5G in five (not so) easy pieces

Throughout the world, ink is being spilled and electrons exercised in a frenetic focus on fifth generation wireless technology, or 5G. The 5G discussion, with all its permutations and combinations, has grown to resemble an elementary school soccer game where everyone chases the ball, first in one direction, then another.

There are five often misunderstood facts to know about 5G:

  • 5G is revolutionary because it replaces the hardware components of the network with software that “virtualizes” the network by using the common language of Internet Protocol (IP).
  • 5G is evolutionary as both its new radios and the core network functions are defined as a progression from 4G. Like 4G before it, in most markets 5G will roll out in steps.
  • 5G is not transformational, per se. What will be transformative are the applications that will use the network. The United States was not the first to deploy any of the “G’s” of wireless networks, but nonetheless dominates the wireless ecosystem because of the innovative technologies developed by American entrepreneurs for those networks.
  • 5G is a cybersecurity risk because the network is software based. Earlier networks’ reliance on centralized hardware-based functions offered a security-enhancing choke point. Distributed software-based systems, per se, are more vulnerable.
  • 5G is spectrum dependent. In the long run this means new spectrum allocations. While those are underway, however, the evolution has begun using old spectrum assignments.

“Winning 5G” is not so much a “race” as it is a process.

Source: 5G in five (not so) easy pieces

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