Inconvenient Truth: Real 5G Little Better Than Decent 4G

The average 2019 4G download speed across 20,000 PC Mag tests in 30 Canadian cities was over 200 Mbps down. The latency was less than 30 ms. The average in Vancouver was over 300 Mbps.

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The majority of independent tests of 5G outside Asia are slower than 200 Mbps. Verizon reports 5G latency of 30 ms. (I’ve actually seen some Verizon latency tests in the 20-27 ms range, including 4G and 5G.) 20 gigabit speed and 1 ms latency are mostly fantasies outside the lab for years.

Putting it bluntly, the difference between 2019 4G and 2019 5G is insignificant, except for the very few sites with millimetre wave. For the next several years, the improvements in 5G performance will be modest, except where Edge servers are installed.

There are 0 major use cases/applications that need 5G rather than decent 4G that are likely to reach volume for years, with the possible exception of AR/VR to mobile phones or surprisingly rapid development of 5G controlled factories.

All the studies that claim a large economic payoff from 5G based on supposed new uses. If new u implies any claim of major economic advantage is b_______.

I can provide numerous confirming datapoints. For example, the average latency across three carriers in Singapore in 2019 was less than 30 ms.

5G is good stuff for the industry, adding needed capacity, especially the mid-band spectrum. It can actually make money for telcos, because customers want to buy it. The cost of deploying 5G is actually modest; NTT DOCOMO, Verizon, and AT&T are actually cutting capex.

Decent 5G phones are down to $285 (Xiaomi) in China because 9 companies are trying to find a place in a market with room for only 4 or 5. Three more are coming, including Apple. As the low prices reach around the globe, most people will choose to buy 5G phones.

China Telecom estimates it will sell 60 million+ 5G phones in 2020. China Mobile is looking for 100 million. A surprise-free estimate for 5G in 2020 is 210 million subscriptions.

But nearly everything else said about 5G is hype.

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