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Yves Smith: it was common knowledge that there was no business case for it, which would be news to anyone reading the press.

This is nothing new for anyone familiar with the telco industry. The telco operators around the world are barely breaking even with their 4G network investments started over ten years ago. Deploying 5G NR (New Radio) will cost more, but the real challenge is that people are not ready to pay more for 5G than they are paying for 4G today, hence the lousy business case.

To convince investors and politicians, telco execs have cranked up the hype machine to 11: 5G, which is basically "another G", coming after 3G and 4G, is supposed to revolutionize our world, usher in a new industrial revolution thanks to always on multi gigabit, low latency connectivity. The favorite "use cases" often cited are immersive VR/AR, remote surgery (not likely anytime soon: reliability) and of course, the autonomous car which, we're being told, couldn't possibly exist without 5G.

Oh, and look who's at the top of the 2019 Gartner hype cycle.

There are several versions of 5G: the one that will bring the highest throughput (gigabits per second) is running over millimeter waves, 28 GHz band in the US, the only country to date where millimeter waves is deployed in some test cities. Trouble is: millimeter waves have a very short range (less than 50m), are stopped by walls (no indoor coverage), foliage etc...
This is why it is using many "small cells" every city block or so, connected by fiber optic backhaul. All this of course requires a lot of capex, which pretty much limits these networks to dense city centers.

by Bernard on Fri Dec 6th, 2019 at 09:38:17 PM EST
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