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Home / Tips and Tricks / 5G decoded: Here you can read how to distinguish genuine 5G from the marketing fluff

5G decoded: Here you can read how to distinguish genuine 5G from the marketing fluff



  5G explained

5G is here, it's time to understand. CNET

It may have taken a while, but a national 5G network is coming. On December 6, T-Mobile will deploy its wider 5G service and say it will reach 200 million people with the new, faster wireless network.

T-Mobile is not only the newest to expand its 5G footprint, but also the first to offer service that covers so many Americans at higher speeds. The next generation networks of all major airlines will expand over the coming months and lay the foundation for progress such as replacing broadband at home, remote surgery and self-driving cars that are expected to dominate over the next decade.

But with all those activities of competing airlines, there are countless different names for 5G – some of which are not really 5G.

The providers have a history of twisting their stories when it comes to wireless technology. When 4G just came around, AT&T and T-Mobile chose to rebrand their 3G networks to take advantage of the hype. Eventually the industry settled on 4G LTE. One technology, one name. However, different technologies and approaches for presenting 5G have made this coming revolution confusing than it should be. Here is a guide to understand all this.

First: Know the three flavors

When it comes to actual 5G, there are three different versions that you need to know. Although they are all accepted as 5G – and Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have agreed to use multiple flavors for more robust networks – each gives you different experiences.

The first taste is known as a millimeter wave (or mmWave). This technology has been implemented by Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile during the past year, although it is most remarkable because it is the 5G network that Verizon recommends throughout the country .

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Verizon's early 5G speeds in NYC are impressive, but still in limited locations.


Eli Blumenthal / CNET

Millimeter wave: High speed but with a disadvantage

With a much higher frequency than previous cellular networks, millimeter wave provides a blazing-fast connection that in some cases reaches well above 1 Gbps . The disadvantage? This higher frequency struggles with covering distances and penetrating buildings, glass or even leaves. It has also had some problems with heat .

In fact, these coverage areas may not be larger than an intersection, so consider it a boosted Wi-Fi hotspot. A solution is to connect more mobile radios, but in many places that is not an option.

Low band: much range, but lower speeds

Low band 5G is which T-Mobile launches on December 6 . Although faster than 4G LTE, it does not offer the same crazy speeds that higher frequency technologies such as millimeter wave can offer. However, the good news is that this network is comparable to 4G networks in terms of coverage, which means it can cover large areas with service. It should also work well indoors.

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T-Mobile plans to cover 200 million people with the launch in December, while AT&T plans to launch its own low-band 5G network on its wider spectrum in 2019 before entering the "first half of 2020 "nationwide. Verizon plans in the same way to cover half of the US next year with 5G across multiple bands .

Midband: the center of speed and coverage

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The V50 ThinQ is the first 5G phone from LG and Sprint. [19659003CN] Lyn 1921

Between the two, midband is the mid range of 5G: faster than the low band, but with more coverage than millimeter wave. This is the technology behind Sprint & # 39; s early 5G rollout and one of the main reasons why T-Mobile says it wants to buy the struggling carrier . By taking over Sprint, T-Mobile says it can offer a network with all three flavors of 5G. w

Although T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon have a low band spectrum, midband has been used by the military, making it a scarce commodity despite the mobile benefits.

But that could change quickly. A coming midband FCC auction next year the first time a significant portion of the spectrum becomes available for commercial use, is expected to attract interest at AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.

It is important to note that no spectrum band is inherently better or worse than another. The carriers hope to include all three types of spectrum for a more extensive network.

Three flavors, many different names

As you would expect in an industry that was used to cover the air waves with commercials, there are different ways in which carriers refer to the different flavors of 5G.

AT&T is the worst offender, with three flavors: 5GE, 5G and 5G Plus .

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Logan Moy / CNET

5GE, short for 5G Evolution, is not really 5G so no, your iPhone 11 ($ 660 with Amazon) Galaxy S10 or Pixel 4 showing 5GE is not & # 39; t compatible with the new network of the next generation.

The normal "5G" is now real 5G, but only on the midtones and low-band flavors. The use of "5G Plus" will be used for the millimeter golf service of the carriers.

Verizon calls his current millimeter-wave 5G network " 5G Ultra Wideband " or " 5G UWB ." Although not as complicated as AT&T's approach, it can get confused thanks to Apple's embrace of the eponymous Ultra Wideband technology in the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max . Unlike Verizon UWB, the Apple version is not related to mobile, but is a technology used to track other similarly equipped devices. It is said that Apple & # 39; s version of UWB uses the highly anticipated tracking system .

Sprint, which only offers the 5G flavor of the midband, calls its network True Mobile 5G .

T-Mobile, which will have two flavors live after the low-band network was switched on in early December, will retain one name: 5G .

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5G icon from T-Mobile.


Joshua Goldman / CNET

"Our customers see a simple 5G icon when they connect to the next-generation wireless network, regardless of which spectrum they use," said a T-Mobile spokesperson.

With the expansion of 5G expected in 2020 and beyond, I hope the new year will bring some new clarity.


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