It’s a Long Way to 5G

It’s a Long Way to 5G

Summary: Critics have piled on to Samsung’s recent announcement about its 5G technology test. I say, 5G? How about better 3G coverage first?

TOPICS: ÜberTech

Back in mid-May, Samsung announced it had successfully tested fifth-generation (5G) wireless technology that would eventually allow users to download an entire movie in one second. Sceptics have been piling on ever since.

I’m not going to join the fray and speculate about whether the tests were valid or not. Especially since 5G won’t be ready for prime time until 2020 at the earliest. But, I do have two responses.

Firstly, when I was on Oxford Street a few weeks back (often hailed as London’s busiest shopping street), my phone was showing an 'O' symbol, meaning I only had GPRS at best. In fact, I seemed to have nothing at all.

Forget 5G. I'd be delighted if 3G worked in London. Heck even EDGE/2.5G would be enough most of the time. And it looks like I’m not the only one with bandwidth issues on UK networks.

Secondly, downloading a entire movie in one second sounds cool. It could be useful. But as my Sky+ planner demonstrates, download times are not a challenge for me. Sky (Satellite TV) has a personal video recorder (PVR) a bit like TiVo called the Sky+ box. They also have Sky+ on the go for your phone. I have mine set to record 30 shows a week. Add that to my favourite podcasts, radio 4 comedy shows, magazines, and music library, plus work and sleep requirements, and the sum is far more time than I’ll ever actually have.

What I really need is something that lets me watch an entire movie in one second. Anyone developing that?

Topic: ÜberTech


Diarmuid Mallon is the Director, Global Marketing Solutions & Programs – Mobile, which includes the SAP Mobile Services division and SAP Mobile solutions. He has worked in the mobile industry since 1996. Follow him here at ÜberTech and @diarmuidmallon.

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  • Setting standard is one thing, deployment is another..

    Admit it, this article was a joke isn't it?.
  • Agree

    I agree wholeheartedly. I get my mobile internet through two devices: a pay as you go Hotspot and a phone. Both of these devices rely on Sprint for their 3G. The hotspot also connects to Clearwire's 4G WiMax network. When I'm on WiMax I typically get 4-6 Mbit/sec. When I'm on 3G speeds vary between 500 Kbit/sec to 1.5 Mbit/sec. And quite honestly, I would much rather have ubiquitous 3G at, say 900 Mbit/sec than have 6 Mbit/sec 4G available to me in every city in the U.S.A. This is true even though my 4G usage is, supposedly, not metered, whereas I only get 2Gb of 3G for $35.00 per month (or 5Gb for $50.00).

    The reason for this is simple: the sorts of uses I put mobile internet to use for, 3G speeds are perfectly adequate. For instance, I just spent a week at my family's cabin in the mountains. This place is located in rural North Carolina, far from the beaten path, and as it is a vacation home, my aunt/mother have not seen fit to have cable/internet service installed. But I get quite decent Sprint 3G coverage there with speeds in the 500+ Kbit/sec range. Thanks to my Virgin hotspot and my Surface RT and Nexus 7 I felt perfectly connected. I was able to check in at work from time to time thanks to our Citrix gateway, and I found that my 3G speeds were adequate even for watching low quality Youtube videos. Searching for fun things to do while we were in the area and mapping stuff for our vacation was not problem whatsoever. Yes, I did have to forgo Hulu+ while I was there, but let's face it: until there's ubiquitous 4G and un-metered connections, watching movies and TV over the wireless spectrum is simply not realistic anyway.

    Now, once I drove down the mountain and started hopping from sight to sight, my 3G coverage was far spottier. And being nestled between dozens of different mountain peaks surely presents difficulties for any wireless provider who desires to provide coverage. But agai I reiterate: not having 3G coverage while I was off the mountain was a far greater inconvenience than not having 4G coverage while I was on the mountain.

    So yeah: let's get moderately speedy 3G everywhere before we try to roll out more and more super fast 4G and 5G coverage.