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5G Technology: Hype vs Reality

by Walt Maclay


The promised potential of 5G technology is getting everyone excited. It is expected to spur $1 trillion in global GDP by 2021, according to a recent study by PwC.

5G promises faster data speeds, reduced latency, and greater density for smart devices. However, as early experience has shown, the promise of 5G does not match what is actually available.

To give you an overview, 5G systems include:

  • eMBB (enhanced Mobile Broadband): very high data rates, very high traffic capacity
  • URLLC (Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communications): very low latency, ultra-high availability
  • mMTC (massive Machine Type Communications): very low device cost, supports massive IoT deployments

Currently, 5G does not provide what is promised under the mMTC service class for IoT communication. The proposed 5G standards are still due for completion. The current technology is not optimized for packet size, short sessions, and has inefficient control signaling. 5G offers little new for IoT.

Existing IoT Services including NB-IoT and LTE-M will coexist with 5G technology. These services have good coverage in the U.S., but are not optimized for small data packets, sporadic transmission, lower power, etc. Meanwhile, LoRa, Sigfox, Ingenu and Weightless are not included in 5G but will still work. These non-cellular services are available in the unlicensed spectrum but are not available in many locations nationwide.

To answer the obvious question of what this means for the future of IoT, 5G presents little change for now.

The high speed applications of eMBB require wide coverage, which is not available in current 5G high speed deployments. To get the 2 Gbps speeds promised requires a very dense network of cell sites, which are unlikely to be widely available, so the hyped-up claims about 5G wireless technology will remain just that — hype.

Voler Systems President, Walt Maclay, will give a talk titled “5G Is Overhyped – Learn What It Can Really Do” at the Professional and Technical Consultants Association (PATCA) dinner on Thursday, March 12, 2020, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the Holder’s Country Inn in San Jose, California.

Please visit to reserve your slot.

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