Usually, once a trade show or conference is over, it becomes history very quickly and we move on to the next one. However, it seems that the last Mobile World Congress (MWC) just keeps on giving. I get references to it, still, in my feeds. However, I am not convinced it is as much due to the “awesomeness” of it, as using it to keep up the 5G hype.
The overwhelming message that came out of the last couple of MWCs has been 5G. However, and I am sure I will hear about this statement, ALL of it is still a test bed, regardless of what vendors claim.
What got me going on this was the recent entry into the 5G “fourth estate” arena by various organizations that have had a presence in 5G all along, but not in the editorial sense. And with that comes the challenge to come at 5G from a direction that is not redundant.
Of late, there is a flurry of noise about 5G from all sides. It seems that, as 2018 is well underway there better be some meat behind all the 2017 5G noise that 2018 was going to be the year of 5G, not 2020. Some examples are the announcements of Verizon’s rolling out 5G millimeter wave fixed wireless access in many cities, AT&T’s 5G mobile service, as well as T-Mobile’s promise for dual-band 600 MHz and 28 GHz 5G rollout (but not until next year. However, this is still just hype. There are no commercial deployments and I have my doubts that any commercial deployments this year will really hit more than the edges of 5G.
However, that is OK. It makes total sense that such a revolutionary evolution of a world-wide infrastructure will take time and roll out, and in stages. I am all good with that.
Our industry is filled with bright minds. They know what, and how long it will take to put a 5G umbrella in place (± 10 percent, as we engineers like to say about e=mc2). That is one of the reasons I dislike seeing statements like “5G will arrive sooner than we think.” Or “5G will be rolling out it 2018.” Yes, parts of it will, but these kinds of statements are taking journalistic license – headlines to grab eyeballs. It is fine in the “if it bleeds, it leads” media. But we are professional, knowledgeable technology people. We deliver technical knowledge and parroting what vendors say is not good technical journalism.
Of late, I have seen our media call some of this 5G hype on the carpet, as well as some vendors admitting that some of the goals of 5G this year are lofty. Good for them! I heard AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson acknowledged device availability would be a hurdle in a plan to launch mobile 5G service this year. However, he got realistic by saying the operator would use a dedicated device to get around the problem.
We all are aware that vendors have no compunction about stretching the truth to gain visibility or try to push product. That is the sales way. But it is our mandate to call it like it is. I get that vendors need to keep the pump primed while technology develops. That is where hype hurts us because it sets up expectations that often times cannot be met.
I have said this before and I will say it again. What I want to hear from vendors and experts is reality, not hype, not embellishment. While some end users may want to early adopt “near 5G” for various reasons, the majority of the people I talk to would rather see facts and realistic timelines that they can plan against.
3GPP was under tremendous pressure to get the spec out. They came up with the non-stand-alone new radio (NSA-NR) early spec to relieve the pressure. However, there was, and rightfully so, controversy around it. That is the type of pressure that put on the industry when early “hyperbole” makes claims based solely on theoretical acumen.
One of these new entrants makes the comment that they believe that we shouldn’t underestimate the industry’s ability to rollout 5G and IoT and that it will be here before most think. The rationalization was that originally we were not going to see 5G until 2020, but deployments will come in 2018. This was based upon data obtained from a vendor at the recent MWC who is releasing a slew of the Internet of Anything/Everything (IoX) modules.
OK, fine. Vendors are releasing product daily, and they are all better, faster, lower power, more agile, smarter, smaller, cheaper, yada, yada, and any number of other advances. In this case, they were just improving on what has already existed. Does that mean 5G or the IoX has arrived? The same holds true for narrowband IoT, massive machine-type communication (mMTC) enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) and more.
All of this is evolving technology. The ultimate goal of 5G and the IoX is to seamlessly and transparently connect all things wirelessly. Hype costs money and in the highly competitive landscapes of 5G and the IoX, that does not help get the technology it out there any faster, or right the first time.
Executive Editor/Applied Wireless Technology
His 20-plus years of editorial experience includes being the Editorial Director of Wireless Design and Development and Fiber Optic Technology, the Editor of RF Design, the Technical Editor of Communications Magazine, Cellular Business, Global Communications and a Contributing Technical Editor to Mobile Radio Technology, Satellite Communications, as well as computer-related periodicals such as Windows NT. His technical writing practice client list includes RF Industries, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Agilent Technologies, Advanced Linear Devices, Ceitec, SA, and others. Before becoming exclusive to publishing, he was a computer consultant and regularly taught courses and seminars in applications software, hardware technology, operating systems, and electronics. Ernest’s client list has included Lucent Technologies, Jones Intercable, Qwest, City and County of Denver, TCI, Sandia National Labs, Goldman Sachs, and other businesses. His credentials include a BS, Electronic Engineering Technology; A.A.S, Electronic Digital Technology. He has held a Colorado Post-Secondary/Adult teaching credential, member of IBM’s Software Developers Assistance Program and Independent Vendor League, a Microsoft Solutions Provider Partner, and a life member of the IEEE. He has been certified as an IBM Certified OS2 consultant and trainer; WordPerfect Corporation Developer/Consultant and Lotus Development Corporation Developer/Consultant. He was also a first-class FCC technician in the early days of radio. Ernest Worthman may be contacted at: [email protected].