Thoughts on 5G

From generation to generation.

Posted by Dave Overton on October 22, 2019

Just a quick array of thoughts on 5G that I’ve been mulling over. Would love to discuss more on Twitter.

I currently try to use 4G regularly, however, I frequently have no connection in my metro area. I typically lose connectivity when I am near crowded areas such as shopping malls and hospitals. I therefore resort to using 3G on a daily basis and it is still really fast for normal consumption.

OH MY G - Technology development moves quickly, so I’m excited that our connections become faster with each generation of tech. I’m still waiting for enough licensing capacity for my carrier to be able to sufficiently handle the 4G demand, which for the record came out in 2009. 10 years to kinda roll out 4G? Another point: I can’t imagine what connectivity outside the metro is like. (2G?) Is there a better way than the current licensing model? The investment required in the rollout is huge - how does this work in context of the next billion users, especially in rural areas?

OK G(oogle) - Google just released the Pixel 4, sans 5G. I’m not surprised. It’s so early in the release of 5G, however, it plays to a bigger question. What are the long-term interests of phone manufacturers, telecoms (who are members of 3GPP), and other tech players/startups looking to disrupt our current communication standards? Starlink, Blue Origin, Google and Facebook each have pieces on the board of connectivity options.

The investment necessary to upgrade to 5G is huge, and all 4 US carriers are starting. International markets are likewise moving forward as well, but I anticipate this role will be metro-centric. This still leaves am opportunity for more widespread connectivity, focusing on reaching the rural communities that are underserved. Is another disruptive technology ready to displace it, or is this new technology still a generation to early?

Another thought: as 5G caters to high-bandwidth consumption, which YouTube is a big source of, I think they’ve correctly prioritized optimizing the delivery of videos and ads by working on say things like: better compression, increased distribution of data centers, lower latency on their networks, and caching, which serves the consumers regardless of the network they are connecting from. Apple and Google will release 5G phones, however, as we can see they are thinking about the short and long term impacts of their choices.