On April 25th, AT&T announced they are launching a new network they call “5G Evolution”. The announcement seemingly kicked off a scramble. T-Mobile announced on May 2nd that they will utilize part of the spectrum they won in the latest FCC spectrum for a 5G network of their own. So what’s really the deal here?
An AT&T press release stated:
AT&T today announced 5G Evolution plans to pave the way to the next generation of faster speeds for its wireless customers with the latest devices in over 20 major metro areas by the end of this year. We continue to lay the foundation for our evolution to 5G while the 5G standards are being finalized.
AT&T’s new network is not really 5G. That’s a fact. It’s a genius move nevertheless. The second largest carrier in the nation is getting in on the game early with marketing. The casual consumer would associate the term “5G” with AT&T, even though Evolution is simply accelerated existing 4G technology. In fact, that press release references utilizing 256 QAM and 4×4 MIMO antennas. Yes, that’s pretty cool. It isn’t as cool as it would be if T-Mobile hadn’t already been using that tech for months.
T-Mobile (NASDAQ: TMUS) today became the first US wireless company to announce plans for truly nationwide 5G. On top of expanding and strengthening its LTE coverage, the Un-carrier will use a portion of its $8 billion mother lode of low-band 600 MHz spectrum to deliver 5G coverage from coast to coast.
5G rollout is expected to begin in 2019 with a target of 2020 for full nationwide coverage.
It’s important to note that 600 MHz spectrum, which is very low, long-distance frequency, won’t get the job done on its own. Higher frequencies would allow for faster speeds that would really meet the expectations of the label. Magenta also pointed out that other carriers and “Big Cable” are chasing something called Fixed 5G for home internet. As ambitious as that prospect is, Legere claims it won’t meet the needs of mobile internet.
Here’s the real deal. 5G doesn’t really exist – yet. The technology is currently being developed, but nothing officially meets the standard. This is all reminiscent of when both AT&T and T-Mobile branded HSPA+ as 4G, when it was really just faster 3G. Remember when T-Mobile forced iPhones to display a 4G icon when on HSPA+? Here’s another kicker: LTE doesn’t fully meet the agreed-upon standards of 4G either.
Yes, this is marketing. Yes, it’s all about branding. It’s still frustrating.
What do you geeks think? Do you even care about what gets to be called what? Or, do you just want a fast mobile network and don’t care what it’s called? Let us know in the comments!