5G Phones Will Be Here Long Before 5G Streaming is Available

Content Insider #606 – Beautiful Dreams

By Miles Weston

“People love what other people are passionate about.” – Mia, “La La Land,” Summit Entertainment, 2016

It’s hard to believe, but it was almost 25 years ago the big news at CES was HD TV sets.  Nearly everyone was showing Kevin Costner in Waterworld and attendees marveled at the beauty and clarity of every ripple in the water.

This year, it was big (huge, even) fantastic 4K HDR TVs with just enough 8K sets thrown in to make things interesting…for tomorrow.

But at this year’s CES, it seemed to be all about Qualcomm’s December unveiling of their Snapdragon 855, the first commercial 5G mobile platform that will enable commercial 5G networks to usher in a Decade of Multi-Gigabit 5G Connectivity.”

They’re right…it could take a decade.

After the HD TV CES announcements, we visited a number of friends’ homes after the bowl game as they bragged about their big, new, beautiful HD sets.

We asked them if they were getting HD quality and how they liked it. 

Six out of 10 turned their sets on and pointed to the text on the screen “HD ready” and were happy.

The problem was they neglected to buy the HD tuner, so they were getting the same old stuff.  But it wasn’t long before “Full HD” sets were available.  Over time, they got bigger and better and better.

Folks upgraded again…and again…and

So, did studios, stations, production/distribution organizations around the globe.

To put it in M&E terms, it focused on the two key budget issues – time, money.

So will 5G!

We get it, honest. 

It’s all about you but a lot of heavy lifting, heavy investing has to be done before you BAM! get your beautiful content on your screen whenever, wherever.

You want it…you need it…you deserve it! 

Well, you may get blistering 5G service in your neighborhood mid-next year; but if you go to the desert, the mountains, across the county line, another country. Probably not!

“People love what other people are passionate about.” – Mia, “La La Land,” Summit Entertainment, 2016

The world just doesn’t have ubiquitous high-speed connectivity.

Your Speed May Vary – The communications industry will have to make extensive investments in infrastructure upgrades before reliable, uninterrupted 5G streaming, autonomous transportation and smart cities will be available. 

Slightly more than 51 percent of the people on the planet have internet connectivity and many areas have only 56Kbps (dial-up).  Many countries have little to no cellphone service, let alone 4G/LTE service. Twelve countries have only sparse cellphone service.

In the U.S., the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) estimates 162.9M people don’t use broadband internet and that it isn’t even available to 24.7M folks.

Microsoft wants to address these basic needs with stuff they call “super Wi-Fi,” a mix of new/old technology.

But still, 5G is coming…to some of us… sometime soon.

Build Up, Build Out – U.S., Chinese and E.U. telecommunications services will begin testing and promoting high-speed 5G wireless services, but it will be at least 2024 before reliable service will be the new norm in many areas. 

Okay, it’s evolving; but we need it to fulfill some folks’ visions of tomorrow – more bandwidth, lower latency and richer/more responsive mobile apps/service.

Without it, the internet of things, smart cities, smart cars, smart homes, brilliant streaming video to your smartphone and data everywhere for everything are only hyperbole marketing folks pitch to us to buy their latest upgrade.

Critical Resource – While telcos are promoting their 5G performance and smartphone manufacturers are rushing to deliver new devices for consumers, it will be the more “routine” applications – healthcare, smart cities, smart homes, transportation – that will need fast, reliable service.

5G is necessary since companies/countries are figuring out how to connect more things and most carriers need to get there or they’ll run out of capacity to keep up with data demands.

Cisco projects IP traffic will increase 3X over the next five years, surpassing 4.8ZB or 396EB per month.  

Traffic Growth – Smartphone sales have grown rapidly to the point that today, there are more devices than people on the planet.  Even with the growth, voice traffic remains low as data consumes most of the bandwidth traffic capacity. 

According to Ericsson, smartphone data will increase 10X to more than 65EB per month.

Cisco projects that 80 percent of that data will be video.

We have a plan on how to handle all that stuff…sure we do.

Keeping Pace – There is a tremendous amount of work and the integration of multiple technologies that must be done behind the scene before service providers can deliver fast, reliable 5G service so you can stream your content the way you want to, expect to enjoy it.  That takes time. 

Of course, it costs money – lots of money – to make the dream a reality.

IDC says infrastructure investments will rise to about $26B by 2022, or a total of $40B. 

McKinsey reasons that the costs will be more, lots more (http://tinyurl.com/y9lcluwu) and could easily increase as much as 300 percent by 2022.

Bloomberg estimates it will cost mobile-phone companies, chipmakers, device manufacturers and software developers about $200B a year in research and capital spending while GSMA revenue will grow only 2.5 percent per year from 2020-2025.

Wonder who’s going to fund the expansion? 

Financial Pinch – While infrastructure investment may be in ‘the same ballpark’ around the globe, the cost of service will vary widely in every country; depending upon government subsidies, regulations and shareholder returns. 


Come on folks! Telcos aren’t charities!

We understand all the hype (smoke ‘n mirrors) behind 5G smartphones.

Device sales are on their behinds and a new app or another camera lens isn’t going to convince folks to upgrade.

Good Enough – Service providers and smartphone manufacturers are rushing to promote the features and benefits of 5G wireless service, highlighting test performance across the country and around the globe because consumers need more reasons beyond an added camera, lens to the edge and new user interface to buy new smartphones. 

But give my kid the vision of streaming her beautiful 4K content next to a 5G mobile hot spot at 140Mbps, and she’s there! 

So much better than her typical 20-50Mbps streaming with all of the latency/buffering issues she screams at today.

High Expectations – People have high expectations for the new 5G phones and they will be rewarded, soon. 

And there will be a gazillion other people standing with her in front of her favorite Apple store to get their hands on the iPhone 2020 with 1TB of storage and a brilliant (fragile) 1080p screen (if you’re gonna dream, dream big!).

The mere fact that she will probably be operating on a 4G LTE network most of the time won’t matter to her (or you) because for a long time to come, there will only be a few 5G sites.

Sure, you’ll be paying more for the same old service; but if the content streams, you really won’t care.

Camouflage – To deliver fast, reliable 5G service, telcos will be installing small cells across the country and around the globe.  The units will have to be installed ‘rather closely together’ to deliver reliable performance.  Service providers will be creatively hiding the cells as often as possible, so they blend into the environment. 

Yes, we’re glad you made the hefty purchase and service contract because we have a lot of friends who want you to view their creative efforts. 

But in the meantime, the telcos have to put up their small towers around the country and around the globe in ways you can use them but not really see them.

There will be tons of them going up, since for best performance, they should be no more than 500 meters apart and yes, Ericsson likes that little fact.

It’s not as glamorous as a new 5G phone and streaming service, but we’d rather see the infrastructure companies and service providers focus first on the IoT applications – the way businesses, industries will do business.

Turn the focus on getting a fast, ultra-reliable 5G network that people can absolutely rely on while they’re being driven around in their autonomous vehicle.

We’ve already seen a dude overindulge, get behind the wheel of his Tesla and have it drive him home while he was sleeping it off (https://tinyurl.com/yb32stms).

He’s not the first, won’t be the last.

In fact, give folks 5G smartphones and surprise; they’ll drive happily down the road watching a bunch of Jeff Katzenberg’s short videos, Logan Paul suicide forest or lion cub videos, Oscar winner Roma, or catch up on the 5 p.m. local news.

After all, you’re paying a hefty price for your 5G mobile plan, so enjoy it and the commute.

Nice, but we’d prefer the industry focus on making self-driving vehicles a reality.

As Carnegie Mellon’s Raj Rajkumar pointed out, about 1.3 million people die every year in automotive accidents globally; traffic delays are expensive; senior citizens and the disabled lose their independence and self-esteem when they lose their ability to drive; and car ownership is not cost-effective for many urban residents.

Help Driving – Safety experts around the globe expect traffic incidents to rise as people begin using 5G smartphones while driving.  The constant-on use is bad today and officials feel it will only get worse without autonomous transportation intervention. 

Self-driving vehicles can mitigate much of that.

The autonomous vehicle can ignore your distractions; reduce accidents, injuries and deaths as well as maybe reduce your insurance costs. 

Sure, it’s going to take a while before it’s absolutely reliable. Even then, accidents will happen – but if we can reduce injuries/deaths just a little while letting you enjoy your entertainment, it’s a better deal.

Instead of moving to a 5G phone with the promise of 1ms latency (50X faster than 4G nets), we’ll upgrade when the phone producers deliver what we really want/need.

You know, longer battery life, ease of use, more storage capacity, durability.

Sure, things like AR/VR tools, parental controls, facial recognition, digital wellness tools would be nice, but the features listed above are what really count.

Still want to enjoy brilliant 4K content?  Ask your content owners to get together with the people at Mo-DV that we ran into at CES.  Their Mo2Go solution lets you have hours of reliable movie/TV entertainment you honestly can enjoy anytime, anyplace and without fear of malware coming from some weird downloading site.

Manufacturers/service providers want to convince us to upgrade before the phone dies or becomes totally obsolete. But investing $1,000 every year for bragging rights is a little ridiculous–especially when it sorta’, kinda’ looks/performs like last year’s device.

Nope, mama won’t let us play that game.

So, we guess we’ll just have to wait a few years until we upgrade to a 5G smartphone.

Between now and then, we’ll shuffle our feet with Sebastian who said, “I’m letting life hit me until it gets tired. Then I’ll hit back. It’s a classic rope-a-dope.”

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