CFX Tech: Where is 5G?

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

CFX Tech: Where is 5G?
By Sara Winegardner
June 9, 2020

CFX Tech: Where is 5G?

By Sara Winegardner | June 9, 2020

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted just how essential connectivity has become. Whether it’s being used for work or play, the internet has entangled itself into every aspect of our lives, and the strength of the network to bear that traffic has become more important than ever before.

As the world begins to re-open, folks are leaving their homes and the safety of their WiFi network speeds. Conversation around the need for 5G has been reignited. Not all of it has been positive, with some claiming that technology may somehow contribute to the spread of COVID-19. But officials and executives alike have been working hard to calm fears surrounding those conspiracy theories and convince Americans that greater network investment can only be a good thing.

“Conjectures about 5G’s effect on human health are long on panic and short on science,” FCC general counsel Tom Johnson wrote in a Washington Post op-ed published Thursday. He added that without connectivity, folks would be unable to work and learn from home during the pandemic. If providers don’t invest in the next great advancement, the US may not be prepared the next time disaster strikes. “If we delay 5G deployment based on irrational fears and unproven theories, it will only hurt the American people as we plot our path forward.”

Kurt Michel, vp, marketing for edge infrastructure provider Veea, also believes in the future of 5G. With devices multiplying and consumer patience surrounding network speed and latency on the decline, providers have to continue investing in what has kept the world spinning during a pandemic. That also means paying attention to what’s happening at the edge and ensuring no data bottlenecks exist when 5G devices connect to the network.

“I think we’re really lucky to have had the pandemic hit at this point in time where we have sufficient data connection resources to at least keep people connected and moving forward,” Michel said. “The pandemic has only solidified the argument that we have to continue moving forward with 5G.”

At the same time, the pandemic has given those looking to deploy 5G around the world plenty of headaches. The COVID-19 pandemic has already forced Canada to postpone its next 5G spectrum auction until June 2021 in an effort to encourage operators to prioritize delivering solid connectivity while families are still stuck at home. Rakuten Mobile was forced to delay the launch of its 5G service in Japan until the fall.

Here in the US, wireless providers are largely on track with their plans to deliver 5G. The largest hurdles continue to be at the local government level. T-Mobile and AT&T are both claiming that delays in network expansion are to be blamed on delays by local governments in issuing proper permits. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson also said on the company’s 1Q20 earnings call that although the company is also facing workforce challenges, it will still launch nationwide 5G this summer. T-Mobile launched its nationwide 5G network back in December.

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg has said that modems for the company’s high-powered 5G Home product would not be ready until at least October because of a delay in the manufacturing of Qualcomm chipsets needed to make the devices fully operational. Currently, the home product is only available in areas of Chicago, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Houston and Indianapolis.

Verizon has been working on expanding 5G Home since 2017, but has been limited due to its utilization of millimeter wave spectrum. The only homes currently eligible for the product must have a window with a direct view of a 5G panel.