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.
The most important promise made by the proprietors of 5G wireless technology -- the telecommunications service providers, the transmission equipment makers, the antenna manufacturers, and even the server manufacturers -- is this: Once all of 5G's components are fully deployed and operational, you will not need any kind of wire or cable to deliver communications or even entertainment service to your mobile device, to any of your fixed devices (HDTV, security system, smart appliances), or to your automobile. If everything works, 5G would be the optimum solution to the classic "last mile" problem: Delivering complete digital connectivity from the tip of the carrier network to the customer, without drilling another hole through the wall. Also: Should 5G be in your 2020 IT budget? Overlooked by London's skyscrapers EE's 5G mobile trial kicks off. The "if" in that previous sentence remains colossal. The whole point of "Gs" in wireless standards, originally, was to emphasize the ease of transition between one wireless system of delivery and a newer one -- or at least make that transition seem reasonably pain-free. Once complete, the 5G transition plan 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.
The analogy that product managers liked to invoke in the 1980s and 1990s, whenever their companies were upgrading a popular line of software, was that it was like replacing the engine on an airplane in-flight. Assuming everything ends up working out, the 5G Wireless transition should be the equivalent of a part-for-part reconstitution, reassembly, and refueling of an entire fleet while it's up in the air and performing maneuvers. But this fleet happens to have flown into a massive thunderstorm in the midst of an earthquake. The pandemic has sent shock waves through manufacturers' typical supply chains, and the first of what could be several extended lockdown periods resulted in a measurable demand shock economic event. Meanwhile, the United States Government has officially thrown down the gauntlet, forcing manufacturers here to exclude China's Huawei from their 5G supply chains. Extending a November 2019 order prohibiting US companies from using outlays from the country's Universal Service Fund to purchase equipment from companies whose host countries pose a threat to national security, on June 30, the Federal Communications Commission designated Huawei as one of those companies.