The World Gears Up for 5G

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    Though it is still a long way off, the race to develop 5G is heating up.

    This week, T-Mobile asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a license to test millimeter wave radios in the 28GHz and 39GHz frequencies. According to FierceWireless:

    Its proposed operations involve tests at four locations. T-Mobile wants to conduct indoor tests within the controlled environment of its Bellevue lab facilities. It also wants to conduct tests at its Bellevue headquarters and at two other nearby outdoor locations. Those tests will provide information on signal propagation between buildings and other critical data to inform the broader design of 5G systems, the applications states.

    The manufacturers of the test equipment have not been named.

    Meanwhile, The Register reports that Verizon is also asking to test in the 28 GHz spectrum. The company has requested permission to work with Ericsson, Intel, Samsung and Qualcomm for six months. The interest appears to be on propagation properties in the band. The locations requested are Euless, Texas, and South Plainfield, NJ. The tests will be conducted within one kilometer of each location.

    In the longer term, Business Korea reported that South Korea is planning what it says would be the first 5G trial. It will be conducted at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Japan will follow up with tests at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. China is also targeting the Olympics. In this case, the 2022 games in Beijing will be the site of tests of 5G-Advanced.

    Confusion surrounds 5G. While these tests and others are planned, the precise nature of the technology is still a moving target. The story offers valuable insight: The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is defining 5G as a wireless broadband technology capable of connected 1 million Internet of Things (IoT) devices in an area of 1 square kilometer. The maximum data rate is 20 Gigabits per second (Gbps) and the minimum 100 Megabits per second (Mbps).


    Laboratory research is ongoing. Last week, the University of Bristol, the Swedish University of Lund and National Instruments cooperated to send data wirelessly at 1.59 Gbps in a 20MHz channel. This data rate, according to Engineering and Technology, represented a 12-fold increase over “the fastest currently available 4G cellular technology.” The test used a technique the story refers to as a massive multiple in multiple out (massive MIMO) antenna system.

    5G represents huge increases in capacity compared to anything previous to it. The new technology required is accordingly impressive – and to developers probably a bit intimidating. The good news is that tests, trial announcements and technical work are hitting high gear.

    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 and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk is a long-time IT and telecom journalist. His coverage areas include the IoT, artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing LTE and 5G, SDN, NFV, net neutrality, municipal broadband, unified communications and business continuity/disaster recovery. Weinschenk has written about wireless and phone companies, cable operators and their vendor ecosystems. He also has written about alternative energy and runs a website, The Daily Music Break, as a hobby.

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