Like 4G before it, 5G is being hyped

U.S. carriers are talking about their 5G wireless offerings before they actually have services that meet the likely 5G standard, and they face stiff competition from China and others to lead the way.

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Update 5/21/2020: AT&T Inc. says it will stop using the phrases "5G Evolution" and "5G Evolution, The First Step to 5G" in marketing its 4G LTE network that provides 5G speeds, according to CNN. The National Advertising Review Board recommended the change, saying the language "will mislead reasonable customers" into thinking they're buying a 5G servivce. AT&T said in a statement that it "respectfully disagrees" with the recommendation but said it would comply. 

Just as it did with 4G, AT&T has once again jumped the gun and announced that it was deploying 5G (actually, they’re calling it 5G+) in 12 cities, while deploying so-called “5GE” in other cities, only to be challenged by its three major competitors, who claim that AT&T was merely re-branding a faster version of 4G as 5G and misleading the public about the technology.

As exciting as this news sounds, it requires some caveats.  First, “5GE” isn’t 5G at all, but faster 4G, also known as “Gigabit LTE.”  Second, while AT&T claims 5G+ can achieve speeds of 200-300 Mbps, it says the technology is “delivered over millimeter wave spectrum,” which is only one aspect of the 3GPP 5G New Radio Standard for true 5G. (3GPP 5G also entails small cells, beamforming, and MIMO, all of which are missing from AT&T’s description of 5G+.)

AT&T did the same thing with 4G several years ago, and received the same derisive reaction, but apparently, it has a short memory. In fairness, AT&T is deploying newly licensed spectrum to boost the capacity of its 4G network by up to 50 percent in hundreds of 5GE markets, which will result in faster speeds – but not true 5G.

In full-page ads in major cities’ daily newspapers, Verizon has challenged the wireless industry to be honest about 5G to avoid confusion and misleading the public. Despite its sanctimony, Verizon Wireless’s own version of “5G” isn’t based on the 3GPP 5G New Radio Standard, but rather Verizon’s own homegrown version of 5G, which it calls “5GTF.”

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