US President Donald Trump today urged wireless carriers to deploy 5G and “6G” networks “as soon as possible,” seemingly ignoring the small problem that 6G technology is not yet available.
“I want 5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible,” Trump wrote on Twitter this morning “It’s much stronger, faster, and smarter than the current standard. American companies must step up their efforts, or give up.”
I want 5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible. It is much stronger, faster, and smarter than the current standard. American companies must step up their efforts, or give up. There is no reason why we should go back………
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2019
In a second tweetTrump said 5G and 6G are “obviously the future.”
Trump also wrote that he wants the US to “win through competition, not by blocking existing advanced technologies.”
“We must always be leaders in everything we do, especially when it comes to the exciting world of technology!” Trump finished.
5G hype is in full swing
5G is definitely coming, whether Trump tweets about it or not. But today, more 5G hype and 5G talk games than actual 5G. Verizon is offering 5G home Internet in a few cities, but for now it’s based on Verizon’s own technology instead of the global 5G NR (New Radio) standard.
AT&T has deliberately misled consumers by labeling large portions of its 4G LTE network as 5G. Smartphone users in areas where AT&T is using advanced 4G LTE technology now see a “5G E” network reference. 5G E stands for 5G Evolution, but it is, in fact, no more than 4G with LTE features such as 256 QAM, 4 × 4 MIMO, and a combination of three-way carriers.
Despite Trump’s tweet, there’s no word yet on whether AT&T is developing 6G F, a natural successor to 5G E. (“F” could stand for “faux.”) But the cable company, jealous of all the 5G wireless hype, took the trademark for “10G” to fuel a new marketing campaign. The cable company’s 10G doesn’t refer to the 10th generation of anything, as it’s shorthand for the 10Gbps speeds expected in future upgrades. Cable lobby group NCTA continues its “10G” push today at a Press release issued hours after Trump’s tweet. The press release is titled, “Why do we need 10G?”
Trump’s tweet won’t have much impact
Trump’s call for speedy 5G deployment is unlikely to make any real difference, as automakers are already deep into 5G planning and are starting to deploy networks in some cities. His call for 6G is also unlikely to make a real difference, as each new generation of wireless takes years to deploy, and the 6G system is in its embryonic stages at best.
“The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations body that helps coordinate global telecommunication issues, currently has a working group studying what a 6G world could look like.” The Washington Post noticed today. “But the name of the group – Network 2030 – suggests that there is a big task ahead.”
6G simply hasn’t been defined yet, said Network 2030 Chairman and Huawei scientist Richard Li. IEEE Spectrum in August 2018.
A UC Santa Barbara team is researching new technologies that it says could one day become possible the basis for 6G. Qualcomm tell it is “thinking” about 6G in 2017, but the actual capabilities and timing of 6G are still in the observation phase.
“We’ll have to wait at least 10 years before we see the first 6G specifications approved,” IoT Times written in June 2018.
The FCC is using 5G to justify the slowdown
5G isn’t available for smartphones in the US, but at least there’s a real 5G specification for the industry to follow. Despite its “5G E” misdirection, AT&T has deployed standards-based 5G in parts of 12 cities and is offering a 5G cell park. Verizon today tell it is rolling out 5G to more than 30 cities this year, but Verizon’s announcement did not say when the company is transitioning from its own 5G technology to the global standard or when 5G phones will be available.
The Federal Communications Commission has taken advantage of the 5G hype to justify regulatory reforms. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in September 2018 led a vote to prevent city and state governments from charging wireless carriers about $2 billion in costs related to the deployment of wireless equipment such as small cells. The FCC order also limits the types of regulatory requirements cities and towns can impose on carrier operations.
The $2 billion, spread over 10 years, is less than 1 percent of the estimated costs of deploying 5G small cells across the US. So it’s no surprise that Verizon says the savings won’t make it faster in 5G deployment. Verizon is already moving 5G as fast as it can, the carrier said.
Despite that, Pai and fellow Republican FCC commissioners say a waiver is needed to push the US from 4G to 5G. If Trump’s tweets today have any effect, it may be to give the FCC more incentive to waive regulations under the guise of the adoption of 5G technology that it has already adopted anyway.