Last week, Verizon announced the launch of their 5G service in 4 US cities. There has been discussions around if it was really 5G or the “world’s first” which I don’t really find that important – it’s just marketing.
What makes me excited about it, is that it’s the first step to an all wireless world. Fast-forward a decade and I expect that internet will go all wireless without wifi. I’ve always regarded wifi as technology as transitional. The deployed wifi technologies always been one or two generations behind what’s deployed in either telecom networks or satellite communications. It is basically a poor man’s wireless network. In that regard, it’s tremendous successful and rightly so, but at the same time it’s not how a wireless world can look like.
The balancing act for wireless providers has always been spectrum, cell size and silicon. Silicon is limited in processing power and battery usage. More advanced coding schemes require more battery power. Cell size is limited by many factors like zoning and capital expenditures to cover a geographic area – the US is huge. Spectrum is a limited commodity. Lower coding schemes improve battery life and range, but reduce the available bandwidth on a particular slice of the spectrum.
Since telecom is a highly capital expensive business adoption of new technology is slow. Combined with zoning regulations managed by individual commissions in all areas, it slows down roll-out even more.
But this is a step in the right direction. I can’t wait for the day, I open my laptop or phone anywhere in the world and I’m connected to the internet. 5G technology brings that one step closer and it’s coming. I’m excited.