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'At This Point, 5G is a Bad Joke'

An anonymous reader shared this skeptical opinion piece from Computerworld:

Let’s start with the name itself. There is no single “5G.” There are, in fact, three different varieties, with very different kinds of performance… But, what most people want, what most people lust for is 1Gbps speeds with less than 10 milliseconds of latency… [T]o get that kind of speed you must have mmWave 5G — and it comes with a lot of caveats.

First, it has a range, at best, of 150 meters. If you’re driving, that means, until 5G base stations are everywhere, you’re going to be losing your high-speed signal a lot. Practically speaking, for the next few years, if you’re on the move, you’re not going to be seeing high-speed 5G. And, even if you are in range of a 5G base station, anything — and I mean anything — can block its high-frequency signal. Window glass, for instance, can stop it dead. So, you could have a 5G transceiver literally on your street corner and not be able to get a good signal. How bad is this? NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s top mobile phone service provider, is working on a new kind of window glass, just so their mmWave 5G will work. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to shell out a few grand to replace my windows just to get my phone to work.

Let’s say, though, that you’ve got a 5G phone and you’re sure you can get 5G service — what kind of performance can you really expect? According to Washington Post tech columnist Geoffrey A. Fowler, you can expect to see a “diddly squat” 5G performance… [“roughly the same as on 4G LTE,” while some places “actually have been slower.”] It wasn’t just him, since he lives in that technology backwater known as the San Francisco bay area. He checked with several national firms tracking 5G performance. They found that all three major U.S. telecom networks’ 5G isn’t that much faster than 4G. Indeed, OpenSignal reports that U.S. 5G users saw an average speed of 33.4Mbps. Better than 4G, yes, but not “Wow! This is great!” speeds most people seem to be dreaming of. It’s also, I might add, much worse than any other country using 5G, with the exception of the United Kingdom.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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