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5G may not be the end of fixed line broadband
Saturday 05 July 2014 14:42:38 by Andrew Ferguson

The next technological advance is always the one to solve all our current problems and thus we are seeing laboratory tests of 5G mobile broadband with claims in the order of 5 Gbps to 10 Gbps. Unfortunately a YouTube video by Ericsson reveals what many radio people already understood.

Ericsson lab demo of 5G mobile broadband, showing how much an arm attenuates signal
click image for higher resolution version

The screen grab above shows the massive dip in throughput from the demonstrator putting their arm in the way of the 15 GHz signal, with the 5 Gbps speeds demonstrated only when it is clear air and as yet no real information on how it performs more real world distances than the 1 to 2 metres of this clip.

5G may have the potential to support extremely high speeds, but it is likely to need a very dense network of transmission towers which will pretty much confine it dense urban areas and even then if attenuation of one arm is representative of real world performance reception on a busy high street will be intermittent.

The EU and the UK Government are backing 5G in the hope to attract R&D into Europe and avoid the mess of 4G where Europe and the UK have lagged behind other countries.

"It will also offer totally new possibilities to connect people, and also things – being cars, houses, energy infrastructures. All of them at once, wherever you and they are."

Vice-President of the European Commission Neelie Kroes

The question that no politician is asking if 5G is going to give more capacity and lower energy consumption, does this mean that more masts will be needed to cover the same area, and by implication 5G is going to be worse for rural communities than 4G is promising to be.


Posted by keith969 over 2 years ago
If 5G really is 15 GHz then it is line of sight communication, pretty much. No use for anyone not near an antenna. Any object between you and the mast... forget it.
Posted by herdwick over 2 years ago
2cm wavelength ?
Posted by thomaswarne over 2 years ago
technology should be going forwards and yes i can see they are trying but they are going backwards as they are saying 4g is going to better than 5g :/
Posted by prlzx over 2 years ago
Distinguishing between research tech and practical tech is not traditionally a politician's strong point.

We had a similar moment when someone in management suggested that 4G means it doesn't matter much whether Wi-Fi is deployed in the offices and that visitors attending meetings just might need to present something from the Internet.

They seem unable to guess what happens to throughput when hundreds of phones try to use a mobile data connection, or worse if the corporate contract means all work-issued devices were using the same operator.
Posted by chrysalis over 2 years ago
until mobile broadband can cater for high usage its never going to even be in the same league as fixed line broadband never mind replace it. Then we have the huge gaops between claimed speeds and real life, e.g. here 3G is sub 2mbit. nowhere near what it is supposed to do. My friend's 4G phone gets 2.9mbit in my flat only .9mbit faster than 3G.
Posted by mobilebb over 2 years ago
Not much point criticising lab tests so early in development, this is how they all start out. Ericsson is also only one of several options and they all seem scalable to different spectrum bands. I doubt 5G will completely replace fixed lines in the UK (unless BT fail to keep pace) but, just like 3G and 4G, it will have some probably greater impact.. just wait 4-8 years now to see how much. Then we can look at the pros and cons of what has resulted.
Posted by jroadley over 2 years ago
A decent overall 3G service, with investment in infrastructure would be nice. Take any phone on any network 10 miles out of a city and they all drop back to 2G

Posted by TheEulerID over 2 years ago
"Unfortunately a YouTube video by Ericsson reveals what many radio people already understood."

I don't think it's unfortunate at all that a YouTube video has revealed this fundamental issue. What is unfortunate is that some people have been under a misapprehension.

It's inescapable that the higher speed the wireless transmission rate, the shorter the range and the more transmitters that are required.
Posted by TheEulerID over 2 years ago
Incidentally, it's worth mentioning that rain attenuation becomes a big issue with frequencies above 10Ghz.
Posted by otester over 2 years ago
Latency is still quite high on 4G.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 2 years ago
Perhaps a more viable approach might be to use a Wireless link back to the street cabinet as a potential low cost way of bypassing that bit of copper
Posted by Bob_s2 over 2 years ago
Quote"Not much point criticising lab tests so early in development, this is how they all start out"

No amount of development will overcome the fact that at those sorts of frequencies you need a clear line of site. Any obstructions will cut or attenuate the signal
Posted by otester over 2 years ago
@Bob_s2 I very much doubt they would deploy commercially on those frequencies.
Posted by leexgx over 2 years ago
15Ghz is for HD TV stuff short range 1 meter at best

mobile tech can only really use 2ghz down to 700mhz
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