The Near Future

The Reality

When it comes to 5G, don't fear it. It will make your phone faster. It will make the mobile network better. More data will fit in the same spectrum. Eventually, it won't also make your phone hotter and run out of battery power sooner.

But, if it is going to be mostly the same, why did they call the current generation mobile technology Long Term Evolution (LTE), so that no further name change were needed? After all, LTE radios have evolved without a name change. And who are "they," anyway?

They are the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).

Wait! "3rd Generation?" "3G?" As you may surmise, the 3GPP was a body created to define 3G technical specifications. Then came the next generation and, being a bunch of telecom nerds and not marketers, they figured on ending the name changes, referring to new technologies as Long Term Evolution.

In case you are not convinced about 3GPP being nerds not marketers, check out the cool logo:


Did you notice that, instead of "LTE" your phone now says "4G?" That's what happens when the marketers get hold of your network upgrade road map. Now that it is important to get people to use, and pay more, for new network capabilities branding the network as fundamentally new became important. Even the 3GPP made a cool logo for 5G.

Don't buy in to the hype. Guard your wallet from people claiming 5G is a strategic imperative. Be vigilant against network operators leveraging 5G to capture what are currently open and competitive elements of the internet infrastructure.

5G will be there, when and where it makes economic sense. So will WiFi 6, but that is another story.