back to article Work continues on 5G, shame no one's sure what it's for yet

5G is – surprise, surprise – dominating this year's Mobile World Congress as more emphasis is heaped on how non-telco vertical sectors can use the fledgling technology. Unlike 4G or any previous cellular generation, 5G aims to cover a wider set of use cases from the outset: not only enhanced mobile broadband, but also massive …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Coat

    "fail fast and fail safe"

    It seems that failing is good now, fashionable even. Certainly relieves the headache of actually planning something, doesn't it ? Go for 80%, bang it out, see what breaks. That's the second article in a few days that I read that mentions those exact words, so apparently the suits deem that it is a proper approach to developing a product.

    Somebody phone Her Majesty's Government, we now know what they've been doing wrong with their IT projects all these years : they've been failing slow and hard. Need to pick up the pace.

  2. Commswonk Silver badge

    ...no one's sure what it's for yet.

    Is that not better known as a solution in search of a problem?

    If nothing else it provides a wonderful opportunity for "suits" to gather together in nice locations and spout management bollocks at one another.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: ...no one's sure what it's for yet.

      putting up prices without affecting the RPI?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Members now include companies like Bosch, Continental Automotive, John Deere, Korean Register of Shipping, Legrand, Toyota and Volvo."

    For almost all of them, I see the point of being in this body, but John Deere ???? In my country, France, where you see a tractor, you're sure as heck to have no 3G whatsof*ckingever ! Certainly not around my place where I see John Deere routinely, or anywhere else.

    Reason is simple: you need to have sufficient dense population for any Telco to put up a 3G antenna at any given place. Guess what, when you have big farmers' fields, you have very low population density and a surprising absence of said antennae.

    You're happy to have voice/SMS in farmers' place. 5G ? not in anyone's dreams. I'd assume other countries would be similar.

    1. ExampleOne

      John Deere have a lot invested in self-steering tractors, telemetry collecting, local soil analytics...

      If there is an industry with an obvious interest in WWAN I would have thought agriculture is it. Possibly less so in Europe, but certainly in the larger commercial farms in the US.

    2. IGnatius T Foobar

      Tractors

      I see the point of being in this body, but John Deere ???? In my country, France, where you see a tractor, you're sure as heck to have no 3G whatsof*ckingever !

      All the world is not France. Here in the US we have very good coverage in rural areas. John Deere uses the network to remotely disable tractors with modified firmware, to make sure the farmers aren't getting their tractors serviced by third parties.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      5G /= mmWave

      Assume away if that floats your boat. In the UK most rural sites are on farmers land, and we are heading over 90% land-mass towards 95% landmass coverage. 5G will be deployed in 700MHz from 2020 which is the lowest, longest range spectrum available.

      Farmers are increasingly using IoT to check temperatures, grain moisture content, GPS-assisted sowing/fertilising etc. All this creates data to be analysed, and another thing that 5G will add is edge processing - moving the data-centre out to the base-station - where there is demand.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 5G /= mmWave

        Farmers are increasingly using IoT to check temperatures, grain moisture content, GPS-assisted sowing/fertilising etc. All this creates data to be analysed

        And I am sure John Deere (and many others) are looking forward to selling the farmer a base unit to not only remotely control farm equipment but to manage the sensors and analyse the data. That may mean that they don't need mobile network coverage: the base unit can use fixed broadband or even satellite and there are several technologies currently competing to provide relatively short distance (a few km), low bandwidth (and low power) comms using unlicensed spectrum.

        So, of course, the operators have encouraged John Deere to join their club to be convinced that the only true way to do that is to use 5G provided by big operators, using licensed spectrum. Sorry, I mean to provide input on the requirements for their vertical.

    4. Tom 64
      Gimp

      RE: " I'd assume other countries would be similar."

      Quite. In England the telcos take the following attitude:

      "Aww, you have a signal black hole in your area? Fuck you, pay me."

      Even when complaining about sufficiently populated areas, such as a tube train, let alone the countryside.

    5. bobajob12

      Voice is not the intent here. BigAg is interested because in reality US farming is heavily automated: that combine harvester you see in Iowa is not just a tractor with a blade, it's a million-dollar robot with a boatload of sensors. Imagine being able to get all that data back to buyers straight off the field. There are people in the commodities exchanges in Chicago and London who would pay a pretty penny to know what the soybean harvest was looking like this month.

      So, BigAg = large scale IoT, with lots of low-bandwidth data feeds. If you can get good spectrum in lower frequencies, coverage is not a problem: farmland tends to be flat, and it's surprisingly well-connected in terms of power and infrastructure. Radio on poles, sensors in the Deere, you are good to go.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    no one's sure what it's for yet.

    Cat videos and porn I expect.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    shame no one's sure what it's for yet

    well, as long there's FASTER access to porn, humanity will, er, embrace the technology like, er...

  6. Mage Silver badge
    Flame

    5G aims to cover a wider set of use cases from the outset.

    This is nonsense. Very many things can use 2G/GSM, 3G and now more often 4G/LTE. Small low power embedded modems have existed for years. Despite what Apple claims, the SIM size isn't a problem either.

    The issue has always been about COVERAGE, due to lack of proper universal coverage regulation. The 5G makes no difference to ability to include a modem and it will make almost no difference to coverage. That's only increased by regulation. It's about capex vs revenue. Adding more coverage or increasing base density (smallest cells give up to x10 speed) adds very few extra subscribers. Existing ones won't pay the 4x more needed to give same profits.

    1. Blotto Bronze badge

      Re: 5G aims to cover a wider set of use cases from the outset.

      5G affords modems to be always on and consume less power, so can either do good range at comparable low bandwidth, vice versa or great endurance.

      Its funny how many people in technology don't want to move forward & 5G is not moving forward for the sake of moving forward, it'll be a true game changer.

      1. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: 5G aims to cover a wider set of use cases from the outset.

        "Its funny how many people in technology don't want to move forward & 5G is not moving forward for the sake of moving forward, it'll be a true game changer."

        It's not a question of not wanting technology to move forward. Rather, it's the exact opposite - people complaining about 5G generally want technology to move forwards, but what we're getting instead is a meaningless wishlist full of buzzwords. Whatever ends up with the label 5G may well be a big deal, although it's unlikely to be any more game changing than 3G and the thing that ended up with the 4G label were; the latter being a good example of exactly what happens when you start with a vague wishlist instead of a clearly defined and achievable standard - we still don't have anything that meets the original 4G spec.

        The problem is that 5G is currently a label waiting to be attached to something, but all too many people keep talking about it as if it's a finished standard that will be on consumers' hands within a year or two. It will apparently be low power, low latency, high bandwidth, distributed, femtocell, AI-driven, machine learning, blockchain, unicorn, rhubarb, rhubarb... but there's deathly silence whenever anyone asks what it actually is, how it works, and how it will be used. Because those questions all use the present tense, and presently it's just a list of things that would be nice to have with little to no idea how it will be actually achieved in practice. We'd love technology to move forwards, but that requires more than a game of buzzword bingo.

  7. Simon Harris Silver badge

    "EE is delivering the UK's Emergency Services Network"

    Quite possibly the scariest thing I've read today.

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