February 27, 2018
Qualcomm just revealed the results of tests it ran in Frankfurt and San Francisco to determine real-world speeds of 5G networks. The tests took geography, user demands, and various devices with different levels of LTE/5G connectivity to simulate real-world conditions. The tests were also focused on 5G NR (New Radio) networks, built in tandem with existing 4G LTE networks, that could launch as early as next year. Presented at the Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm results show that just how fast the new networks will be.
The Verge reports that, in Frankfurt, the network — “based on 100 MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum with an underlying gigabit-LTE network on 5 LTE spectrum bands” — saw browsing skyrocket from 56 Mbps to more than 490 Mbps, “with roughly seven times faster response rates.” Download speeds increased to at least 100 Mbps on 5G for 90 percent of users, versus 8 Mbps on LTE.
In San Francisco, “Qualcomm modeled a network operating in 800 MHz of 28 GHz mmWave spectrum, built on top of a gigabit-LTE network on four licensed LTE bands in addition to License Assisted Access (LAA) bands.”
Browsing went from 71 Mbps for the median 4G user to 1.4 Gbps for the median 5G user, equaling a response time “roughly 23 times faster.” Download speeds went from “at least 10 Mbps to 186 Mbps on 5G, with the median speed clocking in at 442 Mbps,” for 90 percent of users.
The median 5G user was also able to stream 8K, 120 fps, 10-bit color video. The Verge points out, “they’re still only tests” and “device manufacturers and cellular companies will need to build devices that can take advantage of the faster speeds, as well as actually build out the infrastructure of the non-standalone 5G and gigabit-LTE networks.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that, “a handful of companies in the U.S. and Asia are expected to start offering commercial fifth-generation, or 5G, service as soon as this year.” Although full-fledged 5G networks will not roll out immediately, AT&T, Verizon, Australia’s Optus and Finland’s Elisa “will start small, using just one element of a package of 5G engineering standards that are still being written.”
What’s coming this year is “fixed wireless” service that uses outdoor antennae rather than cable to get 5G into the home — but not to mobile phones or other connected devices. To achieve its full promise, “5G technology, unlike past network upgrades planned around cellphones, will need millions of new cellular radio antennae that have yet to be installed.” Landline companies “with access to telephone poles” may have an edge.
In California, Verizon plans to roll out in Sacramento this year; in Texas and Georgia, AT&T will launch in 12 cities, starting in Dallas, Waco and Atlanta; and Telus in Canada will offer wireless broadcast “as soon as this year.” South Korea’s KT tested a 5G network version at the Winter Olympics.
FCC Chief Calls for 5G Auctions to Kickstart Development, The Wall Street Journal, 2/26/18
Network Builders See Light at the End of Tunnel With 5G, Bloomberg, 2/26/18
U.S. Wireless Carriers Plan to Launch 5G With ‘Pucks’ Not Phones, Bloomberg, 2/26/18