G wireless yet? If not, you’re going to hear a lot about it over the next twelve months; the next generation of lightning fast wireless technology that promises to make 4G LTE look like a veritable horse and buggy in comparison. In fact, not only will 5G revolutionize our thoughts about fast connection, but it will power the growing Internet of Things as well, ostensibly serving as the glue that will hold our connected everything existence together in one semi-cohesive package.

The only problem with all the talk of the power of 5G wireless tech in 2016, however, will be that it’ll be nothing but hot air, as next year is shaping up to be the year of 5G hype, a time when marketing buzzwords dominate in an effort to mask the fact that true 5G connectivity will not be commercially available until sometime around 2020.

That’s not to say that 2016 won’t bring faster service though, as carriers continue to compete on performance, price, value, and service, but simply that they’ll likely try to sell you more than they can actually deliver, all as part of the intensifying war for your temporary allegiance…and your wallet.

While companies began developing their own visions of next generation 5G technology the moment 4G LTE became commercially viable, the discussion around the next iterative step in our wireless journey certainly intensified in 2015, with Verizon announcing its plans to hold 5G field tests next year, AT&T announcing, in its own way, that it was lagging sorely behind in its own 5G development, and tech companies like Huawei and ZTE unveiling their own “pre-5G” technology, all in an effort to convince you to spend more money on better network connections.

But it seems that amidst this hype there is a real need to temper the optimism, or at least clarify the hype, for although 2016 may deliver better wireless service, it won’t be anything close to what we’ve been promised in the early stages of 5G development; so don’t buy into the hype.

In fact, as I mentioned, the commercial rollout of 5G wireless technology isn’t expected until 2020, as the industry wrestles (as it has down with every wireless development) over the definition of 5G, what it will do, and how it will work.

Until then all talk of “5G” is, as it has always been, nebulous to the point of meaningless, a term that companies will use in marketing campaigns, but as its predecessors before it, will be defined solely by what those companies want it to mean, not what it will actually deliver.

Now to be fair 2016 will bring better wireless technology, as the new industry buzzword, “carrier aggregation,” effectively the combining of several smaller bands of spectrum into one larger band, the creation of a new fast lane on the information superhighway. This technology will allow smartphones to enjoy faster network connections, a bump of between 20 to 40 percent.

Further, the industry will continue to attempt to employ Wi-Fi to patch spotty network coverage, meaning a better, more reliable connection wherever you may find yourself.

Now granted these small improvements are better than the 4G LTE we currently have, and perhaps they are worth the extra money you’ll need to pay to enjoy them, but be aware that what you’re getting is not the next generation 5G technology you might think you’re getting. So ignore the hype, ignore the marketing, and recognize that while wireless speeds will improve in 2016, the 5G revolution is still a long ways off.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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