Last September, consumers began to see the first service bundles offered by telecommunications companies in their area, marketed with some form of the term "5G." "5G is here," declared Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg, specifically for cities such as Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Indianapolis where rival AT&T had already been drumming up excitement around its 5G trials. It was a bit like SpaceX's 2016 announcement, its 2017 announcement, and its 2018 announcement that the race to Mars had begun. Overlooked by London's skyscrapers EE's 5G mobile trial kicks off. Today, 3GPP specifies which technologies constitute 5G Wireless and, by exclusion, which do not. One key goal of 5G is to dramatically improve quality of service, and extend that quality over a broader geographic area, in order for the wireless industry to remain competitive against the onset of gigabit fiber service coupled with Wi-Fi. The 5G transition plan, once complete, would constitute an overhaul of communications infrastructure unlike any other in history.
We talk way too often about what a technology enables people to do. Its objective is to spread a very fast signal through the airwaves, using transmitters whose power curve is just under the threshold of requiring artificial cooling. It needs to be faster than what we have now, for enough customers and enough providers to invest in it, so that it may achieve that main objective. Assuming 5G deployment proceeds as planned, and the various vast political conspiracies, small and large, fail to derail the telecommunications providers' plans, it will reach the peak of its goals once it has achieved the virtualization of its packet core (which was begun with 4G LTE), its radio access networks (RAN), and the customer-facing functions of its data centers. But it's from atop the highest peak, as any Everest climber or any great John Denver song might tell you, that one obtains the best view of oneself, and one's own place in the world. The common presumption, when the topic of network functions virtualization (NFV) is brought up with respect to 5G, is that all this virtualization will take place on a single platform. Not only is this critical issue undecided, but there would appear to be a dispute over the decided or undecided nature of the issue itself.
The edge, as telecommunications providers (telcos) perceive it, is the part of their networks that resides closest to their customers in the supply chain. The closer that content stores and databases may be brought to their consumers, the easier they become not only to access, but also to maintain. On the web, multimedia content (e.g., Netflix, videos from CNET) is brought closer to the customer through the use of data centers with exclusive, high-bandwidth connectivity. These content delivery networks (CDNs) prove their value proposition, ironically, by bypassing the internet, tunneling around its public routes and extending themselves as close to their end-users as possible. Telcos are hopeful they can earn desperately needed revenue from 5G by offering cloud computing and data center hosting services that compete, respectively, with the likes of Amazon and Equinix.
These are phenomena brought about by the actual technology that inspired its existence in the first place -- one which may not have feasible at the time 4G was conceived. There's nothing about 4G which would have disabled its ability to be sped up, even the millimeter-wave system with which gigabit Internet service would be made available in dense, downtown areas. Wireless Transmitter Facilities (WTF) are too costly to maintain, and run too hot. This would eliminate the need for high-speed processors in the base stations and the antennas, and dramatically reduce cooling costs. For many telcos throughout the world, it could make their networks profitable again. The virtualization of wireless networks' Evolved Packet Core (EPC) is already taking place with 4G LTE. There's no single way to do this -- indeed, EPC is a competitive market with a variety of vendors.
Video: Who are the players in the battle over 5G and why do we care? Two equally, critically important events in the evolution of wireless communications technology took during the third week of May 2018, at or around the same point on the globe. The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), a consortium of the world's principal telecommunications equipment and service providers, met in South Korea to formalize the final standards documents for 5th Generation wireless (5G). From this point forward, these member organizations will at least pretend that the technical disputes regarding the content of 5G standards, have been settled. Read also: What is 5G? The second was the US President's hair-trigger cancellation of the Singapore summit bringing together the leaders of North Korea and America, presumably to discuss a roadmap for the former's denuclearization.