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A difficult question that even Apple cannot answer: Do people on earth really want 5G?

Time: 2020-10-21

There is an important difference between iPhone 12 and previous versions. It supports 5G. Cook applauded 5G at the press conference, it seems that 5G will change everything. In fact, Samsung had already launched 5G mobile phones 18 months ago, and Apple was late. But do global users really expect 5G? How do people from different countries think?


The performance of 5G in countries around the world

In Saudi Arabia and South Korea, the average download speed of 5G is over 300Mbps, which is indeed much faster than 4G. In the United States, the average download speed of 5G is about 52Mbps, less than twice that of 4G. At the iPhone conference, Verizon advertised ultra-high-speed millimeter wave services, and it claimed that the average download speed could reach 500Mbps.


However, IDC mobile device researcher Marta Pinto believes that Apple's main reason for launching 5G mobile phones is to have stronger competitiveness in the Chinese market. He said: "This is very important because other manufacturers already have 5G equipment. China is too important to be lost. There is Huawei and Xiaomi. Compared to Apple, Samsung has a small share in China."


South Korea has always been at the forefront of mobile entrepreneurship. 5G mobile phones were already commercially available in South Korea in April last year. Professor Jasper Kim travels between Seoul and California. He believes that Koreans are embracing 5G. Jasper Kim said: "If you ask what's new in 5G, it's faster. If other people use 5G, you will follow suit. I think 5G is a new technology that can entice people to follow suit."


In Jasper Kim's view, the online shopping experience is better and mobile video watching is smoother. These are the two main advantages of 5G today. Jasper Kim said: "95.5% of South Koreans use their mobile phones to watch videos. Although they can watch videos without 5G, it will be faster to download movies and concerts afterwards."


Ghanaians seem to be less interested in 5G. Kenneth Adu-Amanfoh, a member of the African Network Security and Digital Rights Organization, said that of the 4 mobile operators in Ghana, only 2 of them have switched to 4G. The slow development of mobile technology in Africa is due to two main reasons: one is the high cost of spectrum, and the other is over-regulation, which is a common problem in many African countries.


Kenneth Adu-Amanfoh also said: “In Africa, most regulators only think about how to squeeze more revenue from operators. Reforming policies and amending regulations to promote 4G development is not their biggest concern.”


So far, only Vodacom and MTN in sub-Saharan Africa have launched 5G services in South Africa. Other regions in Africa are still in the trial phase, including Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda. According to GSMA’s forecast, Africa’s mobile connections will reach 1.05 billion by 2025, of which 58% will be 3G. For operators and stakeholders, the short-term focus is to promote 4G. Today 4G only accounts for 4% of mobile connections in Africa, and it will increase to 27% by 2025.

Is 5G being touted too much?

Not everyone thinks that we should promote 5G quickly. Wireless technology expert William Webb claims that 5G is too much touted. Why do consumers need 5G? The telecommunications industry has not given a good proof. William Webb said: "Look at the most talked about applications, such as VR. These applications can run through indoor Wi-Fi. Indoor Wi-Fi is fast and has low latency. In fact, it is better than mobile networks, and is better than most of the 5G. Everything is good."


Some people say that the most important role of 5G is to connect “things” to the Internet, not “people”. William Webb believes that the Internet of Things has not fulfilled its original promise. In 2010, it was predicted that 50 billion devices would connect to the Internet, but today there are actually only 10 billion. Nevertheless, technology has arrived, whether you want it or not, it has already arrived. William Webb said: "5G is a bit like 4K TV. Even if you don't want it, the technology will spread. Today you buy a TV and it is basically 4K."


Thomas Spencer, head of telecommunications at the software company R3, believes that the financial and ecological costs of building 5G are huge. He said: “In the development of 5G, mobile network operators are facing challenges. According to estimates, if you want to Upgrading the network infrastructure to 5G requires investment of up to US$1 trillion. "How to build small base stations is a difficult problem. Next year, the United States will have about 400,000 small base stations, spread across public infrastructure, restaurants, offices, and residences. Spencer said: "It is a headache to determine who owns these base stations, who operates them, and who provides funds."


Richard Carwana, a British executive at Dell Technologies, has a similar view. He said: "We are still thinking about how to promote 5G. In the past, everyone expected a big explosion in 5G, but this was not the case. The introduction of 5G by services and operators is gradually Proceeding. If you want to advance and promote quickly, cooperation may be the key."


Robert Pocknell, a partner at Keystone Law in the United Kingdom, said that the British government knows that banning Huawei will slow down the promotion of 5G in the country for at least 2 years. Some patents are crucial when promoting 5G. Huawei is ranked first in terms of important patents. leader. So far, although most UK operators have launched 5G services, fewer than 100 towns and cities in the UK are covered by 5G.


China's 5G development speed is relatively fast in the world, but due to the relatively small number of users, operators will automatically switch 5G base stations into sleep mode from 9pm to 9am. Wang Xiaochu, chairman of China Unicom, said that turning off the base station is not done manually, but is automatically adjusted at a specific time.



5G uses high-frequency signals, about 2-3 times higher than the existing 4G radio frequency, and the signal coverage is limited. Since the signal coverage radius of each base station is only 100-300 meters, a base station must be built every 200-300 meters in urban areas. In addition, the penetration of 5G signals is relatively weak. If the base station is placed indoors for office buildings, residential areas, and commercial areas, the density must be higher.


According to reports, if China wants 5G coverage to reach the current 4G level, operators will have to install 10 million base stations. If the coverage rate of 5G reaches the level of 4G, China's electricity bill for base stations alone will cost 29 billion US dollars a year.


Soumya Sen, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota in the United States, said: “Due to technological limitations, the energy consumption of 5G base station equipment is about three times higher than that of 4G. 5G uses multiple antennas to capture reflected signals from tall buildings, so that the channel will be more robust and throughput will be greater.”


All these add up to become a big expense. The wool is on the sheep, is the sheep willing? Who is 5G for? It seems that it will take some time to find the answer.