5G Closer than Ever, But Not Here Yet

Carl Weinschenk

The timeline for 5G technology is becoming more aggressive. The ecosystem seems to be making great progress, which tends to embolden marketers and financial planners. This, in turn, leads to more pressure from executives and creates the accelerated timelines. No carrier, vendor or other member of the value chain wants to be left behind.

The last few weeks have been rife with announcements and news reports of trials. A case in point: ZTE said that it expects revenues from 5G equipment to materialize in 2019. RCRWireless reports that the company is working with Qualcomm and China Mobile on trials. ZTE, a Chinese company, said that it will play a larger role than it did in earlier cellular specifications.

5G tests and trials are being announced with great rapidity. Daily Pakistan reports that Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has started a 5G trial in Tokyo and rural areas in anticipation of launching services in 2020. Participants are NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, SoftBank, Panasonic, Sharp and Fujitsu. The tests in Japan will involve connected vehicles, and outdoor and indoor venues will be included. A key 5G goal for Japanese carriers is 8K video distribution, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

Last week, WirelessWeek linked to an application made to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by AT&T earlier in May to test 5G networks in live business and residential settings in Waco, Texas; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and South Bend, Indiana. The story, which linked to the applications themselves, said that the carrier is asking for a year-and-a-half test to study millimeter (mmWave) and 28 GHz operations.


Light Reading also reported on tests last week. Nokia is looking at the characteristics of 28 GHz mmWave transmissions at its headquarters in Irving, Texas, and in conjunction with Verizon in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Texas.

There is still much work to do, however. The challenging element is that much of the high-frequency wavelength technology that will support the glitziest elements of 5G is still unsettled. It is a bit of a classic issue of marketing departments raising expectations while the folks in the lab and in the field struggle to make it happen. The acceleration suggests, however, that the carriers are confident that the technical issues are under control.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

 


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