Opinion: The ‘race to 5G’ is a myth

Kevin Werbach is a professor at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and the author of The Blockchain and the New Architecture of Trust. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.

Telecommunications providers relentlessly extol the power of fifth-generation (5G) wireless technology. Government officials and policy advocates fret that the winner of the “5G race” will dominate the internet of the future, so America cannot afford to lose out. Pundits declare that 5G will revolutionize the digital world. It all sounds very thrilling. Unfortunately, the hype has gone too far.

5G systems will, over time, replace today’s 4G, just as next year’s iPhone 12 will improve on this year’s 11. 5G networks offer significantly greater transmission capacity. However, despite all the hype, they won’t represent a radical break from the current mobile experience.

First of all, the “race to 5G” is a myth. 5G is a marketing term for a family of technologies, which carriers can stretch to cover a variety of networks. The technical standards are still under development, so what counts as “true” 5G is arguable. As with 4G, the 5G rollout will take years, as carriers upgrade their networks with new gear and users buy new phones. Just as they do today, connections will fall back to slower speeds when users aren’t near enough to a tower, or if the network is overloaded. There’s no magic moment when a carrier, or a nation, “has” 5G.

Read more at: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/02/03/perspectives/5g-disruption/index.html?utm_content=2020-02-04T10%3A57%3A59&utm_term=link&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twCNN