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5G Is Likely to Put Weather Forecasting at Risk (hackaday.com)
668 points by szczys 34 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 471 comments



While 5G Will be a great boon, especially the beam-forming satellite version, another unintended consequence besides weather remote sensing is nuking the extremely important 24 GHz range (K Band) for radio astronomy. There are a few narrow protected windows for absolutely critical spectral lines, but the truth is that nature doesn't play by the spectrum allocations rules, and there are hundreds if not thousands of lines that are observed routinely outside of the protected bands. It is also remarkably free and clear of radio frequency interference (RFI), in part because industry has chosen other frequencies not attenuated by atmospheric water vapor. This isn't to say we should halt global human progress to save a local river bait fish, but that threat to forecasting is only one of the serious consequences major spectrum reallocation can have. This is especially true for passive use in the sciences, which has a weaker lobby than the private sector.


> While 5G Will be a great boon

This is something I've been having trouble with.

Lately I've become more aware of the secondary effects of 5G- on weather forecasting, on the radio spectrum, possibly on bees- and it's got me wondering why we need it for telecom. I just don't see the value added. I can already communicate with anyone in the world, access any information, and find my way anywhere with 4G. A significantly higher rate of data transfer just doesn't seem to add any new functionality to my phone. Can anyone give me a good rationale for 5G? Entertainment doesn't count.

I'll grant right-off-the-bat that it'll have some fantastic industrial applications; my issue is with personal telecom. It just feels like a new planned obsolescence vector.


I think it's driven by network utilization on the carrier side and battery life on the device manufacturer side. Your monthly 1GB (let's say) usage cap at EDGE speeds translates to around 5 hours of constant connection. At 4G speeds (40Mbps typical for me) that's just 3.41 minutes. If we can get that to 10X for 5G, that's just 20 seconds.

Over the last decade we've gone from using 5 hours of data per subscriber to less than 4 minutes, and potentially down to 20 seconds. Similarly, latency went from 400ms ping to 5ms.

This improves network performance, since the tower is more likely to be available when you need it, and faster too, even if the average throughput and backhaul link remains unchanged. It also improves battery life because the battery is primarily draining during active comm sessions. Get them in faster, serve them faster and back to sleep faster.

Think of it in terms of Apple's MacBook. The finite resource here is more complex as it's both thermal and power. The CPU tops out at an average of 1.3GHz but it has an instantaneous turbo-boost to 3.2GHz. You could say that 1.3GHz is pretty fast and gets the job done, if it represents the same TDP, why bother going faster? The answer is it improves your experience (lower latency on bursty workloads). It also improves your battery life because it's more efficient to spend 1/3 the time at 3.2GHz and 2/3 the time sleeping than the whole time at 1.3GHz. I think Apple described it as "racing to get back to sleep."

Obviously this breaks down with sustained workloads, though I'd argue the same is true of 5G.


Okay sure, but what can you _do_ with that extra throughput is what OP is asking.

You're making the classic IT-guy failure of talking about the technical feature rather than the user outcome (I have had to train myself out of this in recent years so I'm not having a go at you).


I'm confused, he's talking about the user outcome - improved battery life while consuming content. The technical reason is that the modem spends less time active for the same amount of bandwidth.


Cell on my phone contributes like less than 10% of total battery consumption. The most goes to screen and cpu. So there's limited improvement for 5G in this. But for IoT devices in which comms use most of the battery, this could be significant. However, it's debatable whether spending on billions of dollars on a regional 5g network is an optimal solution for a more durable IoT infrastructure. In my understanding, there should be a more economical way to build an efficient IoT infrastructure since most of them don't need that much data speed.


I agree with your point on power consumption and agree that probably doesn't warrant the investment.

I don't work on cellular infrastructure, and don't even work on IoT anymore, but I could imagine that as far as IoT infrastructure is concerned, it might not be that any specific devices need a large amount of throughput to provide their services, but that the aggregate of a potentially very larger number of devices needing access to data services could test the throughput of the collective infrastructure, and redesigning that infrastructure to be able to have more throughput could be key, not to a future with some magical usecase of some specific types of devices, but to a future with a much larger number of simple networked devices working in concert to make the world more efficient in the aggregate.

That said, is the timing right? I don't know. It does kind of seem like it is driven more by politics than technical necessity.


If given that most people charge their phone once a day and doesn't actually need more battery efficiency, and battery efficiency is the only benefit, are there then no actual benefit from 5G?


Unless one day you could charge your phone once every two days? Or once a week! Like back in the day of the 3310, which had 22 hours of talk time and 31 days of standby. Or you could make the phone smaller/lighter/faster with the extra efficiency. I'm having trouble believing someone here on HN is arguing against improving technology.

I sometimes forget to plug my phone in, maybe after traveling, maybe after drinking haha. I'm already super glad my phone will make it through a second day. Back in the iPhone 3G days? Not so much.


Smaller/lighter/faster phones and battery banks are already available, without 5g. Why do you need 5g specifically? It's value has to exceed the value it destroys. Not all tech developments are net improvements.


Because they'll be even smaller/lighter/faster. That's what efficiency gets you. 5G is more efficient. There's really nothing else to say.


So is it worth rolling out globally a very expensive new network which will cause negative externalities for that?


That depends on whether the expected benefits greatly exceeds the costs of the new network and can offset the supposed negative externalities.

   expected benefits >> costs + supposed negative externalities


You could just as easily have switched those words and that would make just as much sense.

supposed benefits << cost and expected negitive externalities


And that is why everyone is asking the question, rather than blindly accepting 5G as a desirable thing.


This all seems kind of funny to me because these are almost the exact same arguments on why power lines are bad. They kill trees, they kill bugs, they cause kids to be hyper, they cause kids to be depressed, they cause cancer, they misalign the resonant frequency of your brain. A hundred years later I still hear the same arguments but never once has anything borne out.

Can I get an argument against the 5G standard that doesn't amount to, "This may cause harm through an unknowable secondary mechanism despite roughly 100 years of evidence that it is safe."


Infrastructure is intrusive and imposes problems on the poorest people and wildlife who are forced to live near it, I'm not sure why you find that funny. The difference is people need power, not 5g.

If you don't need it then why would you do it? There is no need for an argument to not waste money on useless infrastructure. E.g. Why not build only 4 lane highways instead of a side streets? Because it's unnecessary.

The burden is on you to justify the expense and I don't see any clear justifications as to how this is in anyone's best interest outside of the telcos and <5% of users.


I don't think I need to justify a private company spending private funds but since you insist,

According to Pew Research, 95% of Americans own cellphones. 75% of the world population owns cellphones. When you include other mobile networked devices that number goes up if only a little. Any infrastructure improvement to the wireless telecom infrastructure will benefit the vast majority of the world's population. Even people who insist on using 4G will see major benefits due to less congestion as people migrate over to 5G systems and guess what, the 5G standard includes keeping the 4G system intact and running so this isn't a planned obsolescence but purely an expansion of capability!

Historically, nearly all infrastructure development has yielded significant positive returns not just for the capital holders (Telco's) but for the users as well. While we can certainly extend additional 4G coverage, 5G has a significant number of technical improvements that allow for better backhaul network and network management. Once the initial development costs are paid, there is no reason not to use 5G access standards over 4G.

Most of the 5G mmWave standards are backhaul for the foreseeable future. These enable low cost, low latency deployments to areas which are currently undeserved because of the costs of deployment. This is important because it enables technologies like tele-robotics. It would allow rural areas to invest in a surgical robot at their local hospital and have an expert surgeon working from a more prominent location potentially saving lives.

There are standards for out of channel spectral masks to prevent problems like (including specifically) the one postulated in the article. There exposure standards for safety that the military has been researching for decades as part of their radar work in the mmWave band. I've yet to see any concerns that were not specious and certainly not from anyone familiar with the technology. Most of the concerns are just repeated talking points from dozens of other older technologies that never showed any substance with a helping of, "It's different THIS time." So, you're right, it's not funny, it's sad to see people on Hacker News arguing that 2010 was the ideal level of technology and we shouldn't bother trying to develop more. Hell, it's literally the same argument Comcast makes on why broadband standards shouldn't be raised. "What people have is good enough and they don't want more so you can't justify the costs to improve!"


You're right about the money argument. However, everyone is effected by this infrastructure so the roll out should require some justification regardless of who's money it is.

The 95% of people who own cell phones don't necessarily need internet faster than 4g on their phones and would be happy with that working reliability, which it doesn't.

>It enables technologies like tele-robotics. It would allow rural areas to invest in a surgical robot.

That sounds good and all, but shouldn't we just build out the fiber network so that we have actually reliable infrastructure instead of janky bullshit running on a proprietary cellular modem? What level of reliability should a surgical robot be? I'd say 9 9's for myself to use it. Can a cell signal transmit perfectly 99.9999999% of the time with those low latency numbers ? I don't think so since it's relying on atmospheric conditions and no interference to function.

Ironically, 5G will further reduce incentive for the clearly useful technology of fiber to be deployed at scale.


Everyone buying new phones and changing the infrastructure for marginal gains sounds super efficient.


That will happen anyways.


That's a technical feature. The user outcome is fuzzy because you don't know really how weather prediction interference and increased RFI will play out for users.


Those are externalities unrelated to the phone or experience with it. I'm confident if 5G is widely deployed and it causes the stated problems we'll find a new way to predict the weather.


Do you study atmospheric analysis? Weather prediction is not great currently and the weather is getting more volatile.

Why should someone be allowed to implement a design at scale without testing and solving the downstream problems first? That's not how engineering works.


Okay I have 10% extra battery life - what can I do with that I’m not already doing?

Extra battery life is a feature, not an outcome.


The outcome is your phone lasts longer. And your experience with it improves as the network is more available when you need it.


My phone lasts longer and that lets me _____

Nobody is wandering around wanting their phone to last longer purely for that sake.


Lets you use your phone for longer between charges. You're acting like battery life isn't a user feature, but it is: companies advertise heavily on it, and it can often be a differentiator between midrange and premium phones.

You're looking for a user story where only looking at the corollary makes it obvious that battery life enables everything else.

Suppose you shipped a phone with 99% less battery life than its competitors. You could, at trivial expense, increase your 1% to 10%, your engineers propose how to do so.

You reply, "My phone lasts longer and that lets me _____".

To which your engineers reply, "Use your phone?"


The fact that the almost exact same conversations happened with the advent of broadband, mobile data, 3G, 3G+, 4G should give you a hint.


Perhaps you could just come out and say it?


We did. Many times. Each time there's a generational shift in wireless technology some people come out and say it's good enough, we're done here, nothing new to make, why do you bother with all this effort. Then we do. And life improves, our experience with technology improves, and we get used to it. Then the cycle repeats itself.

Grab an iPhone 3G and use it for a few days. That's what going back from 5G to 4G will be 5 years from now. Just as it is going back from 4G to 3G today. You've just gotten used to how good things are.


I see you're getting frustrated with me because I'm not willing to accept that because it happened in the past, it will always happen in the future.

I just set my phone to 3G, where I'm getting a speed test of 15mbps about 1/10th what I get on 4G typically.

Everything seems to work the same way it did on 4G. Actually I'm surprised by that because I thought 4G had been a bigger improvement.


Demand for wireless broadband services isn’t static, it’s rapidly growing. It’s not just that 5G will let us do things 4G can’t. It’s that it will let us do the same things but a lot more of it, before the networks become too congested and demand outstrips supply.


You are the first person to actually nail it - well done!

That's a sale-able outcome: more and more people are using the spectrum so if we don't upgrade to a more efficient use then the outcomes you currently enjoy (video chat, gaming, virtual desktops whatever it is you do and value) will stop working because of the traffic.


> a lot more of it

avidity I say


Like what?


The same thing you do now but more efficient.


Define efficient? Nothing I currently do now reaches the limits of even half of my current connection.


From a power and network utilization perspective. It feels like you're not really trying.


So I'm using the network more efficiently... how does that improve my life?


I kinda agree. 4G feels "fast enough" to me, just like PCs have become pretty much "fast enough" about a decade ago.

I'd rather see more work put into usability than in even higher speeds.


The funny thing with the internet is that the content really doesn't ntake up that much space/speed. It's the ads and trackers. So that's why the industry is lobbying for that.

Also, We still haven't even hit theoretical 3g speeds. But reallocation of spectrum is a quick easy way to get there without doing the work.


> the content really doesn't ntake up that much space/speed

video streaming


> Entertainment doesn't count.


Not all video streaming is for entertainment. Case in point: security cameras.


On the other hand, discouraging wireless security cameras is a benefit because they have poor security properties. Wireless exposes the cameras to attack by anyone within wireless range rather than requiring the attacker to have physical access, and also allows an attacker to disable the cameras with a wireless jammer.


They do indeed have poor security properties, but sometimes it's the only viable option. For example, you might need to setup a camera in some outdoor spot that's too far for a wired connection to be practical (Ethernet only runs so far, and I ain't aware of very many cameras that use fiber), in which case a wireless connection and a solar panel might very well be the way you'd have to go.

Also, wired connections (especially outdoor ones) have a tendency to be vulnerable to things like wire cutters or fiber-seeking backhoes. I'd imagine a competent security system implementer would find some way to physically secure the cable as best as possible, but given that a wireless jammer is a much more sophisticated attack strategy than, say, some snips or an "accidental" strike by some piece of equipment, going wireless might be a viable tradeoff.


> For example, you might need to setup a camera in some outdoor spot that's too far for a wired connection to be practical (Ethernet only runs so far, and I ain't aware of very many cameras that use fiber), in which case a wireless connection and a solar panel might very well be the way you'd have to go.

Cameras that use fiber exist, but you could also just use an ethernet camera and a fiber to ethernet converter.

> Also, wired connections (especially outdoor ones) have a tendency to be vulnerable to things like wire cutters or fiber-seeking backhoes.

I once encountered a survivalist who would always carry a length of fiber optic cable with him, that way if he was ever hopelessly lost in the wilderness he needed only to bury the fiber and a backhoe would be along promptly to dig it up.

One solution in those cases is to use directional wireless, which is harder to jam, but then you're back to not needing 5G.

If it's important enough you can also attach a storage device directly to the camera so that if there is a temporary network interruption the data isn't lost.

Of course, you also have the trouble that the cameras themselves tend to be vulnerable to things like rocks. Securing something which is out in the open is hard.

> given that a wireless jammer is a much more sophisticated attack strategy than, say, some snips or an "accidental" strike by some piece of equipment

Jamming wireless is not really that sophisticated. It's both easy an inexpensive to do it. The main impediment is that the legal penalties can be rather severe, but criminals are not well known for their fastidious adherence to the law.


As anyone who's ever played one of the recent editions of Shadowrun well knows.

For those who haven't, Shadowrun is a fantasy/cyberpunk RPG, and since the most recent two editions, everything is wireless. Everything. Cameras, locks, guns, you name it. Which makes it a lot of fun for a hacker to brick an opponent's gun in the middle of combat. Or, of course, use a security camera's wireless connection to get into the larger system behind it.

I hope real world security will be more sensible than that, but signs are not encouraging.


Are cybernetics wireless too in Shadowrun? If so, it would mean a hacker could also directly attack cybered enemies, like shutting down cybernetic eyes to blind someone, force a leg to trip its owner or an arm to punch its owner.


A few are explicitly wireless because they need to connect wirelessly to other things, like an implanted comlink, cyberdeck or rigger system.

But I believe the rule or gentleman's agreement in Shadowrun is that something you paid Essence for (you pay Essence for cyberware and bioware) is part of you and cannot be hacked. Though I believe there have been adventures where for plot reasons it was possible. Shadowrun is not entirely consistent in that regard, I'm afraid.


It’s a pretty flexible game system. A good GM would allow it I think, but with a high difficulty rating for hacking it.


I feel like they answered their own question, entertainment does count.


It's also every useless TCP connection because stupid site providers chose to load stuff from Google instead of the page they currently have the connection open. Easily adds 3 RTT, maybe even an additional 4 if you use TLS.


It's pretty expensive though. I pay $10/GB (marginal) for Google Fi. That doesn't really scale to streaming HD video. I imagine a roomier higher-frequency spectrum would help get contention down and lower costs.


Google Fi is the exception, not the rule. You can get "unlimited data" LTE for $60+ with other carriers. (e.g. T-Mobile One is $70 for a single line)

Google Fi is for people who mostly use wi-fi. (I use Google Fi)


"Unlimited" plans just hope that not too many people use a lot of data. But if you're really one of the people who doesn't use much data, you might as well use a plan which charges per gigabyte, and then you're exposed to the real per-gigabyte cost. Market forces therefore keep the cost of unlimited plans roughly in line, and the per-gigabyte cost is still relevant even for unlimited plans.


https://www.t-mobile.com/offers/mydatausage

T-Mobile is “unlimited data” until 50GB, then they limit your speed.


50GB is pretty generous. Not truly unlimited, but I could definitely live with that.


It's one blu-ray worth of data. Mobile data has really lowered people's expectations about internet connectivity a lot, relative to the improvement curve that we got used to last decade with wired connectivity.


The improvement curve for my mobile data is much steeper than my home broadband. Only recently and by installing an ugly looking microwave satellite on my home has my wired broadband exceeded my t-mobile LTE speeds. For a long time on DSL my phone battery would die trying to upload stuff to the cloud because DSL upload speeds are so bad. I’m a heavy mobile user and I’ve never hit my 50GB limit, it’s high enough that as long as I use WiFi when it’s available I don’t have to think about data caps which only exist to reduce congestion. And the data caps keep going up every year. My home broadband has a soft cap of 1.5TB which has grown much slower than my mobile soft cap. I expect 5G to finally bust the “unlimited data for everything but tethering” problem and at that point I can ditch the microwave satellite altogether.


Yes, but this is only because home broadband has essentially stalled. If you look at what's happening in areas where there is a market for wired net bandwidth, computers are connected at around 100G speeds. Yeah, server environments traditionally always had better networking, but you can chop off an order of magnitude or two to account for this, and still the comparison shows how consumer wired is stalled.


Project Fi is a little more expensive but can be used as an unlimited plan at $80/mo for a single line, as they stop charging for data after 6GB.


It is political problem. Currently using my unlimited 4g plan which cost about 15 euros and fast.com gives 49mb/s and I live literally middle of nowhere.


We need to advance all parameters of our technology stack.. changes are incremental and take time, it'll be many years before 5G is widely available.

5G as I've understood it also more about latency.


Parkinson's Law. Increase in 5G bandwidth will be filled with next-gen media.

Cable boxes will be replaced by subsidized free smartphones in exchange for "always on" subscriptions. No more home WiFi for low-end market.

Personally, the industrial 5G IoT applications are far more interesting.


>Parkinson's Law. Increase in 5G bandwidth will be filled with next-gen media.

Perhaps, Jevons paradox might be more apt in this case, as huge investments in 5G Infrastructure indicate that 4G/LTE efficiency/usage ratio has peaked.

Nevertheless, any nascent demand for next-gen media in the next few years can be served via 5G NR, Wi-Fi 6 and inter-related standards like Wi-Fi HaLow,Vantage etc.[1] and Blutetooth 5 with synergistic and overlapping features, until 'real' 5G establishes itself, sometime in the next decade.[2][3]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jevons_paradox

https://www.computerweekly.com/microscope/opinion/A-modern-t...

[1] https://www.wi-fi.org/discover-wi-fi/wi-fi-certified-6

[2] https://www.networkworld.com/article/3342158/cisco-exec-deta...

[3]https://www.wsj.com/articles/from-wi-fi-to-bluetooth-to-5g-a...


I don't think consumers are expecting more efficiency from 5G; therefore no paradox when actual consumption exceeds expectations.

Insert any VHS vs BetaMax or AC vs DC historical lesson here. The best tech does not always win.

If carriers, smartphone makers, and chipset manufacturers all agree on 5G, then 5G will "win".


My comment was from the perspective of the stakeholders i.e. governments/academia/spectrum holders, various steering groups/SIG/committees, policy makers, environmentalists, OEM's, chip designers/fabs, banks, telcos et al., who are not only aware of the challenges ahead but have to be fully invested and efficiency matters. [1]

They could adopt the default position suggested by you and do nothing; it will certainly be favourable and indeed profitable for all the incumbents in the short term, but they will only be postponing the inevitable. A new generation of mobile standard is a well-trodden path, from the beginning of 1980's with the advent of 1st Generation of wireless telecommunications and every decade since then. It is without a doubt paved with riches and there will be winners and losers ─ however, the biggest driver has been innovation and not just about the 'win' and to suggest that 5G might fail is pure fantasy.

It is a non-sequitur to compare stand-alone video formats with a constellation of technological advancements, encompassing a multitude of disciplines, which have had a profound impact on us.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nljwtkdHAYw


We're already in a state of doing nothing. The progressive view is pushing for 5G upgrades and breaking the cable box model.


While cable boxes could be replaced by subsidized smartphones, my question is "Why?". A wired connection will always be less capricious than a wireless one [citation needed], so if your TV is in a fixed position there's no benefit. At best, you could get a little bit of flexibility w/in your domicile, but wouldn't this problem be better solved with better wiring? And who moves their frequently TV anyways?

Also, before anybody comments something about 5G helping out in broadband deserts, I'd argue that point is invalidated by the reduced penetration depth due to the much higher frequency of 5G. Let's just invest in rural broadband instead


A smartphone can probably deliver better-personalized ads since it can be tracked to an individual person. No benefit to the consumer, really.


We as a society, might benefit more, but, like socialized healthcare, that's not how the market works. The bandwidth to support renting out smartphones-as-hotspots for home wifi connections will make Verizon wireless and AT&T quite happy (at Comcast's expense), so the question is less "why", and more "who, and for how much"?


> Personally, the industrial 5G IoT applications are far more interesting.

IoT applications are typically very low-bandwidth. The main issue is cost and power usage.


That's one of the big use cases of 5G though. Having a huge number of low-bandwidth subscribers


We've got existing low power, low bandwidth, long range systems. What do you think 5G can improve here?


How many devices can these systems handle?


Depends what you want to do, how you want to communicate, do you broadcast / mesh, uni/bi directional, etc. It's a "how long is a piece of string" situation.

From cheap, slow, long range deployments like LoRa (100 devices sending tens of bytes) to satellite broadcast (any number of synchronised devices), and a few things in between.


> next-gen media

What does this mean? Something beyond video? VR?


If the bandwidth is available then people will find a way to fill it. Streaming games, higher res video, remote terminals replacing low end PC hardware, who knows?


Good point, though I'll note that streaming games, high-res video, and remote terminals are already available (at least via high-speed ethernet connections), so the "next generation" would be higher quality or wider availability rather than genuinely new forms of media.

My instinct is that there are diminishing returns past a certain point. We're certainly not there yet, but once cellular networks allow you to stream high-definition VR content and upload data at the same rate, it seems like there's nothing more that additional bandwidth could add.

I see it as a philosophical issue... bandwidth is for the transmission of information, and there's only so much information that a human being can receive and provide at a given moment. At some point you're running up against the maximum bandwidth of the human user.


> once cellular networks allow you to stream high-definition VR content and upload data at the same rate, it seems like there's nothing more that additional bandwidth could add.

Well there is this famous quote "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." from 1943 and it turned out to be very wrong.

"High-definition VR content" isn't the same as "indistinguishable from reality". When movies were first introduced to theaters, with small frames per second rates, without color and without any sound on the medium itself, people were quite stunned and e.g. took cover when a the movie showed a train approaching at high speeds. Nowadays it seems primitive to us from a technological standpoint.

There is a trend that some people don't accept lossy audio encoding. Maybe one day, videos will get a same trend and people want lossless videos, in full 360 degree VR, intensity resolution beyond perceptual limits and constantly high enough angular resolution for your eyes to foveate any area of the screen and see no pixels. That's quite a huge amount of data to transmit. Add in buffering so that you can seek, etc.

As for genuinely new forms of media, I could think of some: full-body experiences with feeling of touch, smell, etc either live or recorded possibly professional in a studio or just you sharing your last vacation to venice.

Taking it further: uploading your consciousness to a body which is a large distance away, making physical travel of humans mostly obsolete: Maybe one day we can represent the brains of human individuals as data and send it with light speed around the earth and throughout space.


So here's an example of "next gen" media streaming in action. I was recently at a MotoGP race. MotoGP has a streaming media app that allows for you to stream cams from your favorite racers on your mobile device in very high quality. This would be really cool to use for the many hours of racing throughout the day at the race track, but while its technically possible with current technology for me to do it the cost is prohibitive. With significantly higher throughput per tower, the cost of data should significantly be reduced, making it really cheap to have a crowd of people at the race track have a few 1080p each.


On-demand streaming of identical content to hundreds of users at the same time is not an efficient use of bandwidth.

It's like Netflix versus cable television - you can push the equivalent of hundreds of 1080p streams through a broadcast cable television, but attempting to push on-demand IP packets to an equivalent number of subscribers would bog down horrifically if they even attempted to stream a single show (let alone how you have cable tuners that can tune multiple shows at once).

What you need there is something much more akin to broadcast television - either a digital OTA video broadcast (good ol' digital television), or a microcell using multicast to broadcast a stream to any interested party.

(of course your phone probably doesn't have a DTV tuner, but when a RTL-SDR dongle is like $20, you should probably be asking why your phone isn't integrating that functionality. These days they don't even have FM tuners on phones anymore... despite the fact that in virtually all cases those are already built into the cellular chipset. IP-based singlecast is not a good paradigm for a lot of the use-cases that people come up with, it's just that it's the most profitable one for carriers, so it's the only one they'll support.)


In this instance its not all identical content though. In this example, each bike has three cameras, along with a dozen or so camera angles around the track. Users can pick and choose a lot of those different views and combine a hybrid view of their own personal choosing.

Of course, this could also be accomplished with DTV tuners, but there's a much higher probability of users having a 5G chipset on their phone than having a DTV tuner capable of tuning to multiple channels and an antenna.


So essentially you want you want an app that lets you pick a couple multicast groups to add yourself to, and then displays them in this "hybrid view of their choosing".

It's the same as what the app is currently doing, just with multicast groups instead of singlecast. And by doing so, you reduce the network load by N/M, where N is the number of users and M is the number of streams each user runs on average.

Don't get me wrong, I understand that this probably isn't currently implemented, but that's the kind of thing we should be looking at, before we decide to screw up weather forecasting and radioastronomy so that you can see your NAAAYYSSSCARR.

Even 5G is going to get eaten up under certain types of load, so it makes much more sense to look at ways to reduce traffic, the easiest of which is broadcasting rather than singlecast.


"...before we decide to screw up weather forecasting and radioastronomy so that you can see your NAAAYYSSSCARR."

This isn't the place for cheap comments like that.

Even if you have a point ideologically speaking we live in the real world where consumer money talks louder than forum comments. 5G is coming whether we like it or not because of people wanting to stream data for entertainment.


I guess that we can revisit that if weather forecasting does become substantially less reliable. And with global climate change, maybe we'll need reliable weather forecasting. But me, I'll be dead before it gets too bad, dog willing.


When hot dogs at sports stadiums cost $10 a pop, why do you think 1080p streams would be cheap?


It is dependent on supply/demand and business model. You could have asked the same thing when Google/Yahoo as a search engine came into play "why do you think the knowledge of millions would be widely available and relatively cheap/"free"?


The stadium has a monopoly on hot dogs and event streaming, so they can gouge you til their heart's content.


So we up the bandwidth, something like Elon’s NueraLink.


For how long? Is there a saturation and pull-back at some point?

Personally, I used my home gigabit extensively the first few months... but a year later I frequently find myself still tethered to my cellphone's 4G plan. It doesn't make a difference except once in a blue moon when I want to download something big.


More like AR, if you can run a computationally complex AR environment in the cloud and stream it in realtime to thin client devices it reduces the requirements for portable glasses etc.


Pretty bold predictions, I'd say. People still buy cable even with the rise of a half dozen streaming platforms and as long as you have to buy internet from a cable company, people will still be cowed into buying cable. Comcast (or anyone else, they all play the same exact game) can just make internet only packages egregiously expensive unless you also buy a cable subscription because many customers don't have another telecom option, and lawmakers are on the telecoms side.

5G is also going to need to have better coverage than anything ever made before if its to replace in home wifi. As it stands I drop calls when I walk into different rooms of my house on the data connection. 4G drops to 3G or even edge all the time going in and out or between buildings. That being said, I'm waiting to see what route telecoms pounce on to force us into 5G use. Will they degrade other data connections or go the planned obsolescence route? Either way, they are going to get their return, this isn't done out of technical altruism.


I would adopt a 5G to Ethernet/WiFi router just for the ability to drop Comcast. I would pay a premium to drop Comcast, but I don't have any other high-speed options. They have been so incredibly horrible. What I really want is some means, any means, to have a reliable high-speed connection that doesn't require 20+ hours on the phone and multiple service calls to admit that the connection from their box to my house is faulty. Being able to take my "home" connection with me on the road is just a side-benefit.

Edit: that said, I would probably also be pretty happy with a 4G plan that I could use for this purpose.


4G LTE is already able to deliver well over 100 MBit/s of internet connectivity, if deployed sufficiently.


Less prediction and more observation of what is already taking shape in Asia.

Anti zero-rating laws prevent broader adoption in U.S. (and possibly for good reason. Can't have 2-3 pay-for-play gatekeeping apps to the Internet)


>Personally, the industrial 5G IoT applications are far more interesting.

Which are?


That's the crazy thing. Almost nobody asked for 5G. And certainly not our health. Their basically just stuffing this down our throats in the name of money.

There's an international petition [0] and one in Switzerland [1] that I know of - please sign if you agree.

[0] https://www.5gspaceappeal.org/

[1] https://www.change.org/p/p%C3%A9tition-contre-la-5g-et-ses-d...


I agree. I have yet to see any solid argument for 5G being a some sort of game-changer for the end user.


I thought it was just me with the "who cares about 5G" attitude. Just give me better 4G coverage. Give me another tower in my area so my cell service isn't out while they work on the only one that serves me. Give me coverage that works at my neighbor's house too. I have poor coverage, but 700 feet away he doesn't have service.


5G won't even get you better coverage, that's more a question of which frequencies are used. Some European countries are freeing up the 700 to 800MHz spectrum which can help, but that's not really a 5G issue I believe.

The high frequency ranges suggested for 5G seems useless, they'll barely be able to penetrate windows.

Increased coverage would be far more helpful than faster speed in most countries.


I'm partially with you there. I think it's partly that IoT will require higher bandwidth as there will be so many more devices. However, when I visit my mum in Wales it's really difficult to get a signal at all - even in the nearest town it can be annoyingly patchy. And there are many rural places with the same problems. Instead of spending millions nothing the speeds of the digital haves, why not spend to get a reliable service to the digital have-nots first?


I don't understand the IoT craze. My light switches work just fine, and if I really wanted to operate them remotely, I'd just get a clapper. A clapper is a lot more convenient than pulling out my smartphone and poking at the screen. I don't want my Roomba sending iRobot information about my home to sell to data brokers. I don't want my refrigerator telling my insurance company how much cheese I eat.

But suppose I wasn't a neoluddite and I was easily excited by digital salt shakers. As it stands, all of these products could be using wifi, which would still give me, the consumer, the ability to firewall them. That would let me access them on my LAN without letting them talk on the internet. The idea of putting 5G radios in them instead of wifi radios seems to be to deprive me, the consumer, of the opportunity to firewall them.


You are looking at IoT the same way some folks looked at the internet and smartphone at its inception. Demographics will change and so will the perception of people. It is possible that IoT will help refrigerators be less energy intensive depending on the produce inside, that heaters in cars and homes will turn on only when a family member is arriving at home, that food will be heated before you arrive home. The list of possibilities go on and on. The individual/companies will have to decide the amount they will trade for the IoT benefits they get.


When I come home, I can have food heated up for me already. It's called a slow cooker. I don't need a 5G radio in my slow cooker for that to work. And what a 5G radio can't do is get the meat balls out of my freezer and into that slow cooker. Similarly thermostats on timers are older than cell phones.

If you want an automatically adjusting fridge, that can and should be implemented without the cell radio too. Put a RFID chips in food packaging that requests a particular temperature; the fridge then sets itself to the lowest temperature requested. A fridge that instead broadcasts the contents of your fridge to some corporation that does not have your best interests at heart is an abomination, but I do not doubt that whichever corporation starts selling them will try to mask this by framing their spy devices as ecologically friendly to make it seem morally unassailable.


Agreed. Honestly, I don't understand the 5G hype. Moreover, if a device has an embedded transceiver I don't control the network it's connected too. I literally lose control over the device. Short of shutting it off or damaging the transceiver.


I already have my laptop ensuring all my lights and a space heater are off when I leave (detected by my phone's bluetooth), just in case I forgot. And this is with extremely simple plug-in outlets.


You're thinking of IoT as only personal home electronics. IoT might encompass a lot more, such as more connected fleet vehicles, infrastructure pipelines (water, gas, sewage, etc), traffic systems, and potentially a lot more.


Infrastructure can be wired, and there are only ~260 million registered road vehicles in America (most of which are not fleet vehicles.)


Infrastructure can be wired, but it is also extremely costly. Just ask Google the costs of trenching up city streets to lay new cable. True, new infrastructure could be built to handle this new cabling requirement, but then we're at the same place we're at now with such tasks being prohibitively expensive for anything currently deployed.


More available bandwidth ultimately means higher data caps at lower (or the same) cost.


That result would go completely against the well-established behavior of the cell companies, at least in the US.


Not really... while prices do not generally go down[1], $$/GB does tend to trend down over time. The important thing to the business ultimately is revenue/investment, not revenue/GB.

[1] I have to also say generally, as some of the MVNOs do tend to lower data prices over time. There are some bargains to be had there, just with lower network prioritization.


Ah, I see. You and I are just valuing things differently. Personally, I don't care about cost/MB nearly as much as I care about the "Amount Due" line of my bill.


Yeah, I definitely see that perspective. But I also see the trendline of our usage steadily increasing, and the older pricing models would get amazingly expensive for heavier users.

As it is, there are some cheaper options as well (eg, consumer cellular or other MVNOs).


re: " I can already communicate with anyone in the world, "

Summing up some of the other comments: 5G isn't about (personal) communication per se. No more "accessing the cloud". With 5G we'll be wrapped in the cloud. Etc.

I'm not saying it's imperative we go there. Only that that's where we're headed. For better of worse. Like it or not.


Damn. Maybe the past few years have made me a pessimist, but these days the absolute last thing I want is to be ‘wrapped in the cloud’ in any way, shape, or form.


  Talking to myself
  Crying out loud
  Only I can hear me, I'm
  Stuck inside a cloud


seriously, more and more I find myself wanting to minimize how much stuff I have “in the cloud”, especially parts of the cloud controlled by for-profit corporations.


I'm not saying we won't ever need faster speed, but right now, 4G LTE when working correctly is plenty fast. And we need higher or no data caps far more urgently than faster.

Last thing I need is a data connection so fast it can burn through my data cap in 5 seconds.


And for that, more bandwidth is needed...


>I'm not saying it's imperative we go there. Only that that's where we're headed. For better of worse. Like it or not.

You're doing that thing where people say it isn't something only to reveal in a few extra sentences that you mean the opposite. "It's not imperative but its going to certainly happen."


No. Really. I wasn't :) I simply didn't want my analysis to be misinterpreted as an endorsement. Without that that disclaimer / clarification those reading will default to confirmation bias and have me casting a vote, so to speak, in favor of 5G.

Just the facts Jack :)


I love this accidental "does free will exist?" discussion.

pretendscholar is asserting that because it will happen, it must happen. You're arguing that it need not despite the fact that it will.


Well I'm just quoting op and the incoherence of the first part as it relates to the second.


They don't read as incoherent to me. Imperative doesn't mean "will happen" it means "must happen" (to achieve some end).

So the quoted comment to me says "it doesn't need to happen (not imperative) but it's what likely will happen (where it's going)". No internal inconsistency.


What does that even mean?


Nothing. It's politician's bullshit bingo regurgitated so many times through the media that now people on HN start to echo it.

We need 5G for self driving cars

We need 5G for industry automation

We need 5G for IoT (because that makes so much sense, lol)

We need 5G for ...


I just saw a recent article touting the benefits of 5G for smart traffic signals.... but it's not clear why those same traffic signals couldn't use 4G, or even 2G, it's not like traffic counts need a lot of data bandwidth.

Or, you know, it's not like traffic signals move around on their own, so they could just be hardwired.


There are already traffic signals out there that use radio signals to communicate with each other. They are used to manage the traffic around road construction sites. E.g.: http://www.fabema.de/en/products/traffic-light-systems/wirel...

So 5G is not needed for that purpose at all.


It is my understanding that while traffic signals are almost always hardwired to mains supply (somewhat surprising observation is that traffic cameras often are not but use Pb battery packs that are recharged during the night from street lighting power) they very often use radio interfaces for communication, be it something PACTOR-like, point-to-point 802.11 on unusual frequency bands (ie. sub-GHz) or straight 802.11.

The sub-GHz 802.11 seems to be uniquely american thing. And maybe just pushing anything over RF is somewhat uniquely Czech thing (caused by the fact, that Czech spectrum allocation has somewhat unique additional 10GHz ISM band), but in Prague there is an giant nest of smallish microwave antennas on every tenth street light pole (the extreme is probably Malostranske namesti, where there is 10GHz link between two traffic signals that spans about 70m).


IRT to applying ultra-high bandwidth networks to devices which don't need a lot of bandwidth, the point of moving to a higher bandwidth network is to allow these devices to quickly report back what they want to say and then get off the air faster. The faster they can report their small heartbeat of data, the more devices you can support. Lets assume this traffic light sends a snapshot of the intersection at a frame a second, each frame being 100KB. So, 100KB/s would be is normal load, so there's no real need for it to have a dedicated 100Mbit link. However, if you've got a few thousand devices wanting to share that link space, you're going to need more bandwidth available to the whole. Its also good for the general responsiveness of the network for that 100KB transfer to happen in less time, as only a single device can talk on the network at once. Its the same thing with home WiFi connectivity. 54Mbit would theoretically be plenty of bandwidth for a movie stream and a few phones/tablets browsing social media, but if you're using 802.11g you'll probably have issues with your video stream as those phones and tablets hog the airwaves while they load a batch of images. It takes time servicing multiple devices in the same channel, time that takes away from max effective bandwidth available.

Also, while its true one could just wire up all of these fixed devices, these wiring costs would massively drive up the cost of implementation. Trenching city streets to lay new cables costs a lot of money, just ask Google.


You're talking about 802.11g and 100Mbit links, while I was talking about cellular data -- two completely different things.

A cell tower has more than a single channel and a city with a thousand traffic lights is going to have many cells, so using existing cellular generations is not going to run into problems with collisions from 1000 traffic signals trying to send data at once.


At the basic level these two things are pretty similar. Its the same concept, just a difference in scale. The tower can only slice time so much before clients have to wait longer and longer to transmit. The faster a client can send its burst of data and get off the air, the more clients you can have connected per tower. I've personally experienced plenty of circumstances where even though signal strength is fine, there just isn't enough bandwidth for reliable cellular service.


I understand that if a single cell tower is overloaded, then its clients will have issues talking to that single cell tower.

My point is that a city with a thousand traffic lights will be covered by hundreds if not thousands of cells, so the issue of traffic lights competing for bandwidth for a single source is non existent.

And this problem doesn't change for 2G, 3G, 4G, or even 5G. Perhaps 5G can scale better but if you had a single 5G tower covering an entire city, it too would run out of capacity.


Or even use LoRa for meshing which is 50kbps over 10km. As you said, there's only so much data a traffic signal needs.


The 4g network tower can only handle so many devices connected to it. 5g also solves that problem. Speed is great but the big change is that the towers can handle many more devices (which is why it’s touted as the reason why iot/selfdrivingcars/etc can now work. If you’ve ever been to a large conference or festival, you can see what happens when too many devices try to use the network. It just loses all reliability and speed.

So the shorter distance the 5g signals go also mean more towers with more connections. My point is, don’t focus on the speed as being the huge innovation, it’s the number of devices possible. Although once it’s available, you will see apps come out that you may not have expected that take advantage of the higher speeds to do cool things.

But yes, we need to move in the direction of 5g or something similar to allow the tech you listed to take off.


5g will be so pervasive that it will be abnormal for a device or appliance to not be online. That 5G will be the aether and devices will expect to be able to access it, whether it's tied to your personal connection/identity or not.


Except entertainment does count according to customer use metrics.


Does anyone feel 4G is lacking in any way? I don't think I'd notice if my phone's network was any faster.


The biggest thing preventing me from using 4G more has nothing to do with speed or coverage. It's the caps and pricing on bandwidth consumption. I doubt 5G is going to change that.


5G will increase capacity, especially in urban areas, enabling cheaper unlimited plans.


Looking only at capacity, it will definitely be cheaper to provide unlimited plans but even if that was the only factor, there isn't much of an incentive for carriers to change how they charge for bandwidth.

In all likelihood prices will go up as 5G requires a massive infrastructure deployment of very expensive hardware, spectrum licensing, and they'll have to pay to transmit and receive that data to the internet. All of those additional costs will be passed on to customers.


Even if it wasn't expensive to deploy, carrier customers pay for value provided. 5G will be in some way better, so more expensive. In the same way we use pay insane roaming rates until EU ruled they can't stay - suddenly carriers advertise how cheap the roaming is with them and how they're the first ones to offer it in the country...


How? The investment required is bigger than 4G


The real issue is coverage, not highest-available speed. It doesn't matter if Verizon puts up a tower that lets you download 10GB per second if you live in an area that Verizon doesn't care about servicing.


It doesn't matter if Verizon lets you download 10G a second if the average 10G/month data plan costs hundreds


but how/why would 5G increase coverage?


Faster autoplay ads to "serve you better" so to speak, no?


Of course... and they'll be better targeted to your precise location for tracking purposes too!


Let's not get too hyperbolic - 4G isn't perfect. I do regularly have issues getting any data connection in my office building in Chicago.

...that said, from the other comments, it sounds like 5G would make this issue worse...


I think it's more about power usage. Shorter bursts of more data vs having the radio on for longer.


Circuses, but maybe not so much bread?


People can already steam music and Netflix (or whatever) and be happy with it. You don't need 4k revolution (or lossless music) on your tablet. If you cared that much about quality, you'd watch $whatever on an actual monitor (which, given our technology, is EITHER easily mobile OR better in 4k). As such, "people entertain themselves" doesn't justify 5G, just better 4G coverage.


But entertainment does count for me and billions of others like me.


At least unexpected weather gives you something entertaining to talk about and post pictures of on social media.


The confusing thing for me (not exactly well versed in networks) is that currently all 5G base stations seem to have ranges more akin to modern WiFi endpoints than LTE with regard to how densely deployments will need to be placed - am I missing something?


This is what gets me, too. LTE is great because it's mobile data - the range to a phone tower seems to be about the same as 2g/3g and the data rate is awesome.

5G is more like roaming wifi, and the data rate drops rapidly to the point where (iirc) if you're more than a couple of hundred meters from a tower it's no better than LTE. Why would I want this?


I wonder if like the 3G and the 4G rollout in most countries, the first batch of deployments will use the higher frequencies for the new technology keeping the lower frequencies for the legacy technology to ensure everyone retains access to the exisiting coverage while giving some people access to some coverage using the new tech. Then as user adoption of the new tech approaches a certain point the lower frequencies are reallocated to the new technologies when the risk of reducing coverage for users of the old tech is not significant issue anymore. I’ve seen this occur with 2G to 3G (3G started with deployments only at 2100 MHz but is now mainly deployed at 900 MHz replacing the previous 2G services in that band) and 3G to 4G (4G initially mostly in 1800 MHz but many deployments now are in 700 MHz reframed from TV and 900 MHZ reframed from 2G/3G).


Why does entertainment not count? Entertainment is the basis of our entire civilisation. If everyone were content then no-one would be striving to create better movies, cook better food, play sports, create higher definition TVs, increase processor power, communicate and travel across the world.

If we were all happy to sit on our own in silence, eating the same local crop day in, day out, then very little would be developed.


To me the greatest boon is to rural areas. I am incredibly excited about the opportunity 5G opens up to those who currently live with marginal access to the Internet because the monopolistic world of ISPs has prevented fast, consistent internet outside of major cities and population centers. The opportunity for education and services to everyone is the major promise of 5G. Now I just sit here and hope that actually comes to pass.


i was under the impression that the high power/short wavelength for 5g would practically limit it mostly to cities


Exactly. I predict many areas will never see 5G. You need more transmitters to cover the same distance as 4G.


Many rural areas don’t even have 4G yet. These areas even less likely to get 5G anytime soon IMHO.


Think for a moment about how big of an impact 4g had, and 3g before it. As others mentioned above about the law that states that any new computing resource will eventually get filled, there are plenty of areas where this is worthwhile.

The biggest first off would likely be the end of wifi as we know it, so in turn, an increasing number of IoT devices for the home/workplace/elsewhere would be built without the need for complicated wifi setup, and all syncing between devices would likely be done using a cellular setup. "Cable" would likely completely go away, where companies like Verizon realize they can deliver all TV over their 5g network. The constraints relating to numbers of devices on a wifi router will be backgrounded, ect.

Another key piece is that there will be far more nodes in a 5g deployment, so you could do better triangulation for GPS. It will have lower latency so even tighter real time applications can be done over the internet. This list can go on and on.


> the end of wifi as we know it

Can you explain what specifically about 5G makes this possible? I don't know anything about it, but if the logistics and pricing for it are anything like 4G, I have no interest in paying my telecom an extra $5/mo per device when I can throw them on my own network for free.


Because potentially "your network" goes away. You have no home-based "line".

I'm skeptical, very, but the appeal is obvious if it works and the pricing isn't obscene.


The pricing will be higher than 4G. The data caps will stay similar. Carriers are not charities and don't operate at cost - if they can charge us for extra value, they will.


s/for extra value//


Why don't I have a home-based line? Are routers illegal now or something? Are the receivers locked down and proprietary? Is someone taking my computer away?


What are wireless providers gonna allow these new IoT devices on their network for free? Are they suddenly gonna stop making us pay through the nose for bandwidth on our phones? Is tethering not gonna exist, or not be an extra $20 per month charge?

I don't see any of these things happening with 5G.


How big of an impact did 4G really have? I had Google Maps and text messaging on 2G. Now I can mindlessly scroll through high res feeds full of memes too?


I remember mapping being really slow on 2G. 3G improved things but peak time would see issues. 4G finally saw mapping work well 99% of the time for me since the speeds were always good enough.


Modern economics is a religion of growth for its own sake?


That might be a simple no, but let's look at what growth is. Increase in consumption, and there's still a lot to go when it comes for the economy to provide the basic stuff for a decent life.

Sure, if all that extra growth does not translate into increased well being for the median, or if it can't lift those out of poverty who need those efficiency gains that led to "growth", then, no, of course that growth is useless.

However. Growth is amoral, and most economists are trying to understand the economy, not normatively influence it. (Though there are a lot of oped and blogs by economists.) And how the economy works, how does that growth happens is not up to the "modern economy", it's up to people. Politics.

Modern economics is the religion of Cassandraism, anyone who understands what's going on is unable to persuade others. Look at how the Net Neutrality debate went down the drain, because somehow libertarian/dumb free market advocates can't comprehend that zero-touch no-regs complex systems have a tendency to end up in a pathological state. Or look at how people still can't believe that a bail-out was better for the economy short term, and how trying to do central planning without honest signals likely won't work.

And this doesn't mean that it's easy to figure out these things, or that there's a 100% idiot proof way to get magical silver-bullet solutions, far from it. But it seems pretty straightforward that blindly ignoring those who study these things all their lives and just repeating a mantra - be it socialism or libertarianism - is not exactly helpful.


I am not saying the benefits outweigh the costs, but I think there's huge inroads to be made for high bandwidth communications tools like many-to-many video conferencing, which is tantalizingly close to being fast enough but still a pain in most situations I've encountered. Disclaimer: I am thoroughly ignorant about 4G and 5G so I don't know if 5g would help the typical issues that come up with video conferencing.


It's painful even on a 1 Gbit/s dedicated fiber connection. Most video conferencing tools just suck.


The main interesting part isn’t about making phones faster (although that’s a fantastic side effect since now it’ll be feasible to work off a cellular connection instead of having to find a good cable link for fast internet), it’s about everything else. Houses don’t necessarily have to have wired to the home fiber, instead, a 5G antenna on the side could easily get you gigabit.


> Entertainment doesn't count.

But it's what like 90% of users use their devices for! :-/

Sorry about that, but you (and me) are a minority.


Just because most users use their devices for entertainment doesn't mean that entertainment is a valid reason to need more bandwidth. Most users couldn't give a good gosh dang whether the resolution is higher on their 6" phone. It makes literally (literally) no difference.

Nice emoticon, btw. It definitely didn't make me completely disregard your opinion.


I think this is a great point, and that the main boon to 5G is the sprouting of lots of localized towers. It seems like a big giveaway to big telcos to the detriment of cable providers with bigger physical plants and capital needs.

End of the day, as shitty as Spectrum and Comcast are, they are a better devil then the AT&T corporate offspring.


Maintaining the existing level of service as more people use their phones more heavily at greater population densities.

As I understand it, 5G is more about network scalability than about improving end-user experience (though of course end-user experience falls off a cliff if the network reaches saturation).


It's so that we can make cable companies obsolete without running fiber everywhere. 4G networks just don't have the capacity to support use for TV streaming - the hope is that 5G will.


We will have to run fiber to all those 5G hotspots. 5G is very short range, it does not extend access to anywhere that doesn't already have good access, it just makes it possible to run devices at higher speeds without being tethered to a wall.


Yup! It means fiber to the neighborhood rather than fiber to the home. The proposal is that fiber to the neighborhood will be considerably cheaper than fiber to the home.


I don't believe cable companies will become obsolete anytime soon, lol. There's a tendency to rely on cloud-stuff more and more, we stream video instead of downloading, 4k, 8k, we store entire collections on google drive and stuff. And even if you think 5G will solve all problems with the bandwidth — well, I won't argue, but there are plenty applications (like gaming) that require low-latency, which 5G will solve not.


Note that I'm not necessarily arguing that this line of thinking (5g will obsolete cable companies) is correct, only that that's why mobile operators want it so badly - they want you to be able to drop Comcast and give them your money instead.

That being said there's absolutely no reason why 5G (or even 4G or low Earth orbit Sat) couldn't compete with cable companies on latency. In many places 4G is already lower latency than existing cable networks.

Edit to add: 4G also already offers fast enough connections for 4K and in many places 8K streaming. It's the total capacity that isn't there - they have to put data caps on so people don't do all their streaming on their mobile connection. 5G is more about removing data caps than providing faster speeds.


Why do we need it? To send you ads quicker, of course


be sure to research and laugh at e-rating windows and the 5g range.


I agree.


[flagged]


Is it? I wasn't aware of this so I did some googling and found this study:

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13592-011-0016-x

This doesn't seem like pseudoscience to me, but I don't really have context here. Is this considered to be a poor study or a disreputable journal?

Edit: Apparently it's been cited 61 times since publication: https://scholar.google.com/scholar?cites=270710047801738518

Edit 2: Okay, there's definitely skepticism: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/cell-phones-kill-bees-study_n...

I'm not sure if I'd call this "pseudoscience" as much as "speculative and controversial."


Here's a study that looked at microwave absorption in insects at different frequencies (picture):

https://media.springernature.com/lw900/springer-static/image...

"All insects showed a general increase in absorbed RF power at and above 6 GHz, in comparison to the absorbed RF power below 6 GHz. Our simulations showed that a shift of 10% of the incident power density to frequencies above 6 GHz would lead to an increase in absorbed power between 3–370%."

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-22271-3

It doesn't seem like pseudoscience to me either. In fact it looks to me like more real science needs be done on this subject, to figure out if there is a real danger or not.


prev. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2537839

(I recall much longer discussion, but could not find)


That's a completely fair point. I'd read a little on it, nothing conclusive, and as md224 pointed out, there's been some back-and-forth, and the science isn't settled. I figured that including "possibly" in my OP covered my bases. I recognize that this might be seen as manipulative though. Could someone suggest an alternate phrasing?

Regardless of the veracity of the bee thing though, I think the salient point is that having lots of EM radiation in the environment will have non-obvious effect, so we should seek a rationale FOR the technology, rather than need a reason to reject it.

(thanks to adsfqwop and avip for providing context below.)


> possibly on bees

Citation needed, this seems like FUD.


Have a look at section 2.4 of this document:

https://www.pathophysiologyjournal.com/article/S0928-4680(09...

Some excerpts:

"Panagopoulos et al. [99] exposed fruit flies (D. melanogaster) to radiation from a mobile phone (900 MHz) during the 2–5 first days of adulthood. The reproductive capacity of the species reduced by 50–60% in modulated radiation conditions."

"The authors concluded that radio frequencies, specifically GSM, are highly bioactive and provoke significant changes in physiological functions of living organisms."

The paper references over 100 studies in total on the subject of biological RF effects.


Hey jobson, fair point. Please read my reply to exabrial below. There's a couple other commenters with salient links there, too.


As an amateur astronomer, I would greatly prefer preserving radio astronomy to allowing folks to have faster facebook crap streams on mobile devices.


Area Man Prefers His Own Interests Over Interests of Others


that doesn't make his interest invalid. In fact, it's the basis of democracy - we add up the number of people with interest A vs. interest B and do the one with the most votes.

That's important. Our own interests are important. It's equally important that we discuss why our interests are important enough to disallow others from pursuing theirs. And then persuade others to our side. So don't dismiss someone for having an opinion in contrast to anyone else, argue the opinion itself.


Are you referring to the astronomer or the 5G user? ;)


Obvious solution: we designate one half of the planet as reserved for astronomy. The earth rotates, providing an opportunity to see everything. Then the people who want to look up can move to that half of the world, and the people who want to look down can move to their half.


Sounds like a great SF plot. Please do send me a copy of the book!


All things considered, I'm glad we don't live under an amateur astronomer dictatorship.


Radio astronomy has never had a better moment to push for its interest than now - just fire up the PR machine, and say: "Seen that black hole pic? Want more things like that? Better pics? Well, then let us keep our spectrum!"


There have got to be other solutions for radio astronomy. Let's look at options like putting telescope relays at lagrange points, or in orbit of other planets where there is no spectrum interference.

The black hole pic was cool, but you know what would make it even cooler and higher-res? Using the same technique with an even wider array (interplanetary) telescopes.


> Let's look at options like putting telescope relays at lagrange points

That's precisely what Millimetron/Spektr-M aims to do, but it still needs the ground part. You can't put the 100m Green Bank Telescope into orbit.


I'm all 100% into that. Wish there was a way to help make this happen.


Sure, but what is important for me or you individually is not how we make decisions on policy affecting everyone collectively


No, we look at what makes the rich people richer, whilst giving occasional appeasements and not going too far so as to ensure there are enough "slaves" to do the work.

If it were about collectivism copyright would be about 5 years and noone would get paid more than a few times the median.


I'll rephrase my comment.

> Sure, but what is important for me or you individually is not how we should make decisions on policy affecting everyone collectively


>> save a local river bait fish

A few or more of those and we have real loss in biodiversity. Maybe your "local river" can sustain that for a bit - but overall they are all important.


Would it be possible to send up a space based telescope in those frequencies?

Maybe the economic benefit of 5G would be enough to justify a one time cost of a telescope launch, especially if US, EU, and Russia all pitch in.


What does 5g have to do with satellites? It’s a marketing push around some scheduled cellular equipment upgrades.


They're probably not related, but I was thinking of the thing that SpaceX and another company are planning for satellite internet. I've heard that it would use the same centimeter wavelengths, probably for bandwidth reasons among others. I assumed that they were likely the same thing if they were both operating in the same frequency range.


If 5G is going to impact radio astronomy then the governments that license the spectrum should fund alternatives. Some simple space-based telescopes orbiting out beyond the 5G bubble would be expensive but not terribly difficult (radio telescopes, not the JWST). Put a couple out beyond the moon and the next image of a black hole won't be so blurry.


Radio telescopes are way bigger and heavier (large dishes required). Even more importantly, usually many radio telescopes are used together for interferometric observations. They require exquisite calibration of the distance between the telescopes, which can be pretty difficult in space.


Actually not necessarily. Many light, cheap and small antennas can also work.

See p.8 and 10 for those used in the current state of the art telescope at 160MHz https://www.aanda.org/articles/aa/pdf/2013/08/aa20873-12.pdf And https://cdr.skatelescope.org/#photos?lfaa for those used in the SKA, one of the largest future radio telescopes that is still under construction.

Getting the distances between the telescopes is actually easier in space. Both distance measuring and datatransmission could be done with lasers when there is a clear line of sight. Moreover, once an orbit is established, the laws of Kepler are 'followed' and predicting their mutual distances is something we can do extremely well. On Earth with very long baselines it is much trickier and things that need to be taken into consideration are cablelength differences due to temperature changes, tides and continental drift. (Continental drift is actually measured with radio telescopes: in the reverse problem when the location of a set of sources on the sky is known to high precision one can establish at what speed the distances between the telescopes is changing.)


You might want to look into what the NRO is already putting in space (supposedly) [1]. If the reports are to be believed, 100m dishes are already there, just pointing at the earth instead of into deep space. To your second point, it seems that relative positioning is mostly a solved problem at least for satellites in GSO (that's a core part of how GPS works). My personal opinion is that space-based radio astronomy is mostly a problem of cost, not of available tech.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orion_(satellite)


Not a solved problem, GPS is too inaccurate for interferometry. The problem is you want to do correlations between radio signals; consider a 1 GHz signal, which has a 30 centimeter wavelength. Error compounds as you integrate longer and longer signals. To do anything decent, you need to know absolute position within millimeters, and it can't be drifting too much.

Also, the positioning error isn't the whole story; there's also timing drift. Rubidium GPS-disciplined oscillators actually drift too much instantaneously to be useful...


Laser interferometry will pinpoint the distance to far less than a millimeter.


Military spacecraft are almost always ahead of scientific ones, and a 100m foldable dish might be an engineering marvel, but it's a bit different from a 100m telescope. An actual telescope needs to guarantee that your data are correct within certain tolerance, and not just good enough to get a good SNR from another spacecraft.

Besides, as another poster noted, VLBAs need extremely precise positioning which is just another rabbit hole. Spektr-R orbit determination was really tricky for its baseline of 300000+ km.


I've always thought on the moon would be more interesting than "beyond" the moon. A ground-based dish on the dark side of the moon, isolated from a large majority of the noise we're pumping into space by the body of the moon itself.


But it wouldn't collect the type of data that will be lost by the 5G spectrum. We can't change the microwave emission frequency of water but we can change our technology to not use a frequency close enough to cause interference with that frequency.


Large dishes and large networks of large dishes are economical on the ground in ways that are utterly impractical in space.


Yes and no. Those large dishes on earth require massive support structures. In the zero gravity of space large dishes can float virtually unsupported. There are spy sats with extremely large reflectors. The biggest geostationary ones can been seen from earth, meaning they have reflectors on the order of 100m+ in diameter. Turn one of these around and we would have a very capable radio telescope, much as how a redesign of another spysat program gave us hubble.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA-202

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orion_(satellite)


For the low, low price of 2 gigabucks each.

For an idea of scale, the entire VLA was built for ~80 megabucks. The entire Atacama Large Millimeter Array was built for 1.4 gigabucks.


Gigabucks and megabucks is how I’ll be talking of money from now on.


Totally worth it, even if to just add momentum to building space infrastructure and increase world's competence in space technologies.

Things have changed quite a bit over past 20 years. Launches are getting much cheaper now, and satellites are getting smaller. I imagine costs could be brought down, especially if the scope of the mission was limited to e.g. simple constellation for radiointerferometry.


More like shouldn't the government have prevented 5G from licensing the spectrum in the first place?


We have already done a few low-Earth-orbit radio dishes for VLBI [0]. IIRC correlating the data from a single on-orbit dish was difficult because it was moving way faster, over larger distance, than the other elements of the array. Still learning how.

[0]: https://tinyurl.com/google-search-vsop


More info on impact of satellite constellations on radio astronomy: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19712625


In addition to the good points raised nearby: The data rate from radio telescopes is enormous.


Just put a 5G tower on the radio tele... nevermind.


Data rates are high for the particular types of astronomy being done today because they are the cheaper capability. Adding new electronics to existing telescopes is less expensive than building a larger dish. But any astronomer would trade those date rates for the greater sensitivity/resolution and decreased noise of a massive space-based dish.


The stream is also in one direction.

I suspect an optical (laser) emitter could transmit either directly to Earth or to a retransmission satellite at GSO that already has a beefy radio downlink, and also serves as a regular comm sat.


autocorr, do you know if the Jansky VLA WIDAR correlator will be able to deal with 5G?

A primary design goal was terrestrial signal rejection; we would get nuked by ABQ Traffic Control radar etc.

I haven't kept up. I suppose I should find out.


Has anyone done a deep dive on 5g health concerns? E.g., 240-some scientists and 40 doctors signed a letter of discouragement (or something), claims research indicates 5g interacts with human biology in poorly understood ways: https://ehtrust.org/key-issues/cell-phoneswireless/5g-networ...


Unfortunately, as a society I think we're going to have to "pee on the electric fence" for ourselves to find out.

Despite the fact that this spectrum has never been used for any widespread purpose, we're rolling it out and the burden is not on the implementers to prove that it is safe. It's basically on researchers to both prove, publicize, and convince society as a whole that 5G has health impacts.

I am not going to go all conspiracy-theory and say that the research is being suppressed but certainly funding for this research is not going to be a priority for the US government, as they've been thoroughly bought and paid for. Most research into health effects of non-ionizing radiation is not funded from the US government, so draw your own conclusions from that.


It's all nonsense. The higher frequencies are non-ionizing and in common use today. See all of those microwave antennas on buildings and towers? A lot of them transmit around there.

Your neighbor can blast 24 ghz right at your house with a free licence:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1.2-centimeter_band

The reason microwaves (like from a microwave oven) are dangerous are because of their power levels. Like, they'd cook you if they leaked out. Not because of ionizing radiation.


Why is it that you can just dismiss the hesitancy of more than a hundred researchers with PhD's in a wide range of relevant disciplines who have made careers out of studying this kind of thing by simply posting a comment saying "it's all nonsense"?

https://emfscientist.org/index.php/emf-scientist-appeal

ctrl-f for "PhD" shows 126 results on the page.

Electromagnetic radiation is used as a signaling medium for countless lifeforms on earth, including the cells and microbes in our own bodies.

Imagine if some alien creature decided they wanted to flash relatively bright blue light across the entire surface planet, day and night at frequencies that known to induce epileptic seizures. It'd affect your quality of life and mine. For some people, it'd be devastating.

Just because we can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there.

I fail to see how a blanket dismissal of peoples concerns, however uninformed many of them may be, counts as "rational"!


I can find 100 crackpot scientists as easily as I can find 100 crackpot doctors or mathematicians.

Instead of appeals to authority, why can't we work with the facts and evidence that we have already (those overwhelmingly disproving the health hazards of 5G)?

"Peoples concerns" equate to the desire to halt all human progress out of some bizarre mix of paranoia and Neo-Luddism.


"why can't we work with the facts and evidence that we have already (those overwhelmingly disproving the health hazards of 5G)?"

Yeah well, I'd like to see that overwhelming evidence please.

But since, I am not a biologist nor physicist, I could not really examine it in detail. So I would have to believe the authorative power of the experts who day it is all good.

Then I compare the arguments to the experts who say yes.


That's an ad hominem attack.

It's an inconvenient possibility (not going to call it truth) that our technology might be hurting us. We're addicted to technology the same way smokers are addicted to nicotine.

Smoking was at one time considered healthy and promoted by doctors, and now where are we?


Technology is a religion to this forum, so good luck convincing others that electromagnetic radiation might have an impact on human biology that is not well understood.

If it doesn't cook you like microwaves or causes radiation sickness 3 hours after exposure it is immediately declared universally safe.

Of course that's negligent at best. Looks like we will live through in vivo testing for those questions, I suppose.


Yep, totally get it. That's why I'm using a throwaway, I'm a heretic to the highest, on the level of an anti-vaxxer.


>ctrl-f for "PhD" shows 126 results on the page.

I took a random one for the country I live in: According to wikipedia, this person who got his PhD in 1973 and has since retired has done research in 'quantum philosophy and spirituality'.

The second one, retired also, is a biologist who researched subterranean mammals. He and his team got an Ig-Nobel price in 2014 for their finding that dogs align themselves to earth's magnetic field when pooping.

I'm not sure I want to continue.


> that dogs align themselves to earth's magnetic field when pooping.

Well actually that seems like relevant information for this topic, because if that is true it means that dogs can sense magnetic fields. And as we know RF waves are composed of both an electric and magnetic component.

So this guy might actually know something that the rest of us do not know. If dogs can sense magnetic fields, it means electromagnetic radiation could have an unknown impact on their sense of direction. Sounds important to me.

Here's another guy that seems to know what he is talking about.

Prof. Olle Johansson, Ph.D., Dept. of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Sweden

Seems like someone you might want to listen to, especially since he has participated in several studies on this subject:

https://www.cellphonetaskforce.org/the-work-of-olle-johansso...

You can also find his talks on the subject on Youtube, which I suggest people watch. They are very easy to listen to, and provides a good introduction to these topics.

Then we have this guy:

Dr. Paul Héroux, Ph.D., Director, Occupational Health Program, McGill University; InvitroPlus Labs, Royal Victoria Hospital, McGill University, Canada

He was commissioned by the electrical power companies to actually invent the RF dosimeter in 1991, that many use now to gauge exposure levels.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1930308

I'd certainly want to know what he has to say. Let's look at some of the rest:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=H%C3%A9roux%20P%5B...

Several publications relating EMF exposure. I think we want to know what he has to say also.

So perhaps you should not have give up so easily, and continued to look a little further instead. We want to look for the people who have the expertise in this field, and listen to what they have to say.

To finish off, I'd like to know where are the scientists that have studied this subject as extensively as someone like Heroux or Johansson, and are willing to sign their names on a pledge of microwave safety for all of humanity. I haven't seen such a list.

"The 5G recommendation for global irradiation. Go ahead, we take responsibility for full irradiation." In fact there is no such recommendation, as both insurance companies and even the cellular manufacturers are increasingly distancing themselves from liability.

That's what I call a clue.


>ctrl-f for "PhD" shows 126 results on the page.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority

Show me one species that uses GHz signalling.


> Like, they'd cook you if they leaked out.

Nope, they wouldn't. The standing wave would break down as soon as it left the enclosure. It would still be a potentially harmful amount of radiation, but not like that.

And no, 24 GHz is not in common use. It's used for special applications, mostly highly directional tower-to-tower links (I have one sitting on my roof for a high-bandwidth HAM radio link). With 5G, it will be ubiquitous in an unprecedented way. We've already seen plenty of interference with 5 GHz.

Of course, there's a lot of fearmongering whenever RF radiation is involved, but there are genuine safety concerns.

Source: HAM radio operator


In school, we used to learn about the RF service technicians returning with stories of dead birds and other such phantasmagoria in and around the sweet spots of the feedhorn, antenna, transmission line, transmitter or other such sensitive areas of high power microwave operations.

Professor also admonished us that such technicians must always be infinitely certain that the transmitter is not operational at the time of service.


> Professor also admonished us that such technicians must always be infinitely certain that the transmitter is not operational at the time of service.

It's a good thing your professor is not a tower technician. No self respecting technician climbs up a tower without knowing his potential exposure.

There is a reason both the US FCC and EU ICNIRP have guidelines for human exposure, and if you are a tower technician you wear a personal RF densitometer to ensure you are not exposed above these levels.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_RF_safety_monitor

"Electromagnetic field densitometers, as used in the cellular phone industry, are referred as "personal RF safety monitors", personal protection monitors (PPM) or RF exposimeters.[1] They form part of the personal protective equipment worn by a person working in areas exposed to radio spectrum radiation."

And even with a densitometer, when working on high-powered live equipment, you also wear a protective suit:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c7/Nardaler...

I hope you forward this information to your professor. Industrial RF radiation is not something you want to play around with.


I saw a video recently where a guy took a densitometer to a street with 5g in my country, and lets just say that there was plenty of sweet spots where it was well over 500uw/m2. Im no expert or anything, but seems like allowing 4 different vendors to put up 5g infrastructure all over the place might not be such a great idea.


I lived in a place where they had many co-located LTE base stations and power density about 1/4 mi away from these exceeded 75 mW/m^2. Now, I get it that a typical wifi base station transmits up to 500mW, but that's a point source and the inverse square law works to your advantage - the total dose in any one direction is minimal.

Not so when it's a huge multi-tier tower - that's your whole body facing the tower getting that dose.

I'm a software engineer, a technologist, by trade and I was in complete denial about this until I started getting serious eczema that only went away when I stopped using wireless gadgets and avoided staying too long in areas with cellular base stations.

I denied and denied and denied but repeated experiments on myself only revealed how my body reacts to this stuff. My ideal power density is less than 1mW/m^2 to not break out. And there seems to be a relationship to what LTE bands the tower is transmitting on - outside the US I seem to do better. It could be the frequency, or could be the modulation.


hmm your comment makes it sound as if I had said that my professor recommended reckless abandon such that we should climb the tower in swimwear during a heavy rain after cranking the tranmitter to maximum?


Yes it's true. Unfortunately I cannot edit my comment any more. I do apologize, as it seems I actually misinterpreted your comment.

You can erase all references to your professor and swimwear tower climbing from the text. Hats off to him! And again, sorry for the mistake.


No worries, I reckoned that a misunderstanding must have occurred!

Still, I couldn't resist a vision not unlike the penultimate and electrifying golf scene with Bill Murray & the bishop in Caddyshack.


I believe these "sweet spots" are technically referred to as "modes". Think of them as "balls" of RF located in a specific area.


>Nope, they wouldn't. The standing wave would break down as soon as it left the enclosure. It would still be a potentially harmful amount of radiation, but not like that.

Yeah that's a good point

>And no, 24 GHz is not in common use. It's used for special applications, mostly highly directional tower-to-tower links (I have one sitting on my roof for a high-bandwidth HAM radio link).

That's what I mean by common use. Omnidirectional antennas aren't in common use.


Non-ionizing radiation does have potential biological effects on Voltage-Gated Calcium Channels (VGCCs) which our cells have plenty of:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3780531/


Not when immersed in a giant bag of salt water.


> See all of those microwave antennas on buildings and towers? A lot of them transmit around there.

But microwave links are P2P and directional, using narrow beams at a certain height so that humans (or other objects) don't get in the way. That will not be the case with 5G.


microwave is a broad term. WiFi in your house is in the microwave band. microwave CAN be directional and focused, but doesn't have to be.


Some of those items on the list are sending up red flags to me. The weapon use is purely because it heats skin; if you apply a million times less energy for a million times as long, the danger level from heat is zero. When it can't penetrate skin, it does make sense to classify head skin exposure the same as foot skin exposure.

The thing about sweat glands is interesting. And sadly I have no idea how to evaluate the quality of the studies linked.


The "good news" is that if it was serious, we would very likely already know. Therefore via some Bayesian inference we can claim that it's relatively harmless, but obviously worth keeping an eye on.

The bad news is that there are and will be entrenched interests that will likely try to "work around" any health concern, and maybe, potentially we will hear that the existence of 5G is worth it. (For example the tech advantage helps with healthcare more than the radiation harms us.)



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