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5G - Don't Believe the Hype

Brown’s Bytes – Don’t Believe The 5G Hype!

Welcome to Brown’s Bytes! Your weekly insight from Mobliciti’s CTO Andy Brown. Follow #brownsbytes

31st May 2019

For regular readers worried about how I’m getting on with my Mac – fear not dear reader, all is well, and this Byte is being written using Microsoft Word on the Mac.

I will get back to Mac management another week, but I thought it necessary to join in with the hype around the launch of 5G in the UK by EE.

This was big enough to make the TV news last night and was one of the main stories on the BBC website. They even went so far as to live-stream a piece back to the studio over 5G (which was pretty cool). The word “Historic” was used…

I’ve written before about the way 5G is being hyped. What’s interesting for me now is that we’ve seen the first attempt at the commercials for 5G here in the UK.

£54 a month for a 10GB data plan on 5G.

One of the points made in the previous post on 5G was that there was an awful lot of money to be spent rolling it out. That requires serious investment from the carriers, and this tariff is potentially the first warning signs of what is to come.

For comparison, I looked at the consumer EE website this morning at their SIM-only deals on 4G – they’re offering 20GB of data for £21 per month.

Early adopters always pay the price, but even so, this is eye-wateringly expensive.

The elephants in the room

Now putting cost aside, we also have to consider the model of continuing with a small bundle of data. 10GB isn’t very much data at all when on 5G…

In theory, 5G could be capable of a whopping 10Gbps – that is undoubtedly impressive speed. So impressive, that you could, in theory, use up your monthly tariff in 8 seconds! The commercial model simply doesn’t match the technology anymore (in fact it could be argued that 4G is already causing these models to creak at the seams).

The other was the actual speeds being seen by the BBC in their report – they were nowhere near the theoretical limits. In fact, they got approx. 250Mbps – which is faster than 4G, but on a good day I get 80Mbps on the Three network already… it’s not yet quite the step change that’s been hyped. In the real world, they’re already talking about it being 100Mbps on 5G when you’re in a busy location.

Even at that much lower speed, you’ve still potentially used up your monthly allowance in just over 13 minutes!

There’s a reason for this, all that spectrum needs feeding with upgraded infrastructure to support it. In particular, the pipe coming out of the cell location needs to be MUCH bigger. Which costs money – which is driving up the tariffs – catch 22 for adoption maybe?

Of course, 5G is capable of so much more, but it really isn’t something to get excited about just yet.

Oh, and finally the BBC had to delay their live update broadcast over 5G…

Wait for it…

Because they ran out of data!

Love it!!

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