We all know the old saw about pushing a strand of spaghetti uphill, and I\u2019ve got to wonder whether that\u2019s what we\u2019re now doing with 5G.\nFirst, 5G is going to happen because of the orderly process of modernizing wireless networks.\u00a0 It doesn\u2019t need \u201cjustifying\u201d. The problem is that vendors want 5G to be revolutionary and transformational, rather than orderly. Second, that need to seem revolutionary has pushed 5G stories to the boundaries of sensibility.\nTake the \u201c5G is a lot faster\u201d story. I have 5G on one phone and 4G on another, from the same operator. I couldn\u2019t see any difference between the two in anything I did. I don\u2019t pay anything extra for 5G, though, so I\u2019m perfectly fine with that, but it does mean that I\u2019m not much of a revenue hope for the operators, and neither are others like me. What phones are capable of doing, and what users are interested in doing with them, doesn\u2019t challenge most 4G delivery, much less justify 5G.\nOK, how about some other 5G features? One suggestion is that businesses will want to pay more for 5G to get their very own network slice, or maybe their own private 5G network. Network slicing is a kind of multi-tenant capability for wireless networks, a strategy to separate business users from the madding 5G crowd. Yes, it could provide more security, but check with your operators to find out just where you can expect to use one of those slices. Or maybe don\u2019t bother; it may take years for slices to be pervasive, and only then if operators take a leap of faith and invest to offer them (AT&T and Verizon both hedged on implementation of the 5G specifications for slicing).\u00a0 Eventually, this could be a limited opportunity, but not anytime soon.\nPrivate 5G? Has your company set aside funding for spectrum auctions? You\u2019re bidding against big telcos who have spent billions, but think big. Anyway, you could use public spectrum or shared spectrum, right? Of course, you\u2019d still need to build your own network, including towers and radios, wherever you expect to use that spectrum. Maybe the billions for spectrum wasn\u2019t the big financial issue after all. Once you\u2019ve deployed, everything will be great as long as nobody else on the spectrum plays dirty. Sell that to the CFO. There are companies that could justify private 5G, but it\u2019s not a mainstream opportunity.\nThen there\u2019s IoT. In pure marketing terms, it makes sense to turn devices into cellular customers when you start depleting the market among humans, but do we really think people or companies are going to pay for sensor connection via 5G on a large scale, when we already connect sensors in other ways (like Wi-Fi) for free? How many \u201cthings\u201d have we managed to \u201cinternet\u201d without 5G, and why wouldn\u2019t those old ways continue to work, without adding 5G \u201cthing-plans\u201d to \u201cfamily plans?\u201d\nThis is getting silly. How much 5G spaghetti do we have to push before we accept that maybe we should be eating it instead? Start your meal of 5G realism with the lowly dongle. 5G can be used to connect a local Wi-Fi hotspot with enough capacity to share among a group of users.\u00a0 It\u2019s a great disaster-recovery strategy, and it\u2019s a small part of another great opportunity, which is using 5G to replace wireline broadband. AT&T has recently announced it would be expanding its 5G offerings, to include both 5G backup and 5G replacement of wireline broadband for businesses. Dongle 5G, supporting multiple users, would need the extra bandwidth 5G can supply.\nWireline broadband replacement works for residential, too. I just read an article where a politician suggested that we should establish 100Mbps as the minimum broadband speed throughout the US.\u00a0 Policy without realization isn\u2019t helpful, though. The reason why we don\u2019t have universal fast broadband is that in many areas, there\u2019s no way to distribute it profitably, and no private company is going to lose money to fulfill a promise from a politician. Enter 5G.\nThe use of millimeter-wave 5G from neighborhood node\/microcell locations to the home or office could bring up to 1 Gbps broadband to users as far as several miles away, without any need to run fiber or CATV to the home or figure out how to get DSL over copper loop to work at those speeds. It\u2019s hard to get good data on this, but my model says that virtually every small town, and many suburban neighborhoods that can\u2019t get good broadband today could get a gigabit this way.\nThat\u2019s not the end of the benefit, either. Standard mobile-service 5G could service customers five or 10 times as distant from a standard tower.\u00a0 Could we give them all that 100Mbps baseline capacity? That\u2019s hard to say because the necessary 5G technology is still evolving, but my 5G engineer friends say it\u2019s not out of the question. With the combination of millimeter-wave 5G and mobile 5G, we could cover probably 90% of users with 5G-fixed-broadband. Best of all, both kinds of 5G would be cheaper than new fiber-to-the-home or CATV deployments, and operators might be willing to offer them without subsidies.\nThe trouble is that this seems boring compared with 5G robots and a houseful of 5G \u201cthings\u201d. Let\u2019s face it, we\u2019re working harder on entertaining ourselves with 5G stories than on realizing 5G value. Why not consider space aliens plopping down and demanding 5G coverage for their smartphones? We may be mere days from somebody writing a story about that possibility. Or maybe we can turn our pets into 5G IoT users by injecting them with radios or teach them to use smartphones. Or maybe we can just get real.\nWishing doesn\u2019t create business cases, and uphill isn\u2019t the easiest path for technology any more than it is for spaghetti. 5G value can be promoted if we accept that it\u2019s going to come from things that we can already identify and that can exploit 5G\u2019s capacity benefits. 5G doesn\u2019t need over-promotion to be valuable, just more work on the things that can really make business cases, even boring ones.