C|NET’s 5G Glossary

Do you want to show off your 5G knowledge to your friends? Or seem like the smartest person at a party? Check out C|NET’s 5G glossary below. 

5G NR 

The 5G bit is pretty obvious, but the NR stands for New Radio. You don’t have to know a lot about this beyond the fact that it’s the name of the standard that the entire wireless industry is rallying behind, and it just came out in December.

That’s important because it means everyone is on the same page when it comes to their mobile 5G networks. Carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile are following 5G NR as they build their networks. But Verizon, which began testing 5G as a broadband replacement service before the standard was approved, isn’t using the standard — yet. The company says it’ll eventually adopt 5G NR for its broadband service, and intends to use NR for its 5G mobile network.

Millimeter wave

All cellular networks use airwaves to ferry data over the air, with standard networks using spectrum in lower frequency bands like 700 megahertz. Generally, the higher the band or frequency, the higher the speed you can achieve. The consequence of higher frequency, however, is a shorter range.

To achieve those crazy-high 5G speeds, you need really, really high-frequency spectrum. The millimeter wave range falls between 24 gigahertz and 100 gigahertz.

The problem with super-high-frequency spectrum, besides the short range, is it’s pretty finicky — a leaf blows the wrong way and you get interference. Forget about obstacles like walls. Companies like Verizon are working on using software and broadcasting tricks to get around these problems and ensure stable connections.

Small cell

Traditional cellular coverage typically stems from gigantic towers littered with different radios and antennas. Those antennas are able to broadcast signals at a great distance, so you don’t need a lot of them. Small cells are the opposite —  backpack-size radios can be hung up on street lamps, poles rooftops or other areas. They can only broadcast a 5G signal at a short range, so the idea is to have a large number of them in a densely packed network. 

Some cities have this kind of dense network in place, but if you go outside of the metro area, that’s where small cells become more of a challenge. 

Sub-6GHz

Given how troublesome really high-band spectrum can be (see the “millimeter wave” section above), there’s a movement to embrace spectrum at a much lower frequency, or anything lower than 6GHz. The additional benefit is that carriers can use the spectrum they already own to get going on 5G networks. T-Mobile, for instance, has a swath of 600MHz spectrum it plans to use to power its 5G deployment. Prior to sub-6GHz, that would’ve been impossible.

That’s why you’re seeing more carriers embrace the lower-frequency spectrum.

But the lower-frequency spectrum has the opposite problem: While it reaches great distances, it doesn’t have the same speed and capacity as millimeter wave spectrum.

The ideal down the line will be for carriers to use a blend of the two.

Gigabit LTE

You’re hearing more about Gigabit LTE as a precursor to 5G. Ultimately it’s about much higher speeds on the existing LTE network. But the work going toward building a Gigabit LTE network provides the foundation for 5G.

For more on Gigabit LTE, read our explainer here.

MIMO

An abbreviation of “multiple inputs, multiple outputs.” Basically, it’s the idea of shoving more antennas into our phones and on cellular towers. And you can always have more antennas. They feed into the faster Gigabit LTE network, and companies are deploying what’s known as 4×4 MIMO, in which four antennas are installed in a phone.

Carrier aggregation 

Wireless carriers can take different bands of radio frequencies and bind them together so phones like the Samsung Galaxy S8 can pick and choose the speediest and least congested one available. Think of it as a three-lane highway so cars can weave in and out depending on which lane has less traffic.

QAM 

This is a term that’s so highly technical, I don’t even bother to explain the nuance. It stands for quadrature amplitude modulation. See? Don’t even worry about it.

What you need to know is that it allows traffic to move quickly in a different way than carrier aggregation or MIMO. Remember that highway analogy? Well, with 256 QAM, you’ll have big tractor trailers carrying data instead of tiny cars. MIMO, carrier aggregation and QAM are already going into 4G networks, but play an important role in 5G too.

Beamforming 

This is a way to direct 5G signals in a specific direction, potentially giving you your own specific connection. Verizon has been using beamforming for millimeter wave spectrum, getting around obstructions like walls or trees.

Unlicensed spectrum 

Cellular networks all rely on what’s known as licensed spectrum, which they own and purchased from the government.

But the move to 5G comes with the recognition that there just isn’t enough spectrum when it comes to maintaining wide coverage. So the carriers are moving to unlicensed spectrum, similar to the kind of free airwaves that our Wi-Fi networks ride on.

Network slicing

This is the ability to carve out individual slivers of spectrum to offer specific devices the kind of connection they need. For instance, the same cellular tower can offer a lower-power, slower connection to a sensor for a connected water meter in your home, while at the same time offering a faster, lower-latency connection to a self-driving car that’s navigating in real time.

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RCRC: Rural Broadband Update – No 5G Acceleration

In Verizon’s quarterly earnings call with media and shareholders, the nationwide carrier revealed it does not intend to accelerate the buildout of its 5G network. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently finalized a rule and order that will preempt local government oversight of broadband deployment to promote 5G buildouts but the latest news from Verizon suggests the rule has minimal impact on carriers’ 5G plans. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai also claimed the rule would facilitate 5G deployment in rural areas, but the FCC’s lone Democrat, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, said the new rule will do nothing to change “the hard economics of rural deployment.”

The FCC pointed to complaints from Verizon as justification for their controversial rule that preempts local fees and regulations of broadband deployment. The FCC passed the rule over the fierce objection of RCRC and other state and local government groups. The rule is estimated to save nationwide carriers over $2 billion in regulatory fees but it appears these savings will not lead to more broadband deployment.

Source: RCRC The Barbed Wire [Highlight Added]

This is why rural America is not going to see 5G anytime in the near future, the cost is too great for the population density.  If you do not have 4G now, you are not going to see 5G for a long long time, if ever. Rural America needs to join the Community Network movement and take control of their own destiny and not rely on big telco to bring them high-speed internet.

5G Airwaves Auction

— AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are among the companies the FCC has deemed qualified to bid in its upcoming auction for 5G spectrum licenses. The FCC on Wednesday released the list of 40 companies that have qualified and made upfront payments to bid in the 28 GHz auction, set to begin Nov. 14. In addition to the wireless companies, DISH — filing under the name Crestone Wireless — and Frontier Communications also made the cut.

— Back to back auctions: The FCC plans to auction off airwaves in the 24 GHz band after the 28 auction ends. The agency also released a list of 58 companies that it says filed complete applications, including Cox Communications and Starry. Sprint also intends to participate, under its ATI Sub subsidiary, a spokeswoman said.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

Will South Dakota Get 5G?

Apparently the answer is NO, according to POTs and PANs Doug Dawson.

I don’t have a crystal ball and I can’t say that somebody won’t invest in 5G in states like South Dakota. But I understand business plans and paybacks and I can’t foresee any of the current big ISPs in the industry making the needed investments where housing density is low. Smaller ISPs can’t raise the huge amount of needed money. It’s certainly possible that some of the neighborhoods a few cities in the state might see some 5G, but that’s probably not going to be on anybody’s radar for a while. I’m skeptical because I just can’t see a way to make the math work.

Full Post by Doug Dawson is HERE.

Doug makes some excellent points that can be applied to any sparsely populated areas. Take the census maps and look a the population density and you will see where G5 is not going to go. It takes customers to pay off the investment, and 5G when you consider the cost of the required infrastructure rural communities are going to get left at the altar once again by big telco. If you do not have 4G in your neighborhood now, you will most likely never see 5G either.

FCC Falsely Claims Community Broadband an ‘Ominous Threat to The First Amendment

In reality, the real threat posed by community broadband is to big telecom’s monopoly revenues.

More than 750 such networks have been built in the United States in direct response to a lack of meaningful broadband competition and availability plaguing America. Studies have routinely shown that these networks provide cheaper and better broadband service, in large part because these ISPs have a vested interest in the communities they serve.

In his speech, O’Rielly highlighted efforts by the last FCC, led by former boss Tom Wheeler, to encourage such community-run broadband networks as a creative solution to private sector failure. O’Rielly subsequently tried to claim, without evidence, that encouraging such networks would somehow result in government attempts to censor public opinion

The full article is HERE.

Community networks are a better solution than waiting for the 5G that will never come.

Wireless Lawsuits Pile Up Against FCC 5G Order

— It turns out Sprint was not the only wireless giant to feel shortchanged by the FCC’s September order aimed at helping carriers deploy 5G small infrastructure. AT&T filed its own legal challenge in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, as did Puerto Rico Telephone Co. in the First Circuit . “AT&T is affected by the determinations in the Order because delays on requests for authorization to construct postpone deployment of wireless facilities,” the carrier wrote. “AT&T is thus aggrieved by the Order and has standing to challenge it.”

— Although wireless companies were seen as the big winner at the expense of local government authority in the FCC’s order, industry is complaining that the commission should have included a provision to automatically grant their applications for installing small cell facilities if local governments fail to act in a timely fashion. As for what’s next: With these companies filing in the D.C. Circuit, 1st Circuit and 10th Circuit, and big cities like Los Angeles and Seattle challenging the order in the 9th Circuit, watch for a court lottery to determine which judges will ultimately handle the case.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

The question is will these court cases slow down the installation of 5G infrastructure?