Believe it or not, even though we’ve been waiting for 5G, it’s still not ready for prime time. They are still making improvements. The worst news, however, is that to take advantage of the upcoming 5G C-band networks, we’ll need new phones.
5G C-band networks
The results obtained so far in 5G tests show that it does not meet its expectations. Tests show that it’s not much better than existing 4G networks.
However, faster networks, 5G C-band networks, are expected to be auctioned in December with the intention of being ready for use by the end of 2021. It uses 280 MHz of mid-band spectrum between 3.7 and 4 GHz. This places it below the common 5 GHz Wi-Fi band.
However, existing phones will not be able to benefit from upgrades to make them usable with C-Band 5G networks, according to T-Mobile technology president Neville Ray. In a conversation with PCMag, he says, C-Band will require new phones as well as new infrastructure.
Ray should know. T-Mobile currently has the only viable cache of the 2.5GHz midband 5G spectrum. Like others, T-Mobile’s 5G was no better than 4G when it was tested in July. Still, it mostly used 40 MHz of that spectrum for 5G. But Ray said by the end of this year it will hit 80 MHz.
Of course, that leaves phone makers salivating. Everyone wants 5G, but they want super-fast 5G. And to get it, they’ll need a new handset.
Mobile services competition
Of course, that already puts T-Mobile at a huge advantage even without 5G in C-band, but it still wants to use C-band, so its subscribers will have to buy new phones as well.
Everyone wants a piece of this spectrum. The number of waves available from each carrier and the frequency at which it will reach determine the services it can offer.
Operators need 50 MHz or more for 5G to be fast enough. On AT&T and T-Mobile’s low-band networks, they only use 5-15 MHz blocks. T-Mobile’s mid-band network is 40 to 80 MHz. Verizon’s broadband network is 400-800 MHz, but it doesn’t get good range.
If the three major carriers share 280 MHz of 5G C-band, they will all have great potential. But they’re not the only ones who want a piece of it. Media companies with satellite dishes and cables want it too. Meanwhile, the three major networks will continue to fight to ensure that the auction is designed for their needs.
So keep all of this in mind when making phone buying decisions as well as mobile service decisions.
For example, I’m counting the days until iPhone 12 is released. My iPhone 7’s battery is about kaput. And while the 12 is expected to be 5G ready, I guess they won’t be 5G C-band ready. I’m an AT&T customer anyway, and they’re late. with 5G service, so I won’t receive C-band from my carrier or phone.
Read on if you want to know when 5G will be available in your area.
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