A Little More Light on 5G
5G cellular is touted to be a great many things and can be anything, but without actual specifications being written, it is nothing. However, some common themes have emerged from various participants. With the announcement of a US-focused 5G consortium, there is at least a bit more clarity. That announcement coupled with this one by the FCC where they released “nearly 11 gigahertz of high-frequency spectrum for mobile, flexible and fixed-use wireless broadband”, shows that 5G will continue the cellular world’s chase after greater amounts of throughput. This makes sense, as their primary customers today are high-throughput devices like smartphones. And, from the way things look, they intend to expand into replacing our cable box wires with wireless cable boxes. If you think that the importance of spectrum for high-throughput uses was intense today, then tomorrow’s devices will leave you floored.
Tomorrow’s devices will be ultra-HD (4K) video streaming, 3-D video streaming, virtual reality gaming and experience streaming. That’s only the beginning. So, if spectrum is precious now for carriers, it will only become more important as we move forward, meaning IoT devices will only be further de-prioritized.
New ‘G’, Same ol’ Story
Some may mistakenly believe that the high frequencies released would be an escape valve for the spectrum crunch. Unfortunately, those hopes are ill founded. The high-frequency spectrum will be used for very high-throughput connectivity using extremely advanced technologies (many of which have yet to be put together). That means the current spectrum is really all that is left for traditional 4G-like connectivity. 2G will continue to be re-farmed to make room for more smartphone-like connectivity. IoT devices remain the very low revenue bringer they are today. In terms of the cellular world, they will still bring very little revenue per Hz of bandwidth, and that means they will still be second-class citizens.
In short, 5G will only increase pressure to convert all spectrum to high-throughput, high-paying uses, relegating low-power, wide-area (LPWA) IoT devices to a burden and distraction from cellular carriers’ primary focus. As for IoT connectivity, 5G offers nothing but the same old second-class treatment, but even more abusive as the focus on high-throughput devices becomes more intense.