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Cities Are Saying ‘No’ to 5G, Citing Health, Aesthetics, and FCC Bullying (wsj.com)
204 points by sverige 25 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 417 comments

There's such weird marketing zealotry behind 5G. They're acting like it's going to completely reshape society, but at best it's just... faster internet. In places where the internet is already pretty fast.

I can only assume it's a mixture of political and economic stakeholders that have their own reasons for really wanting it to succeed (looking competitive against China, selling new phones, etc.)

> at best it's just... faster internet

Counterpoint: streaming audio and video were singularly enabled by faster internet. That is restructuring multibillion-dollar industries. The iPhone, one could argue, and through it real-time social media, are products of mobile internet.

There are legitimate new capabilities that will likely erupt from cheaper, faster mobile internet. If the playground is in Shenzhen versus Silicon Valley, that’s where resources should be allocated to explore that potential.

I’m not arguing for 5G. (I don’t know enough about it.) But “it’s just faster internet” is a facile counterargument.

Funny how people even on a tech website seems to be stuck at "640 KB is enough for everyone".

When technology gets a lot cheaper, a lot more powerful, a lot less power consuming, the magic of the market creates completely new categories of use that unlock new demand at consumers.

Right now your phone has a sim-card. There might be one in your tablet or your car too. But there is not one in your TV or the lights in your bathroom. But at some point telecommunications technology is going to be so cheap that drawing a wire to connect a button to a light is going to be the expensive option.

5G is a step on the way.

Obviously sentiments like "640 KB is enough for everyone" hilariously failed to predict the value of faster and more powerful computers. At the same time, most people's personal use of computers hasn't kept up with the capabilities of the high-end of consumer grade products. Lots of people only really use a web browser, and even an ad-infested website will run fine on most 10-20 year old computers.

You can say "we don't need to frantically rush to deploy 5G" without also saying "nobody will ever benefit from 5G".

> You can say "we don't need to frantically rush to deploy 5G" without also saying "nobody will ever benefit from 5G".

Sure. But that just means that the products exploiting this technology won't be developed in your neighbourhood but instead in Korea or China.

Right, which is exactly what this race is about. The first widespread 5G adoption creates numerous companies around the space, which will out compete companies as they have a leg up. When other companies adopt 5g, your companies sweep in, having the expertise and the know how from years of tinkering in domestic markets.

This is what the US did with 4G and is one of the main reasons for the US's web dominance in the past decade.

How would and how many lives will be made better with 5g? Will it help people with debt? Will it increase housing supply to lower home ownership/renting costs? Will it help people stop overdosing? Maybe cool the climate a little?

No. Itll help people watch someone on youtube play Fortnite.

Just because you’re mostly correct doesn’t mean you’re correct. My watch is always asking me if I’ve fallen and need emergency services (I horse around a lot), but wearable connected medical devices are and will be a big thing. I have lots of friends and family who kill time taking online courses or watching educational videos.

This is the same argument badmouthing the Internet because of social media which ignores that the presocial media Internet is still there and just as vibrant.

> but wearable connected medical devices are and will be a big thing

And most are served perfectly by Bluetooth Low Energy, using a smartphone as local compute, storage and network uplink. The few cases where that's not ideal are so few that they may as well use a regular 4G uplink without much downside (it's not like they need the bandwidth or will create a high device density)

You can already stream online courses and watch educational videos with 4g... same with wireless medical devices. What does 5g offer that 4g already hasn't?

5g has higher capacity, but shorter range, so cells will need to be closer together, i.e. greater density - therefore location tracking precision will appear to improve, so the big corporations will be better able to finely tune targeted ads in HD to a more specific demographic of consumers.

5G offers:-

- bigger numbers and promise of a brighter future for consumers that are impressed by that kind of thing and are happy to trade their privacy for perceived benefits / status.

- And probably some more tangible benefits for those who would attempt to track or advertise as much as possible to monetize the masses.

- And as you clearly understand, nothing particularly beneficial to the rest of us, but we'll join in when eventually forced to through one upgrade or another as usual.

There might be incidental location disclosure, but even with 2/3/4G the network operator has pretty good location information, typical precision being 10s of meters or even less.

Lower latency

Ok, everyone says this. But by how much? Half a second? I load a video on youtube now with maybe 3 out of 5 bars and it starts playing in one maybe two seconds. I need to buy a new phone for what now? I need to agree to higher taxes or cut community spending in my city for what now? So my video goes from a 1 second load to half a second?

Time to video start is a bandwidth thing. Latency is the time it takes a packet to do a round trip. Typical 4G latency in the US is about 50mS and 5G is not yet faster because it’s still heavily reliant on the 4G infrastructure. It is expected to drop to 1mS as the rollout continues. This will have a significant impact on interactive content.

I think you’re conflating a few things though.

1) 5G spec improvements which do exist and are measurable today 2) your perceived value of those improvements 3) the FCC mandates in the US, which is currently being challenged

You might not want the improvements. Others may. The real issue, IMHO, is the FCC mandates. Although the challenge has a risk for technology too. If the courts agree that there is a possible health risk to RF I have no idea what kind of pandora’s box that opens.

The article is about opposition to small cell 5G pole mounted antenna, which are millimeter wave transmitters to replace legacy telephone and perhaps cable. These things will be used with fixed antennas, as they cannot penetrate buildings.

5G with traditional towers is completely different and not an issue.

shshehe 25 days ago [flagged]

Man your view couldn't be more myopic and shortsighted if it tried.

That's fine.

Prove me wrong. That's the point to a discussion. You share points of view. But if I follow your path of discourse, I could just say you're a sheep that'll believe whatever silicon valley tells you.

Hey man, I get what you're trying to do and it works on reddit and hackernews, but in real life, it sucks when talking with a person who always wants a debate (re: You saying that's the point of a discussion). Stupid people like me (maybe southern attitudes?) sometimes just encourage whatever someone is talking about. If they're talking about 5G and how it could improve society, you could help them think of ideas that would work in that system rather than just begging them to prove you wrong.

I think the point being made in this thread is that we don't know what improvement it might bring. But making it available will probably spur a lot of innovators to create something amazing and useful that could definitely make your life better.

Okay, that's a very fair statement I can agree to.

However, I mostly argue that the taxpayer cost doesn't justify the gains. It's expensive and most counties and cities have to foot the bill or heavily subsidize it. If the telecom company wants to foot the bill. Good on them. No arguement here. If the city has to, go fuck yourselves. Its diminishing returns to a ridiculous level.

Some are saying ‘no’. I just hope the courts don’t overrule them. Personally I’m ok with also allowing some to say ‘yes’. 5G’s short range nature should allow this just fine. In low population density spots the economics of 5G probably won’t work out. It’s best to let communities and companies figure it out themselves rather than have the FCC blanket it everywhere.

5G will probably drive AR and VR adoption. Enabling remote surgery, and other things like that. Who knows what else.

Really we have no idea of the the doors it could happen. In the 90s many people thought the internet was a gimmick or a fad. Today the most successful companies are built on it. It's very likely the same will be true for 5G enabled technologies and companies.

AR in a few circumstances, maybe. VR has better connection options. Remote surgery is definitely not using a cell connection.

5G is not a revolutionary tech when we already have wifi and 4G.

> website will run fine on most 10-20 year old computers

20 years ago computers had 32 MB of RAM. So no, they won't run a modern website.

To be fair, you are off by the factor of 8, but you still have a point.

Ignoring the fact that memory allocations as of 1999 were somewhat more generous than that, the problem of backwards-compatibility is more induced resource wastage by current low costs than insufficiency of earlier computers.

We've been at a plateau of roughly 1-2GB RAM for most of the past decade, masked by the fact that devices have been shrinking (phones replacing desktops) rather than resource allocations growing. Which is a fairly frequently-encountered trend in technology.

We create some design, it proves useful, and for a time, focus is on increasing size, power and performance. Then a shift occurs and the focus is on smaller, more distributed systems.

James Watt's steam engines typically produced 5-10 horsepower output, and he built 500 of these by 1800. Following expiration of his patents, and the adoption of high-pressure steam engines, a period of increasingly large and more powerful systems began ... until the realisation that mobile power was a thing, and electric generation, leading to steamships and locomotives.

With electrical power distribution, whole factories were transformed from shaft-and-belt distribution from a 10-20 hp prime mover to electrical power distribution to individual motors, some of which rivaled or exceeded earlier entire steam engines, but many of which operated with fractional horsepower, delivering motive force precisely where needed.

Locomotives grew more powerful and faster, until internal combustion engines allowed 10 horsepower cars to reach speeds of as much as 30 miles an hour on city streets or country roads, without rails or being bound to fixed routes.

Console radios became portable became handheld became a smudge of silicone you probably don't realise still exists within your phone (virtually all are FM receivers).

Warehouse-sized computers shrank to refrigerators, cabinets, towers, pizzaboxes, luggables, portables, laptops, notebooks, tablets, and phones. There's little reason for even a desktop computer to be much more than the size of a paperback beach read these days, other than port size.

The IoT (the "S" stands for "Safety") is the equivalent of putting compute power where it's needed (or not, as the case may be), but it's so cheap to do, and cheaper than equivalent non-compute-based means, that it's become increasingly difficult to buy silicone-free basic appliances and components.

Many of these small systems don't have huge resource allocations, but they're sufficient to the task. They're not end-user interactive devices ... except where they are, with the Twitter-enabled refrigerator (that's a Web browser running on the display).

Web designers have been buidling on the assumption of ample resources, or have used "requires recently-acquired hardware" as a market-segmentation technique (the poor won't buy your dosh but can't afford the kit required to run your website, so feature-block them out and pre-slim your conversion funnel -- I don't condone this at all, but it apparently works).

But there's no inherent need in transmitting a few kb worth of actual text and a few ten-thousand-word pictures to do so. 20-year-old kit should handle that fine, really.

> most people's personal use of computers hasn't kept up with the capabilities of the high-end of consumer grade products

Increasingly, consumers don’t even own a personal computer. (Unless we’re being pedantic and calling our phones PCs.)

Asking what a PC will do with faster mobile internet will be misleading.

I feel that you're deliberately missing the point. Most users don't max out their '4G' connections either.

> Most users don't Max out their '4G' connections either

But sometimes, some do. That margin is what describes new opportunity.

That margin is slim. For many users, vanishingly thin.

Somebody like you or I might frequently max our our cellular connections, but I wager most users never do. And how would they? Streaming 4k YouTube videos onto a screen smaller than a postcard? It just won't make a difference for them.

> It just won't make a difference for them

This is the 640kb argument.

Being able to download a move at the gate? Potentially game changing. Being able to stream video from a drone or car on the road to centralised servers? Potentially game changing.

People with capital are willing to bet this technology has legs. Your not being able to figure out why is not a good reason to block the investment.

You are unable to convince me I should look forward to it. Since we're apparently getting rude, I'll say your argument is nothing but naive dogmatic futurist optimism. Numerous potential harms to users (relating to privacy, not EM bullshit) have been raised in this thread and all you're offering up in return is vague nonsense about cyber-chauffeurs.

Services and products that will utilize more bandwidth aren't being built, because they're not usable without 5G. 5G needs to become ubiquitous before we'd find out what the new applications will be.

G5 will also reduce latency a lot, which is another vector that will open new possibilities.

But again, nobody wants to talk about how the reduced latency will empower even further the continuous surveillance we're being subjected to by our own devices.

Even as a techie, at some point I want to draw the line.

For me, if full state of each of my neurons can't be transferred in realtime to a server, we don't have enough 'surveillance'.

Yet the current 4G mesh is not enough to support higher overall utilization, hence 5G.

> But there is not one in your TV or the lights in your bathroom. But at some point telecommunications technology is going to be so cheap that drawing a wire to connect a button to a light is going to be the expensive option.

For stationary objects like TVs and lights we already have wifi, and a range of simpler low-power options used by IoT basestations. What does 5G bring to the table here?

WiFi makes it easy[ish] for consumers to firewall their IoT bullshit to inhibit spying. IoT devices with cellular radios promises to remove even this small level of control from consumers.

You can already buy a nanocell/femtocell. Probably with 5G and "LTE-WLAN aggregation" it'll eventually be easy to secure your network.

At least if enough people are willing to care about, advocate and pay for this feature.

That's the point. We don't know all of the future applications. But it's very unlikely to be nothing interesting. Do you think everyday appliances in the 50 years will function essentially the same as today? It's a very general enhancement in capability with lots of potential but currently unknown use cases.

I say this while also recognizing that most IoT stuff today is overhyped BS.


A refrigerator will still keep things cold. A stove will still heat things up. An AC will still AC. Other than home automation systems that go belly up when their servers go offline, most things do the same thing they did 50 years ago.

5g isn't revolutionary.

Doing something substantially faster almost always leads to a revolution in it: internet, manufacturing, cars, planes, computers.

At every step, you could always say "it is just faster". Only in retrospect can you ever see how world changing "faster" was.

Manufacturer can bypass any user firewall.

5G is a step back. It's a short range link, which may be nice in a densely populated area, but is useless outside that. And it already seems like providers are rolling back 4G support in rural areas.

Depends what you’re optimizing for. If you want improved bandwidth and latency it’s definitely not a step back. If you want larger cell sizes it is. The good news is they are not exclusive. One can have 5/4/3 G all coexist, as we do today. Unless the FCC wins it’s court case that is...

> Right now your phone has a sim-card. [...] But there is not one in your TV or the lights in your bathroom. But at some point telecommunications technology is going to be so cheap that drawing a wire to connect a button to a light is going to be the expensive option.

You don't need a SIM card or 5G for that. Technologies like 802.15.4, or even simpler, are more than enough.

Ethernet over Powerline LANs could also theoretically be used for those applications, since your TV, lightbulbs, etc will be running off mains power anyway.

Please don't use powerline broadband noise sources.

> But at some point telecommunications technology is going to be so cheap that drawing a wire to connect a button to a light is going to be the expensive option.

But it won't be cheap for the consumer. At best, our data plans will stay the same price. But more likely they'll rise and, well, I just don't think people give a crap enough about having a sim card in their TV to pay the extra. Maybe if you make SF money, but most people don't.

I think, too, people are starting to get teched out. Just a little for now, but it's happening.

>But it won't be cheap for the consumer. At best, our data plans will stay the same price.

...for entirely political reasons. Here in the UK, you can get unlimited 4G data (with 5G in some areas) for $25 a month. If you pay through the nose for shitty service, take it up with Ajit Pai.

Where I live 4G is good and so cheap that I am thinking about dropping my DSL connection.

I would still need a wifi-router as my laptop and my tv does not support 4G. But my guess is eventually those devices will support xG mobile data and my wifi-router will be a thing of the past.

Been doing this for a few years now..AT&T UL data hotspot SIM ($20.mo, aka 'Mobley' plan) plugged into a TMobile ASUS AC1900 router...tripled my speed of Sonic DSL, for 1/3 the cost of Sonic DSL. Do it.

AT&T UL data hotspot SIM $25 is 3GB per month. @ $50/mo for 10GB means no video streaming (eg. Netflix). DSL gives you 1.5Mb 24/7.

I went the Sprint 50GB (really 100GB) @ $60 per month.

> drawing a wire to connect a button to a light

How are you getting power to the light?

Being able to mount buttons anywhere is nice, and Philips even has a switch that works without batteries (the power for the Zigbee radio comes from the button press). Sending a signal over 5G to the internet and back however sounds like peak inefficiency for two devices in the same room that could choose any local wireless protocol

The module in that switch is made by EnOcean, they go back to at least 2006 (though the 2.4 GHz versions are more recent)


1 word: ultrasonics.


So you'd rather run the mains power to a device that beams power through the air to a light fixture rather than just run a wire to the light fixture?

Or a battery maybe? I don't know ... if you try to think ahead of what is within the realm of physics but not yet economically or technologically viable there are actually quite a few possibilities.

For the record. I don't think that there will be a physical sim card in your bathroom light but I think that all these wireless communication standards (infrared remote controls, wifi, bluetooth, 4g mobile data ...) will converge into one and the use of that will be so cheap that it will be used everywhere.

I hope you're aware that uBeam is a scam which cannot work.

There are perfectly valid electromagnetic methods for doing wireless power.

Not that you'd ever use them for a light bulb.

I'd be happy to have all the switches in my house be networked and smart as long as the switches, the devices they control, and the network in between are under my control. But sadly they won't be because the companies that sell me the switches will want to monetize me by owning and monitoring that network. To which I say "No thanks, I'll stick with dumb switches."

> "But at some point telecommunications technology is going to be so cheap that drawing a wire to connect a button to a light is going to be the expensive option."

It already is. I've got wireless light buttons in some rooms because it's too expensive to put new wires in the walls.

It doesn't require a lot of bandwidth, though.

> Right now your phone has a sim-card. There might be one in your tablet or your car too. But there is not one in your TV or the lights in your bathroom. But at some point telecommunications technology is going to be so cheap that drawing a wire to connect a button to a light is going to be the expensive option.

Hopefully we don't get there before proper regulation of tech companies is put in place.

Is it not already the expensive option when a cheap microphone+chip can be embedded in a light as The Clapper? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Clapper

When you can have a smartbulb and a smartphone app, if you already have a smartphone and wifi access point?

When you can buy a wireless doorbell system for $12 which is a free-floating button and triggers a mains powered doorbell remotely? https://www.amazon.com/wireless-doorbell/s?k=wireless+doorbe...

All of that is cheaper than buying, and paying a qualified electrician to run, 10m of cable to a light switch and then plaster/box/paint over it.

None of those things have SIM cards.

I wonder over the long run which is better - hard wiring or using batteries?

Why have a switch on a wall, even, when you have your phone with you all the time...

In case someone hacks your lights potentially triggering an epileptic seizure.

Is that the most notable example? I mean... "Around 1 in 100 people has epilepsy and of these people, around 3% have photosensitive epilepsy."

Faster, yes. But "cheaper" is just marketing hype. There's no way the telecom companies are going to pass any potential savings on to any end user. Shareholders will poop a brick if they adopt technology that reduces RPU.

But it will or should bring competition to Comcast and cable companies alike!

Who doesn't want more options for home broadband?

But it will or should bring competition to Comcast and cable companies alike!

I'll believe it when it happens.

DSL was going to break the chains of the dialup overlords.

Cable was going to break the chains of the DSL overlords.

Fiber was going to break the chains of the cable overlords.

Fixed wireless was going to break the chains of the fiber overlords.

My prediction: 5G data providers will pull the same tricks as what we have now. Pricing will be about the same as it is for legacy methods/speeds. You can only get the highest speeds and pay the highest prices even if you don't need all that bandwidth, unless you're part of a government poverty program. In which case, you'll get DSL speeds for cable prices. Signing up will be easy. Getting out of the contract will be hard. There will be mandatory fees for things you don't need or want.

It's the same group of companies. Why would we expect any different just because the delivery method has changed?

It's not correct to say that prices never fall. I purchased 5 mbps fiber from Verizon when it was brand new - $60 / month in 2005, I think. Today, Comcast's bottom tier is 15 mbps, at $30 / month. DSL-speed internet (768 kbps) isn't even available as an option.

The market might not function as competitively as it should in the US, but it still functions - new, cheaper tech eventually results in lower prices for consumers.

My experience has been different.

I was going through some old papers a couple of weeks ago and found some bills. My cable ISP bill from 2002 that I found was $103/month after taxes and fees. Seventeen years later, I pay $106/month.

Back then, the only other choice I had for internet was dialup. Today my other choices include DSL, fiber, and fixed wireless. So, I have more competition now; but I don't have a lower bill.

That's cheaper, if you take into account inflation.

Yes, I would love more oligopolies established for home broadband.

Streaming pre-recorded video (e.g. movies) over the radio is wildly inefficient considering flash memory costs peanuts. The primary reason it's done is because we're in desperate need of copyright reform (streaming is being used by the video industry as a form of DRM.)

That's not true though. It's not like the people who currently spend lots of time watching niche videos on YouTube (myself included) would start ordering flash memory with those videos instead if only it wasn't for copyright. The case for movies is a bit stronger, but my family's movie/TV show routine is to figure out what we want to watch last minute, then find that on netflix or crunchyroll or piracy sites and then stream it.

I also think the current copyright system is insane, but streaming genuinely is more convenient than buying physical media. If anything, DRM makes media available through streaming _less_ convenient.

No, but they would download their content once and store it locally instead of repeatedly re-streaming it every time.

IF you have children, you're probably familiar with the concept of streaming Frozen for the 50th time. If you're using netflix or spotify or similar, you're probably also familiar with the concept of something that was previously available just vanishing because of circumstances outside of your control.

Streaming is mostly a DRM/copyright enforcement tool. The only time streaming is actually adding value is live streaming.

Agreed. If 5G delivers as promoted, there is no reason to 'stream' any static content...it simply caches to your flash memory in milliseconds (song) or seconds (movie, Netflix already has mobile downloading). I can see a case for streaming in VR/AR or active content (live/multiplayer,etc), but streaming static content isn't efficient.

That doesn’t happen now though - the video doesn’t download comptlelty as fast as possible, it downloads 30 seconds or so ahead of the play position.

4G is perfectly fine for that, but if I Street watching a 40 minute video before I go on the tube, I can’t finish once underground

That is the promise of faster networks. Static content would no longer need 'streaming', as in caching these bit chunks...you would simply get the entire segment, and the device would deliver it to you at the appropriate 'speed'.

I don’t need a faster network for that - YouTube doesn’t download at line speed, it downloads in real time.

If it was line speed, a 40 minute episode would download with current 4g while I was waiting for the next train. On WiFi it would be down before I walked out of range.

As chipsets improve it also means the same download should require less power from the device’s battery, if you believe the race the idle argument, which has always held in the past.

> No, but they would download their content once and store it locally instead of repeatedly re-streaming it every time.

That's like saying "people don't need to listen to the radio for the same pop songs, they can just play a CD with them"

That was a multi billion dollar industry.

Which was killed by streaming, not by people storing songs locally.

No, it was killed by piracy. Streaming broke Apple’s dominance.

I get that you would want something local if you happen to re-watch the same things again and again. I don't, and keeping local copies of something in case I want to re-watch it is a waste of space.

Stuff being available exclusively through streaming is certainly a way to enforce DRM, but that doesn't mean people wouldn't still largely be streaming even if stuff was available for download without DRM too.

If you choose to download and not store your copy after consuming the media, that's your choice.

Streaming takes that choice away from the user in the first place. With nothing gained in exchange.

The efficiency of flash doesn't matter much if I have to wait for it to physically get to me, vs just opening up my browser.

People binge-watching a TV series could certainly anticipate their near-future media demands and download the series through means other than cellular networks. Downloading video and storing it on flash memory could eliminate a huge chunk of the demand for streamed video.

Streaming is just downloading in order. Data downloads while I watch/listen. That's super convenient. That's the big advantage of streaming. Keeping that data or dumping that data is a different issue.

Streaming is downloading, but without the timeshifting properties you get from storing the media to flash. With properly downloadable media, you can download in the evening, on your wired residential connection, and watch during the day when you only have a cellular connection.

Conventional downloading methods do not order the packets. So you can watch/listen during the downloading process.

They could, but...they don't want to. So they won't!

You don't know that. Currently consumers don't have the (legal) option, so extrapolating their current behavior to their potential desires is fallacious.

I download entire seasons of TV series with my Android Netflix client all the time. It's fantastic for travel.

I could've been doing this with iTunes for TV shows for years.

It would be way less convenient, though. So I don't. I don't know which device I'll end up watching on, and don't want to deal with syncing and all that shit.

> iTunes for TV shows for years.

Which is way more expensive than streaming services. Prohibitively so for wide swaths of the general population who don't have tech industry salaries. The cost of one TV show from iTunes can approach the price of several months of Netflix.

With copyright reform, that needn't be the case.

(Note that for many consumers, Netflix is already considered too expensive. Several people sharing the cost of one account is pretty common from what I've seen.)

Netflix and Amazon Prime Video already offer the ability to download and play later, so there is no need to extrapolate, and we do know that.

As I understand it, those features come with considerable DRM limitations. So no, it's really not the same.

They don't come with any practical limitations, so it is really the same.

Netflix has downloads.

Alright, so I should just download a significant portion of YouTube and news websites because I may want to watch those videos randomly? Or I have to wait to get home. Unless we're talking about terabytes of storage on my phone, I don't think this is feasible (for all the video and music I could want at a given time).

Fact is that streaming is just convenient. Like really convenient. I wish there was more stuff that I could download and listen to offline, but it's naive to suggest that streaming has no advantages. We stream while data connected because we download things in an ordered manner (vs how normal downloading is done). That's nice that I don't have to wait for a full movie or song to be completely downloaded to listen to it.

Is there any particular reason why your phone or laptop couldn't opportunistically download all the latest videos from your YouTube subscriptions on WiFi while you sleep?

Maybe you don't subscribe to channels and the system could never anticipate your whims and desires... but I wager it would work great for most users.

I subscribe to a lot of things but I'm not quite sold on the predictive algorithms. Mostly because the recommendations I get aren't really what I want. I have this problem with YouTube, Netflix (which used to be spot on), Spotify, and prime. So I'm not sure if I really trust their prediction models.

What copyright reform do you think we need for this?

Revoke the force of law for DRM circumvention.

Sane copyright expiration. e.g. damn the mouse.

The movies most in demand tend to be recent movies, so unless "sane copyright expiration" means a few months, I don't see how it would change the streaming situation.

If that truly is the distribution of demand, then the media industry should have little to fear from such dramatic copyright reform (of course they would disagree!)

pervasive AR/VR is supposed to be the killer app for 5G, but i'm personally not excited about it (à la 3D TV).

just give me the lower prices we were promised by the carrier oligopoly in exchange for all those governmental concessions (not holding my breath).

Sure, livestreaming videos to VR headsets would be great, and the desirable 2x8k@120hz would require 5G. But if that's the use case then there's no need to hurry with 5G since most applications would be just fine with local wifi and haven't proven significant demand.

You can't necessarily prove demand for even retroactively obvious products without the products sometimes. I don't think VR is something you are extremely likely to do on the go.

AR on the other hand has potential.

360 video is not going to take off because it’s a sucky experience. “Real” VR with positional tracking makes you feel like you’re in another space, and has lots of potential for that reason. 360 video does not.

I'm not sure what 360 video even is.

AR stands for Augmented reality, the overlay of information and artificial constructs over the real world in such a way as as one can both perceive the artificial constructs and interact with the real world simultaneously.

Nobody will view this by holding their phone up and looking at the world through their phone screen. Real products in development use glasses. Science fiction depicts contacts, currently impossible, or some sort of implant, even less realistic.

Remember we wrote about going to the moon prior to being able to actually go there.

A 360° video is one which has been recorded with a 360° field of view. Add in software + a head mounted display, and you can turn your head to view the video in different directions.

It's a fun novelty, but it should not be conflated with VR. If you move your head forwards or backwards (as opposed to rotating your head), the environment does not adjust itself to match your new position, because it's just a prerecorded video. Without this ability, you can't trick your brain into believing it's in a real place.

I only brought up 360° video because the GP mentioned "livestreaming videos to VR headsets [at] 2x8k@120hz", and there's no other type of video you can stream to a VR headset†. Real VR, with positional tracking, needs a 3D modeled environment, like a video game. We may be on the cusp of being able to stream traditional video games, but VR needs much lower latency than that—around 30ms for absolutely everything in the chain.

I don't think AR is any different in this regard. If the processing is being done on-device the assets are small and you don't need 5G. If the processing is being done remotely, you've got that same latency problem.

How does 5G benefit AR?


† Well, okay, there have been some weird experiments, but they preclude standard resolution measurements. They also require an order of magnitude more data—5G won't cut it.

I'm certainly open to a future with a Google Glass that works well (or even Google Contacts?) and its users aren't widely viewed as "Glassholes." But, in the meantime, a lot of use cases can be explored with devices that many people already own and that aren't considered obtrusive in many contexts the way that computer eyewear is.

AR for businesses(like AR repair manuals, etc) seems like a good idea.

But in that case , downloading the data locally seems like a real option.

And if the AR processing is being done on device—which I think it has to be due to latency, even under 5G—the data to be downloaded really isn’t that large. We’re talking images and 3D models.

> data to be downloaded really isn’t that large. We’re talking images and 3D models.

I think you underestimate image sizes for modern AR/VR applications. For example, good quality light-field can take few gigabytes for one image. Also there is a big UX difference between downloading full image ahead and downloading parts on-demand (similar to modern video streaming - today we never download full video ahead).

At the type of latencies needed for good VR, I’m not convinced any type of streaming from a remote server is going to work. You can’t beat the speed of light.

We’re only just starting to be able to do this with traditional video games (Stadia), where significantly higher latency is acceptible, and even that’s largely unproven.

If I’m wrong, well, I still think we should proove this tech over traditional cable + ethernet connections first, which already exist today.

But what media is still constrained by bandwidth? There isn't really anything else. We already stream audio and video at pretty much the highest fidelity humans can perceive.

Video is still pretty constrained by bandwidth. I still have songs buffer at times. So I wouldn't even say our current media isn't constrained. Additionally we'll probably see new uses for that bandwidth, just the same way we have found new uses in the past and every people again said we already have enough. That notion is ridiculous.

We can already guess at some use cases. AR, VR, or other types of environment simulation. Data processing for vehicles: cars, trucks, drones. And I'm sure that people will figure out more things they can do. But the notion of "there isn't anything else" so why do we need more, is like saying 640K is all you'll ever need (I know he didn't actually say that, but the myth stands)

> I still have songs buffer at times.

I'd posit that happens not because your connection is too slow per se, but because your Wifi/LTE coverage is spotty, and speeds on the margins of coverage can be very slow.

So the real problem is coverage, not speed.

Exactly. There are lots of places where coverage and bandwidth are still bad, but 5G is actually less suited to solve that problem than 4G, especially given where it's being deployed. They're pushing on the already-high peak instead of filling the massive gaps at the lower end.

Well if you have download more data per second then you can deal with more spottiness. Because the goal is to download something. A 1Gb/s connection for half a second is better than a 100mb/s connection for 5 seconds

That's not the point; the point is 4G is still mostly just in major cities, and 5G is only in very select major cities. There are places where you still can't even get a reliable 3G signal. It'll be decades before those places get 5G.

Isn't the average server more likely to sustain 100Mb/s for 5 seconds than 1Gb for half a second?

From data I've seen? No. 500ms is a pretty short time.

But my point is that there's the consideration that it takes half a second to download 500Mb (roughly a 720p video). So if you have 0.5s uninterrupted that's pretty convenient. I'm also pretty positive that coverage will increase from current conditions (I don't see a reason why it wouldn't). So the speed helps with the spottines. Basically what I'm saying is you don't need as long of a connection to download the same amount. If your spottiness is the same then you get more on 5G. Alternatively since it is 10x the speed, that would be equivalent to 10x spottines (which were not considering a fallback to 4/3G).

The issue is, there’s so many other things in the “faster internet” story than 5G that it really seems like a bit of a scam...

Personally, I’d much appreciate full-coverage, limitless, unthrottled, can-be-tethered, cross-border, always available (unlike in Central London) 4G. If mobile network operators can’t even achieve that, maybe they’re not up to the job of setting up 5G.

I'm saddened that streaming is seen as something important.

5G may add IoT which can have value for everybody if done well (or not if it ends up as a sensation of being monitored 24/7 even without privacy issue)

It isn't for static content (songs/movies), but for active content it is. 5G should effectively redefine what streaming really is.

What does this mean? Multiplayer video games? Video calls? Communal karaoke?

I can see how all of these things might benefit from 5G's higher bandwidth and lower latency, but they should also be more than possible right now. So if there's some untapped audience for a communal online karaoke app, I really don't think 4G networks are what's holding them back.

This type of thing is where I get pretty frustrated with 5G talk. It's a lot easier to come up with ideas than it is to build them, so if we can't even come up with concrete ideas, I don't think 5G networks are going to make the difference.

All of the proposals I see either don't make any sense under scrutiny (live streamed AR), or could easily be accomplished in another way (smart light bulbs).

Faster mobile data is great. I'm just not expecting it to transform society.

I think 'streaming' is a poor selling point, because it is already done efficiently, and will simply be made more efficient by faster networks offloading static content to cache/flash, as in Netflix/song downloads are presently. We just wouldn't need to call them 'downloads' anymore, just cached content. There are use cases where a centralized database and processors would need interaction to complete the experience, such as online gaming/VR/AR..but I wouldn't call that 'streaming'. These definition are mutable, like you don't 'dial' a number to make a call. I remember when the phones transitioned from dial to button, and thought 'what a time-saver'!

Streaming, maps, voice to text, and most other technologies you can think of already existed before moving to phones. The bandwidth lead to mobile usage, but not the innovations themselves.

It's usually a huge hassle to get stuff working on a phone, especially if it requires hardware support. It's not the greatest platform for innovations.

Counter counterpoint, humans have ears and eyes and already have streaming audio and video. Those things were clearly desirable and now possible.

What are the legitimate new capabilities you're thinking of, which many people desire, but can't have primarily because of (mobile) internet speeds?

Some of the advantages of 5g come from using it as a home connection. My building is locked in with spectrum and I'm limited to 100mbps, despite ATT serving fiber all over town. I can't do anything about it because it would require having a telecom wire our building for their service, the equivalent of moving heaven and earth.

If I could pick up a 5g signal I could opt for that instead. It's like suddenly having an option for installing a dish instead of whatever the cable company serves you.

As far as speed, I'm not holding my breath. In a previous apartment I did actually have fiber but it wasn't the game changer I thought it would be. Downloads and streaming are capped at a point. The only way to actually use all of this horsepower I had was with bittorrent, and boy it downloaded stuff so fast that the write speed on my drive became a significant bottleneck. I even demoed Googles project stream and while that worked OK, I still got a lot of hickups and low quality stream moments that showed how far away the delivery technlogy was (AC:O was playable but there was way too much latency for a multiplayer game to stream with this technology), even if I had the very best internet on the market.

Don't higher 5G frequencies have difficulty penetrating buildings?

Yes. It’s shorter range too.


Even mobile phones are now getting 90hz screens, yet we struggle to stream anything with more than 30hz at decent quality. This might not be noticable in most movies, but game streams could be much better and sports events could benefit a lot too.

But we already have fast mobile internet. If there was going to be this kind of buzz, it should have been for 4G. What makes 5G so game changing over that?

It's pretty clear that the widespread adoption of faster mobile technologies has enabled technology companies like Facebook, Google, Youtube, Netflix etc to thrive. Investment in infrastructure has unforseen benefits that only seem obvious in hindsight. America basically "owned" the 4G world and reaped the benefits.

Not doing this for 5G will basically just hand hundreds of billions of dollars in jobs and growth to China.

Netflix, youtube, and facebook can stream fine on lower bandwidth links.

The economic value of high resolution mobile streaming seems rather low, at best. Most likely negative, because most content is just time-wasting, and because content that actually matters tends to not depend so much on resolution beyond SD or basic HD (720p).

Other potential applications, as mentioned elsewhere, tend to run into 5G not being fast enough either (once you figure average speeds and not max theoretical speeds), or latency being too high, or the bottleneck being on the remote side.

4G, despite being ubiquitous, costs a lot for service and is power-hungry, not good qualities for most IoT-type applications. 5G might be better than 4G for mobile side energy use, but unless it's close to 802.11ax levels and mobile providers offer cheap bandwidth-limited service plans, I don't see why anyone would use it for IoT applications. That leaves mobile device applications, and people are already too glued to their mobile devices. I'm sure new businesses will capitalize on increased bandwidth from 5G, but I'm doubtful that it will benefit society.

5G antennas near the ground can be easily vandalized.

> Netflix, youtube, and facebook can stream fine on lower bandwidth links.

They really cannot, at least with quality levels that make people actually want to watch them.

> The economic value of high resolution mobile streaming seems rather low, at best.

Many multi-billion dollar companies and streaming services would disagree. As would many investors.

> Most likely negative, because most content is just time-wasting, and because content that actually matters tends to not depend so much on resolution beyond SD or basic HD (720p)

This is entirely your opinion about what content you prefer. Once again, there's literally hundreds of billions of dollars that says otherwise.

> 5G might be better than 4G for mobile side energy use, but unless it's close to 802.11ax levels and mobile providers offer cheap bandwidth-limited service plans, I don't see why anyone would use it for IoT applications.

This is not the problem 5G solves. It solves latency, availability and throughput.

> I'm sure new businesses will capitalize on increased bandwidth from 5G, but I'm doubtful that it will benefit society.

You are doubtful that the creation of numerous companies, highly paid jobs and adding hundreds of billions of dollars to the US economy won't benefit society?

This is the big point that everyone is missing. If we aren't at the forefront of the technology curve, then someone else will be. It's literally choosing to be a winner or loser but you also don't have to put in the time or effort you just have to voice an opinion.

It's a real shame internet is controlled by telecoms

To be fair though... are you willing to pay to run miles upon miles upon miles of copper or fiber? For free? Someone has to do it. And they really dont feel like doing and flip burgers too.

I thought they got millions of dollars in subsidies over the past decades to do run the wires? Not exactly doing it for free n’est-ce pas?

I do believe it changes by state, but they do get payouts for doing a large portion of the project. However, the way it worked in the past, they pay a monthly lease to the city for using the land. For example, cell towers can cost 2k-10k a month. Depending on the land owner. Thia can also be private property, like farmers.

However, like in Florida, telecom lobbied the fuck out of the state to cap the lease rate to $150 a box and a lot less out of pocket for the telecom. I'm a capitalist and a Republican. But that shit right there, can kiss my hairy butthole.

I guess what also angers me is the unicorn dreams and wishes people think 5g is. It's a business. Telecom gives zero shits about innovation or making the world a better place. They want their pound of flesh and will take the blood too. 4g payouts have slowed for them. That's why they want to suck more blood using 5g.

You can hear some particularly wild assertions like this in the long running commercial throughout the past few episodes of Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History podcast. They are formatted as conversation between Gladwell and an AT&T exec.

It always starts with "what are some things that might be enabled if bandwidth improved and latency decreased" and then just jumps immediately to some Internet of Things utopia.

I'd love to hear this, sounds cringey.

Edit: weird it's a 3 short episode advertisement thing, a "live-read" ad in an interview format. These Pop science people are a great marketing/hype vector. I'm curious how much AT&T paid for this.




The ATT guy said 5g will solve bike deaths by having your bike talk to the stop light and other cars, but with machine learning!

It seems to have the same disconnect from the real world implementations that the AI sales hucksters are pushing, like those IBM Watson ads that were very obviously (to every programmer) being over sold to big businesses.

The ATT guy said 5g will solve bike deaths by having your bike talk to the stop light and other cars, but with machine learning!

Reminds me of all the garbage that went around in the transition from AMPS to digital. I had a co-worker tell me her phone was better than mine because mine was only Edge, but hers was PCS!

The AT&T guy should have put an "e" in front of it to tap the nostalgia for 90's marketing nonsense.

eMachines, eBike, etailor, etc...

People will love 5G because it's one more G than 4G. And then AT&T can call it's version 6Ge.

Funny you say that - my AT&T phone currently shows that I’m using “5G E”, where the “E” apparently stands for “evolution”, which means while it’s not 5G speed yet it might become that fast in the future. It’s basically marketing fraud. https://www.heapooh.com/apple-iphones-5ge-att-network/

The telecom companies got away with that the last (few) times so they are going to do it again in the future. Just like "4G+, 4GX, XLTE, LTE-A, VoLTE"

Fortunately most people know not to take it too seriously or don't care either way. People typically only buy a phone when their last one dies so the sales pitch is usually between two very similar models in a store/website, with a possible up-sale for 5G (until 5G is standard). A small price bump because someone believed the sales guy's technobabble is not that big of a deal really, which is probably why there's no lawsuits unlike drug mislabeling.

Which is different than people buying a whole new phone just because they heard about 5G, which is a small minority of early-adopters who are always getting burned by tech churn.

Half or more product differentiations they think up for cell phones is mostly useless or quickly adopted everywhere. 95-99% of the UX will be the same thanks to the Android or iOS and highly competitive hardware specs.

Clearly all it needs is a blockchain component to succeed.

Decreasing latency seems more like a material improvement, but I wasn't aware 5G impacted that. Our current peak of bandwidth, on the other hand, is pretty much as much as you could need for any given media.

5G does in fact have much lower latency than LTE, but that’s really not saying much.

5G impacts it because the high frequency parts need a lot more cells. Therefore the overall available airtime per user/device is goint waaay up. Which is good for low latency.

Provides more throughput for mass surveillance systems, that will totally reshape society. Think 'social credit' systems. Servicing these customers will be the bread and butter.

I wish it was as easy to get people enthusiastic about other networking upgrades like IPv6.

Call it 6G IP.

They can always rebrand it, like how 802.11ax is now "Wi-Fi 6" https://www.wi-fi.org/news-events/newsroom/wi-fi-alliance-in...

I can understand why “faster internet” is good or even great thing. We’re seeing all kinds of new streaming tech that can take advantage of more bandwidth.

Something that does confuse me though, is the way 5G is being touted as the solution to better home internet in the US. It only going to fast in cities, which are the perfect place for fibre or even wireless ISP using normal WiFi running point-to-point between buildings.

US poor home internet seems to be driven by lack of competition, 5G is one way of increasing competition. But surely trying to legislate local-loop unbundling (which is what happens in most of the world) would be a cheaper quicker way to drive competition?

Coming from the privileged position of living in a place with a cheap unlimited 1Gpbs home internet connection, it’s hard to see what 5G brings to the table, except perhaps a better mobile connection in train stations and concert arenas.

Well, if 5G brings base station prices (and all the related equipment's) even further down, it could help poor communities.

But so far the problem seems to be simple density related. Laying/installing new cabling does not worth it in many places, because of the overhead costs. (The fixed costs.)

>There's such weird marketing zealotry behind 5G. They're acting like it's going to completely reshape society

It won't reshape society, but it could reshape geopolitics.

The US has had a unique position to monitor the internet thus far. With 5G that could shift (if large swathes of the world use Chinese hardware).

Everything I've heard about it indicates that it's a trash technology. Unless you're standing next to an emitter, it's no faster than 4G and potentially even slower. Like you walk one block or behind a wall and it's not good anymore. So you gotta put one of these up on every block. I'm banking on it being a complete dud, like 3D televisions.

You have heard wrong - it's amusing that you're so confident in its failure despite having the wrong information.

There are two phases in the 5G NR standard. The first phase relies on some elements of the LTE control plane to coordinate data services. These data services use new numerologies for their OFDM modulation, vastly more flexible resource block, allocation, improved error control coding, lower maximum latency, better channel allocation, and standardized MIMO support - all of which will improve reliability and throughput, especially in crowded channel conditions.

Phase 2 formally introduces millimeter wave signaling - this is what does primarily propagates through line of sight (LOS) channels. Clever beam forming and beamsteering can alleviate this to an extent but these cells are intended for dense urban environments or interiors of large buildings. These will supplement the lower frequency bands when available but 5G NR devices will still use the lowband when mmWave is unavailable. Phase 2 also switches over to an entirely 5G NR backed control plane (Standalone, or 5G NR SA) which has its own reliability and throughput improvements though these will all happen in the lowband since mmWave isn't suited for these tasks.

> Phase 2 formally introduces millimeter wave signaling - this is what does primarily propagates through line of sight (LOS) channels. Clever beam forming and beamsteering can alleviate this to an extent but these cells are intended for dense urban environments or interiors of large buildings.

Thanks for all the info. Why don't we just skip phase 2 and continue using wifi?

Fair point, my thought too. Something tells me "big telco" is too valuable to economies to sidestep with a public service/open mesh network relayed via routers and phones as nodes.

That’s an open technology. How do carriers sell that?

"New numerologies"? This is supposed to inspire me with confidence?

"In the context of 3GPP 5G standardization contributions, the term numerology refers to the configuration of waveform parameters, and different numerologies are considered as OFDM-based sub-frames having different parameters such as subcarrier spacing/symbol time, CP size, etc." (source: https://red-colmena.com/f/JyY1ajY1JmhhZSFpdC91JGcmIyEsYGU/18... which I found with a quick web search for "OFDM numerology")

Do you work in the industry?

Not for the big telecomm's but I design parts of the radios and DSP algorithms implementing the major cellular technologies.

Deploying 5G mm-wave "everywhere" seem like a huge expense.

How will telecomm's justify that ? what do you see as the big use cases ?

What are your thoughts on the safety concerns?

Not my area of expertise. The main study I'm aware of showing some harmful affects uses an unrealistic amount of power and curiously only showed effects for male mice. I'm hesitant to dismiss it, because effects from heating caused by non-ionizing radiation are well documented but that amount of power is just not present in cellular systems whether that's LTE or 5G NR.

> only showed effects for male mice.

Interestingly, it might not be the experiment but rather the experimenters themselves. When this study came out, I mentioned it to my girlfriend at the time (a veterinarian), and she pointed to research [1] that suggests a correlation between the presence of male researchers and stress in mice. It's plausible that if male researchers were present, the increased stress response could contribute to greater susceptibility to certain cancers (it was only the male mice in the 5G study that were affected).

I have no idea how the study was done or the genders of the researchers who participated, but it's worth considering that other variables may be at play. Perhaps it should be replicated under an all-female research environment if it wasn't originally.

[1] https://www.nature.com/news/male-researchers-stress-out-rode...

I worry in particular about the towers being in close proximity to schools and housing developments.

It really is the 1980’a again...

Why don't you demand actual reproducible evidence before worrying? Nonionizing radiation has not been shown to be harmful, but self-inflicted psychological stress certainly has.

Do you own a microwave oven?

More appropriately, do you operate a high frequency radar gun?


Worry about your blender. Seriously. Big electric motor.

it's amusing that you're so confident in its failure despite having the wrong information.

Why would that be "despite"? That would have to be being confident in its failure despite having information that it would be a success. Surely they're confident in its failure because the information they have says it will be bad?

And then your comment becomes "I'm laughing because you're confident in your beliefs" which is content-free smugness, or "I'm laughing at you because you don't know what I know" which is more or less the same, if not worse.

Being confident enough to trash-talk based on hearsay is just being arrogant.


I mean my sources are the actual 5G Standards, the test equipment I've used, and my knowledge of cellular systems stemming from experience and and formal education so yeah, I think it's a fair assumption that my knowledge is more than "some things I heard". My job does not depend on the success or failure of 5G, I don't know where you got that from.

Information is not equally likely to be valid regardless of the source it came from.

This is the curse of being an expert (on anything) and engaging with kooks who think they are experts because they read something on the internet.

If you had direct experiences and you share them, those shouldn't be ridiculed, but if you pass on information that is not from your direct experience and which people who have direct experience believe to be false... that's also, as you say, "not a good look".

The point is not that information from all sources is equally valid, the point is the parent is dismissing information without knowing what the source even is. I don't know the original commenter, their knowledge, or their source. But as the replying person says "assumption that my knowledge is more" - that is an assumption. Why not check that assumption?

Then they go on to say "I mean my sources are the actual 5G Standards," - And it's never been the case that a standards document sounds great, but doesn't work well or is implemented badly? Or tries to address a problem but doesn't? "and on implementing electronics" - so not actual experience of trying it?

> dismissing information without knowing what the source even is

What someone says gives a very strong signal for where they heard it.

Yes, you could perhaps challenge the relevance of the standards here, but to do that, you would need to provide strong evidence.

I don't follow what you're suggesting; Where are you implying that asciident heard that 5G is "trash technology" and "doesn't work well"?

"I heard someone used it and it didn't work well" is the same level of evidence as product reviews, and is strong enough for all of us to make day to day judgements on. "I read the spec and the spec says it should be good" is not strong evidence - all spec would say that, or be revised until it said that. Yet still bad products abound.

They picked up some random news articles and some hearsay. Maybe product reviews are where you get your info, then don't be surprised if you talk to actual engineers and they don't have a lot of respect for your opinions.

Is it not a common trope on HN itself, the software engineer who stridently argues that their service is good because it has $list-of-tech, ignoring the users who don’t like it?

I would edit, but too late; here is a HN recommendation thread about non-Macbook laptops: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20795113 In it, there are people saying that Intel - nVidia GPU switching has problems on some laptops.

If I take your position as stated: 1) Those claims, by the time they to us, are hearsay and therefore have no value. 2) An Intel engineer stating that they have more knowledge and it should work well, is not hearsay and does have value. 3) Whether the Intel engineer respects the reader or not, matters.

Am I misrepresenting anything in your position here? If not, then I feel the opposite about all three points. This isn't about engineer vs user's knowledge, it's about differences between design-intent and real-world result.

> Am I misrepresenting anything in your position here?


1) I never said "no value". The claims have value. Call it 2 bits per claim, with diminishing returns after the first few.

2) The Intel engineer has considerably more context, and more on the line, so their claim has considerably more weight. Call it... 8 bits. If they say it should work, then it should work, and if other people say it doesn't work, that doesn't mean someone is wrong, it might just mean that it should work, but for someone it isn't working, for whatever other reasons.

3) If the Intel engineer tells you your opinion is wrong or out of date, you should probably give that considerably more weight than if some random person on the internet without that context says it.

The engineer working in the field can be expected to know a lot more about both the intended design, the actual build, and the real-world issues arising in practice compared to what any individual user would know about any of those things. This is generally why experts don't like to engage with non-experts; the non-experts' priors on who to trust are likely to be all out of whack.

Maybe you'll be interested to hear from actual 5G users before making uninformed claims. I have home wireless broadband in central London (no other good broadband offering in my street) and was upgraded from 4G to 5G last week. I went from an average of 5-10Mbps at peak times and 20Mbps max on 4G, to 150-250Mbps peak time and 350MBps max on 5G, on the same carrier (Three). Enough said.

I have 150Mbps right now (checked on fast.com) with 4G in Central Denver. It’s not about the number before the G, but whether the carriers are building enough infrastructure to support it.

The population density in London is an order of magnitude higher than in Denver. That has an obvious impact on air congestion, which is one of the primary limiting factors on cellular network performance.

That sounded high, so I checked:

London Density 14,670/sq mi (5,666/km2) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London)

Denver Density 4,519.94/sq mi (1,745.15/km2) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denver)

London has a population density 3.25x that of Denver.

Why exaggerate when the facts are on your side? Or more specifically, why make an explicit numeric claim without confirming that it's correct?

That depends very much on your definition of "London" and "Denver". Your first figure refers to the population density of Greater London, a vast area covering much of what used to be the Home Counties. Your second figure refers solely to Denver City rather than the broader Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metropolitan statistical area, much of which is functionally suburban Denver.

I don't think it's particularly useful to attempt to pin down a fixed definition of the boundaries of either city, particularly one as amorphous as London. Suffice it to say that London is densely populated, Inner London is even more densely populated and rush hour on the tube is genuinely insane; Londoners regularly encounter densities that simply don't occur in most US cities outside of a football stadium and have a subsequent need for far higher throughput than 4G can deliver.

"order of magnitude" is literally the least explicit you can be without just saying "lots bigger". Why be overly pedantic?

I think the problem may be that "order of magnitude more" means different things to different people. Colloquially, it does get used to mean "a lot more", and some people use it because it sounds more scientific. But in a more correct sense, it means "closer to 10x than 1x or 100x": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_magnitude#Definition.

I personally dislike the phrase and try to avoid it. But if one is going to use it, I think it should be used correctly.

(I agree with jdietrich that the definition of "city" matters)

It is definitely about the number before the G. With perfect infrastructure investment like what your carrier seems to have done with 4G in Denver, 5G could reach 1-2GBps. In other words, real world imperfect 5G is ten times better than 4G with all stars aligned.

It doesn't look like like your old "4G" was legitimate full performance LTE. Cell carriers lie and demur about what performance they actually provide. You can't trust the number to mean anything.

I don't know much about the specifics behind 5G but if asciident's claim is true then towers on every block should perform very well under high load. What kind of performance are you referring to? Throughput? Latency? Availability? Reliability?

It was definitely a busy area and dozens of Mbps are more typical on 4G. My point is that real world 5G is an order of magnitude faster than real world 4G, much like 4G was in comparison to 3G.

Your 5G, and your 4G. That doesn't mean it is the 5G that is the difference, unless you did an exhaustive root cause investigation of the poor performance of the 4G.

Backhaul matters as well. If you do carrier comparisons at scale, it becomes obvious that the connectivity to the towers varies dramatically, as do network conditions, quality of proxies on the carrier network and other factors.

A fancy new 5G tower also has underutilized connectivity to it.

I appreciate your perspective but I did base my comments on what actual 5G users told me. Here's a video review that captures about what I said:


But I will add your data point to my opinion of 5G.

Maybe it just works fast because there still are only a very limited number of users? And will speeds and latencies drop as the airspace gets more saturated?

In short - some but not really. 5G NR allows for extremely efficient resource block allocation and can handle ~10x more concurrent users than 4G. The latency should not degrade as long as the carriers don't do weird things with traffic allocation - the standard allows for ~4ms worst case latency.

I believe 5G handles congestion much better. But even if the speed drops, it will still be an order of magnitude faster than 4G. Absolutely worth it.

How is real-world throughput across the internet?

I have a gigabit pipe that works just fine on a speed test, but most real-world usage doesn’t go that fast because of bottlenecks elsewhere.

But does it matter for you? I know it would not for me. I can certainly find counterexamples, but for me the last leg bandwidth is seldom the bottleneck. My 2c.

Back in the day I didn't think upgrading from a 56K PSTN modem to DSL broadband would matter that much to me. I was naively thinking in terms of downloading things a bit faster, the classic futurologist mistake of seeing things through today's frame of reference.

What happened instead is that it enabled Youtube, Skype, Facetime, and that did change the world.

"Maybe you'll be interested to hear from actual 5G users instead making uninformed claims."

Claims from "what I've heard" /are/ informed claims; your anecdotal information doesn't automatically beat other people's anecdotal information.

Is it? I don’t really see how that contradicts what op was saying.

How did you manage to get upgraded?

It's available commercially. http://www.three.co.uk/5g

My sense is that this is all completely driven by the need to have something new to sell.

The bigger problem right now are the tiny data caps. Allowing users to use 1TB a month of 4G data would be a much bigger game changer.

I get the feeling and have been asking the same thing. It wasn't like this for 4G.

Is it because it will replace wired internet as well? Or the ubiquitous nodes allow detailed location tracking? It will be managed by a skynet inspired AI? Or the fact China has taken the lead in implementing it?

Whatever the case it's a bit weird and I wonder what we don't know.

I work at an ISP and even internally people are parotting this '5G will change the world'.

They said it about 4G as well, and sure, a lot became possible with mobile devices because of it. But all in all, it's just faster internet.

Umm.. 4g did change the world though. "Just faster internet" is like calling the planes "just a faster truck"

I definitely didn't understand anything about 5G being better at fixed locations, e.g. factories, where the comparison isn't really against 4G, but against wifi. What benefit does 5G have over the latest 802.11 spec?

Indeed. What's the point in being able to use up the 22GB data cap on my "unlimited" plan in five minutes instead of seventy minutes?

You only need about 70 Kbit/second to use 22 GB in a month. Would you be happy with a wireless plan that only gave you 70 Kbit/second? Probably not.

For the large number of people, probably a majority, who in most months don't hit their caps their two main annoyances with wireless performance are poor signal and things taking too long.

Yep. I'm just making the argument that there's no quality of life difference between a 40 megabit mobile connection and a 700 megabit one. If 5G came with a massive range improvement instead of a speed boost I'd be excited, but it doesn't. I can't check email at my grandparent's house now and I still won't be able to after 5G deployment.

The reason their are low caps like 22GB is because LTE networks have limited bandwdith. These 5G networks will have 10X bandwidth.

Eventually, the carriers will increase bandwidth caps.

That wasn't true for 3G/4G. Unlimited 3G plans were truly unlimited, and for a while 4G plans were also truly unlimited. My highest data usage in a month was 144GB. At no point in time were "unlimited" plans more restricted than they are now and there is no evidence that trend will suddenly reverse itself with 5G.

It’s basically a bunch of glorified WiFi hotspots.

And honestly, they should start by improving home internet. It's already at the point where 4G is often more reliable.

Oh man. If I could get unlimited 4G home internet and have multiple ISPs to choose from that would be the dream.

That's the current plan with 5G.

In Australia I hear the parroted argument that our NBN effort was pointless because 5G will save us all :-/

It’s faster by an order of magnitude.

As in all things, every order brings new changes distinguishable from the previous order.

5G is designed to enable the Internet of Things, not just to improve speed and watch videos.

Among other things, 5G holds the promise of making traditional wired telecom regulation obsolete, by getting rid of the last mile problem, reducing the tendency toward natural monopoly, and enabling competition.

On a cautionary note, the past 25 years of technology have promised that they "enable competition" (anyone else remember the late 90s ethos of "anyone with a computer can publish on the web!"), yet here we are stuck with Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc. which are some of the largest monopolies in world history.

Technology which serves an amplification role almost always serves rather than breaks monopolies.

It may, on rare occasions, disrupt an existing monopoly. But only on the way to installing a new one.

I don’t see how it reduces competition since the technology requires even more bass stations then does 4G. More infrastructure equals more cost equals more investment required. Only the big players can afford this, and there’s only a few big players left.

5G drastically eases the bottleneck on available spectrum. There’s tons of spectrum up in the millimeter wave bands, which means you don’t need to spend billions up front on spectrum to start deploying the technology.

At the same time wireless dramatically reduces the cost per household served. The fan-out problem for wired internet is brutal. It can cost almost as much to bring fiber from a subdivision into each house as it does to bring it to the subdivision in the first place. (It’s way easier to just string fiber along some utility poles to the edge of a subdivision than to then trench it through a couple of hundred yards.)

Perhaps in a perfect world where a competent local government owns the poles.

You may be shocked to hear that Verizon or Spectrum won’t provide cheap or timely service to competitors looking to rent pole space.

They want to be able to easily boil the organs of any target by simply typing coordinates in 3D space for multiple towers to focus their beams on. It's a weapon pretending to be a useful innocent technology so no one will protest its widespread deployment.

This is remind me of when Trump gave a statement about 5G. He said something like "Right now we have 5G, which is great. Soon we will have 6G which will be even better."

640 KB is all you'll ever need!

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