Standalone 5G networks are coming

This is what I’ve been saying to people who say 5G is not worth it. Wait for standalone 5G so all calls and data are 5G end-to-end. Then I think that the low and mid radio bands will be a nice sweet spot for transfer speed, latency and coverage. Note that none of the currently available devices can use standalone 5G and require LTE for signalling and current 5G towers will need to be upgraded for standalone 5G (probably just a software upgrade).

This is a good step but even the radio network needs fine tuning, additional tower coverage (to compensate for attenuation) and firmware compatibility fixes to address capacity and allow for the 5G enhancements.

Not to mention, the core network would have to be engineered to the providers specifications, this also means redundant cores and/or support for roaming providers. What is good about modern core networks is that they can be virtualized and connected in layers but it means additional resources and training/support.

This is another big issue for cellular phone manufacturers to tackle and in these times with an uncertain market could cause delays and R&D expenditures that are out of control. This could take another 2-3 years to correct even after the 5G network is built.

This is also not likely to happen in countries such as Canada until everything is worked out. We have fantastic 3G networks and connectivity all over. 4G/LTE-(M) is still being fine tuned and deployed in urban areas as the hardware is replaced, frequencies re-allocated and features like VoIP are implemented in the core networks. For 5G, we are still waiting for the Government and regulatory bodies to work out a implementation plan as well as a technical study.

The article does not touch on these issues again but like some of those in the business I’m getting rather impatient having to read and write about it for months and then hoping for something better.

It’s good that 5G is coming but this is the second time I’m having a déjà vu. The last fully functional rollout has been with 3G, I believe. LTE – data only, fall-back to 3G for voice calls, etc. 5G – basically, a standalone network for Internet access only. I was hoping that after having moved to packet-switching networks with LTE, 5G would come in smoothly.

I also think that this isn’t the last time I’m having a déjà vu. 3G was supposed to meet the slowly growing bandwidth demand. It kinda worked. Then the broadband exploded and 3G was not enough. So, everybody started getting excited about LTE, which was supposed to be the answer for universal access to a high-speed network. Well, it was too little too late, and the demand had grown before LTE was fully rolled out. Now, we have 5G and the story goes on again.

I wonder if Dish will be able to jump ahead of the others since they have to build their network from scratch?

Yes I remember the first 3G phones in the UK was data only and had to drop back to 2G for calls. That’s similar to the current crop of 5G phones - calls over LTE and data over 5G