China has invested heavily in 5G research and development, and many leaders in the US want to make 5G more of a priority in order to better compete. Texas Republican Rep. Michael McCaul has introduced a bill that would push the Secretary of State to utilize existing State Department funding to increase the “representation and leadership” of the U.S. with the international telecommunication organizations that set 5G standards.
“China’s majority control of the world’s 5G networks, interconnected devices and cloud storage is a risk we cannot accept,” McCaul told Reuters. “We have to show up and compete with them.”
The Defense Innovation Board recently released a report indicating that China is well ahead of the US in 5G development. “The country that owns 5G will own many of these innovations and set the standards for the rest of the world,” the report stated. “That country is currently not likely to be the United States.”
Verizon’s 5G network may have just launched this year, but they have been planning for it for years. The company started their first prep for 5G over 5 years ago when they made the decision to expand on their own fiber network so that it could eventually be used for backhaul for 5G, eliminating the need to make deals with other fiber owners to utilize their fiber lines. Efforts were made to buy up existing fiber where available, and then they began building out their own fiber lines where needed, a project called One Fiber.
“Back in 2015 is kind of when we kicked off the idea of One Fiber,” said Verizon VP of technology planning and development Kevin N. Smith. Four years later, the program has reached 60 American cities and involves as much as $30 million in monthly spending.
In a report prepared for the US Department of Defense, the Defense Innovation Board indicated that China is well ahead of the US in 5G development. “The country that owns 5G will own many of these innovations and set the standards for the rest of the world,” the report stated. “That country is currently not likely to be the United States.”
China has invested billions into 5G research and development and is dedicated to building out massive networks over the next few years. “Globally, China’s large manufacturers (Huawei and ZTE) are pushing 5G deployment through commercial sales of 5G-enabling equipment and devices primarily for non-standalone networks, and Huawei has already shipped upwards of 10,000 base stations overseas,” the report noted.
Huawei, who is at the forefront of China’s 5G development, is currently considered a security thread in the US and is effectively blacklisted.
T-Mobile has launched their 5G network in 5 cities now, and of course the world wants to know how it compares to the 5G networks launched by other US carriers. Both Verizon and T-Mobile are utilizing high-frequency millimeter wave for their currently-launched cities, which provides amazing speeds but poor coverage. Early adopters of Verizon’s 5G service have reported results that match up with those limitations: the speeds are extremely fast, but coverage drops off very quickly as you move away from the source and in buildings.
To help with those coverage challenges, T-Mobile will be utilizing their 600MHz spectrum network in conjunction with the the high-frequency bands. The lower frequencies penetrate much better for greater coverage, but can’t provide the download speeds that millimeter wave facilitates.
Testers in New York and Chicago have confirmed that T-Mobile’s speeds are about half that of Verizon’s (although still an enormous leap beyond LTE), but that coverage does seem to be better. This tradeoff is something that users will have to consider as the carriers continue to build out their networks.
AT&T has officially expanded their 5G service to Las Vegas. However, like other cities they’ve deployed, 5G service in Las Vegas is currently limited to business customers and select developers only.
Business customers in Las Vegas can sign up for the Business Unlimited Preferred plan for $90 a month, and two 5G-capable devices are available: the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G smartphone and the NETGEAR Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot.
Testers in Las Vegas are reporting speeds upwards of 1gbps on the Samsung Galaxy 5G, making AT&T’s Las Vegas 5G networks one of the fastest yet.
At AT&T’s Shape Conference in Los Angeles this week, attendees were able to test out the carrier’s new 5G network, and the speeds did not disappoint. A CNet tester using a Galaxy S10 5G phone ran 12 tests and achieved speeds over 1Gbps in all 12, and saw speeds over 1.4Gbps in 8 of the 12. At those speeds, downloading a 1.9GB app took the tester less than two and a half minutes, and downloading five hours of video on Netflix took under a minute. This is significantly faster than tests done on Verizon’s and Sprint’s 5G networks.
AT&T’s 5G Plus network won’t be available to consumers until 2020, but the performance is very promising.
5G and Wi-Fi 6 are both emerging technologies that have garnered lots of press in 2019, with proponents of each anticipating the major impact they will have on industries and individuals. Rather than being true competitors, 5G and WiFi 6 will likely each be appropriate for different applications and will actually complement each other in many network setups.
5G is a cellular technology like 4G LTE, operating off cell towers. It will provide much higher speeds with lower latency over LTE, but it requires many more radio access points and does not penetrate buildings well. 5G is currently being rolled out by AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint and is likely to be popular with enterprises as an alternative to traditional fixed-line internet options.
Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is the latest version of Wi-Fi, also offering increased speed and low latency. Wi-Fi 6 is less prone to interference than 5G – but like all Wi-Fi, of course, it requires an internet connection to broadcast (unlike 5G, which is wireless internet itself).
Both of these technologies will likely have a big impact on enterprises that rely on wireless connectivity for devices, employees, and customers.
After months of hype, Sprint has officially turned on their 5G network in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Kansas City. Sprint CTO John Saw spoke with reporters in Dallas, saying “This is probably going to be the largest initial 5G launch in terms of coverage and footprint. This is just the beginning.”
Sprint is hoping that their choice of frequencies used for 5G will separate them from AT&T and Verizon. AT&T and Verizon are using millimeter wave technology for their 5G networks, which allows for great speed but poor coverage, while Sprint is building their 5G network on top of its mid-band 2.5GHz wireless spectrum and also utilizing their LTE Advanced network to provide a combination type of service that should prove to be more reliable.
Sprint will be launching their 5G service in select markets by the end of the month, and starting tomorrow customers in the target cities will be able to preorder a 5G-capable device to use on the new network. The LG V50 ThinQ smartphone will be available for users who want a 5G-capable phone, and the HTC 5G Hub hot spot will be the data-only option. The preorder will open May 17 for users in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Kansas City, and Sprint plans to expand the offering to Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington, DC in the coming weeks.
At the Big 5G Event in Denver, Colorado, Sprint talked about their 5G plans and highlighted how 5G will impact IoT in particular. Mishka Dehghan, vice president of 5G development at Sprint Business, talked about Sprint’s Curiosity IoT platform which will power applications ranging from smart city technologies to applications for the medical field.
Sprint’s 5G service will launch this month in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas.