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  1. MediaTek announces T750 chipset for 5G fixed wireless access routers Today, MediaTek is announcing its latest 5G chipset, the T750. But unlike other 5G chipsets that we've covered, this one isn't made for phones. It's designed to be used in fixed wireless access routers and mobile hotspots. In other words, this is the type of thing that you can use to get a 5G home Wi-Fi network set up. "Pervasive high-speed broadband connectivity is becoming more important with the increase in connected devices and the surge of people working from home, taking online classes and using services like tele-health and video calling," said JC Hsu, Corporate Vice President and General Manager of MediaTek’s wireless communications business unit. "We are extending our 5G leadership beyond the smartphone segment with the T750 chipset, opening up new markets for broadband operators and device makers, and helping consumers – no matter where they live – to experience all the advantages of 5G connectivity." The T750 supports sub6 5G, like all of MediaTek's current 5G products, so there's no millimeter wave support. That means that you won't be getting gigabit speeds beamed into your house, but it can still provide broadband speeds in rural areas where fiber cables aren't being installed. It also supports two-component 5G FR1 carrier aggregation in FDD and TDD modes, 5CC LTE carrier aggregation, and it has a GPU to push an HD display. There are also four PCIe interfaces, so it can connect to external Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The MediaTek T750 is currently being sampled with potential customers. MediaTek announces T750 chipset for 5G fixed wireless access routers
  2. Qualcomm is bringing 5G to everyone with cheap 5G Snapdragon chips Dirt-cheap Snapdragon 4-series chips will make nearly every phone a 5G phone. Enlarge / The Snapdragon 4 series is near the bottom of Qualcomm's lineup and is used in most cheap devices. Qualcomm 64 with 30 posters participating Qualcomm's push for 5G will soon hit some of the cheapest phones on the market. Today, the company announced 5G is coming to the Snapdragon 4-series in "early 2021." Qualcomm says the goal of these chips is to enable "5G for everyone," and the chips will show up in phones ranging from $125 to $250. The 4 series is where Qualcomm's mass-market sales really happen, and the company says it will be able to reach 3.5 billion smartphone users with these new chips. The only cheaper chips in Qualcomm's lineup are the 2 series, but those phones make up the bargain-basement $100-and-below market and are actually pretty rare. "5G" here most likely means sub-6GHz 5G, which is cheaper to implement than the faster mmWave 5G. mmWave requires several additional antennas in the phone due to its poor signal penetration. Your hand will block the signal, so the solution to that is multiple antennas that work around your hand position. Sub-6GHz 5G has much better signal characteristics and has a shot of a wide rollout. mmWave is responsible for any of the 5G speed test records you see—and all the advertisement talk of "revolutionary" connectivity—but carriers in the US have said mmWave will be limited to cities because it requires so many towers. 5G is still not something anyone should run out and buy a new phone for. The network build-out process is only just beginning, and even sub-6GHz is not available in most locations. Areas with poor 4G connectivity are most likely the result of low carrier investment in your area, and that's not something 5G (which requires even more network infrastructure) is going to fix. All Qualcomm's 4 series announcement means is that soon you won't have a choice when it comes to 5G—all phones will be 5G phones. 5G handset hardware doesn't mean the networks are ready for 5G or that you'll get a significantly better experience by buying a 5G phone. Qualcomm is bringing 5G to everyone with cheap 5G Snapdragon chips
  3. Today we’re taking a peek at the newly-revealed ZTE Axon 20 5G, otherwise known as the “world’s first under-display camera smartphone.” This device might not look particularly extraordinary at first – it’s not really meant to be particularly striking in outward appearance. Instead, it’s meant to do what any other smartphone does, without the drawback of having a space up front for a camera – be it a wide bezel, a notch, or a hole in the phone’s display. Up front the ZTE Axon 20 5G works with a 6.92-inch FDH+ (2460 x 1080 pixel) OLED display. This phone delivers under-display fingerprint reading, under-display sound, and an under-display camera. The under-display fingerprint reader isn’t all that rare at this point in history – we’ve had over a year of such tech in your everyday average smartphone from companies like Huawei and OnePlus. The under-display speaker system is a bit more novel – it’ll be interesting to experience tunes projected through glass. ZTE incorporated DTS:X Ultra 3D sound as well. The ZTE Axon 20 5G works with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor with either 6 or 8GB RAM. The former has 128GB internal storage, while the latter has 256GB internal storage. Both versions work with a microSD card reader that can hold an up-to-2TB microSD card for storage expansion. Both versions will launch with the latest version of Android, “Android Q” as ZTE puts it. This phone has a 4220mAh battery inside with Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+ (30W fast charging with the charger in the box). This device has Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, and it weighs in at approximately 198g. This device will be released in China first, and maybe China only – we’ll have to wait and see. ZTE Axon 20 5G has a price of RMB2,198 with a release date of September 1, 2020 on pre-order. It’ll be available through the official ZTE online shop. No further release details for the rest of the world were revealed at launch. source
  4. The phone will reportedly have a 6.6" display and a 5,000 mAh battery. What you need to know A recently leaked photo shows off the Moto G 5G with a Snapdragon 750G SoC. This could be one of the first phones to use Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 750G. The phone will reportedly have a 6.66-inch display, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 5,000 mAh battery. A recently leaked photo by Slashleaks has revealed the Moto G 5G, Motorola's next 5G budget phone with Qualcomm's brand-new Snapdragon 750G chipset. This could be one of the first smartphones to carry the Snapdragon 750G SoC, following the likes of Xiaomi and Samsung. According to XDA-Developers, the Motorola Moto G 5G will have a fairly competitive spec sheet, especially as a budget phone. In addition to the Snapdragon 750G processor, the phone is rumored to have a 6.66-inch display with a 2400x1800 resolution and a 60Hz refresh rate, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage, as well as a gigantic 5,000 mAh battery. The phone will also have 3 cameras on the back including a 48MP primary sensor. On the front, there's a minimal hole-punch camera, which is a 16MP sensor. Interestingly enough, the Moto G 5G will also have a Google Assistant button on the side much like LG's recent devices. However, it seems to be missing on the Verizon-variant intended for the US market. With all these specs and features in mind, the Moto G 5G seems to be a relatively fully-featured phone. Judging from the leaked photo, it seems to have reduced bezels and a more modern design compared to previous devices in the Moto G series. While it will likely miss out on wireless charging, it doesn't miss out on essentials such as NFC and microSD support. Although certain details such as the release date and price tag are currently unknown, it's good to see more budget 5G phones coming out of the woodworks. With the ongoing pandemic and economic climate, well-worth budget phones are more imperative than ever before. Source
  5. Samsung could build UK 5G if Huawei is banned Samsung says it can provide mobile operators with 5G kit (Image credit: focustech) Samsung says it could provide the kit necessary for UK operators to build 5G networks should they be banned from procuring Huawei equipment. The Korean electronics giant has a limited presence in the mobile equipment market but has big ambitions for 5G, hoping to secure 20 per cent of the market by 2020. It has seen strong demand in its native South Korea as well as from US operators who are banned from working with Huawei. Samsung executive vice president Woojune Kim told MPs on the Commons Science and Technology that it could “definitely” supply UK operators and that the firm was focusing its resources on 4G, 5G and 6G rather than legacy technologies like other vendors. Samsung 5G kit In January, the UK confirmed that Huawei could play a role in the rollout of 5G. The new rules effectively preserved the status quo by banning Huawei kit from the core layer of the network but permitting the use of the firm’s radio gear, subject to a 35 per cent cap. However there is growing speculation that this decision could be reversed and operators would be forced to remove Huawei equipment from their infrastructure. Such a move would be highly disruptive. Operators argue it would cause delays to the rollout of 5G, increase costs and lower innovation – ultimately harming consumers and businesses and the UK’s post-coronavirus, post-Brexit economy. In any case, there are doubts over Ericsson and Huawei’s ability to make up the shortfall. Both the US and UK governments have identified Samsung as a way of diversifying the pool of suppliers in the Radio Access Network (RAN) market. Reports have also suggested that Britain is eager for NEC to get involved. NEC is a key supplier of Radio Access Network (RAN) technology for operators in Japan but has a limited presence outside of its homeland. Samsung could build UK 5G if Huawei is banned
  6. Qualcomm launches new Snapdragon 690 processor to add 5G to budget phones Along with support for 4K HDR video and 120Hz displays Qualcomm is launching its next 5G chipset today, the Snapdragon 690, the first product in its 6-series chips to get support for the next-generation networking standard — although it’ll only support the slower sub-6GHz versions of 5G, not the faster mmWave standard. The new Snapdragon 690 also promises a variety of other improvements over the previous 6-series chips. Qualcomm says it’ll offer 20 percent better CPU performance and 60 percent faster graphics rendering compared to the Snapdragon 675. But the addition of 5G support — by way of a new Snapdragon X51 modem — is particularly important for the broader adoption of 5G, given that the company’s 6-series chips tend to show up in midrange and budget phones, like those from HMD’s Nokia, Motorola, and LG. (The recently released Moto G Fast and Moto E, for example, use Snapdragon 632 and Snapdragon 665 chipsets, and they cost $199 and $149, respectively.) Previously, 5G was limited to just Qualcomm’s top-tier 8-series chips (like the flagship Snapdragon 865) and the semi-premium Snapdragon 765 and 768G. And while it’ll still take time for phone makers to start using the Snapdragon 690 (and, presumably, even longer before you can buy a 5G phone that costs in the $150 to $200 range), it’s an exciting development that should help the technology reach more customers than just those who are buying the most expensive phones. In addition to 5G, there are a few other high-end features that are trickling down to the 6-series for the first time. The Snapdragon 690 will support 120Hz displays for faster refresh rates, along with 4K HDR video capture (both a first for the 6-series). The Snapdragon 690 will also enable up to 192-megapixel cameras on midtier devices. Expect to see the first 5G phones powered by a Snapdragon 690 in Q2 2020, with HMD, LG, Motorola, Sharp, and TCL among the companies that are planning to release devices with the new chipset. Qualcomm launches new Snapdragon 690 processor to add 5G to budget phones
  7. T-Mobile has announced its first 5G hotspot, one that can be activated on multiple standalone plans offering up to 100GB of data per month. There are some big advantages to the 5G hotspot over the 4G LTE alternatives, including support for a huge number of devices connected simultaneously and lower prices with higher data caps. The new T-Mobile 5G MiFi M2000 hotspot supports both Extended Range and Ultra Capacity 5G network connectivity, as well as 4G LTE when in places where 5G isn’t yet available. In addition to the support for connecting up to 30 devices, T-Mobile says the hotspot device features ‘enterprise-grade security’ and a built-in battery that can go a full day without charging. The hotspot is priced at a hefty $336 USD, but T-Mobile is currently offering it at $168 USD for customers who add a line (the discount comes in the form of bill credits over 24 months). There’s also a device payment option at $7/month (discounted rate) or $14/month (full rate). T-Mobile will soon offer multiple standalone 5G plans starting at 5GB for $20/month, 10GB for $30/month, 30GB for $40/month, and 100GB for $50/month as a limited-time promotion. T-Mobile takes the time to boast that its rates drastically undercut competitor Verizon. There’s an obvious benefit to having a 5G hotspot, particularly for families that aren’t able to get traditional high-speed broadband in their home. T-Mobile’s Ultra Capacity 5G network offers download speeds that hang around 300Mbps and can peak at up to 1Gbps, according to the carrier, offering a better experience than older, slower standalone hotspots. Source
  8. Karlston

    The WIRED Guide to 5G

    The WIRED Guide to 5G Here's everything you'll ever want to know about the spectrum, millimeter-wave technology, and why 5G could give China an edge in the AI race. The future depends on connectivity. From artificial intelligence and self-driving cars to telemedicine and mixed reality to as yet undreamt technologies, all the things we hope will make our lives easier, safer, and healthier will require high-speed, always-on internet connections. To keep up with the explosion of new connected gadgets and vehicles, not to mention the deluge of streaming video, the mobile industry has introduced something called 5G—so named because it's the fifth generation of wireless networking technology. The promise is that 5G will bring speeds of around 10 gigabits per second to your phone. That's more than 600 times faster than the typical 4G speeds on today’s mobile phones, and 10 times faster than Google Fiber's standard home broadband service—fast enough to download a 4K high-definition movie in 25 seconds, or to stream several at the same time. Eventually anyway. While US carriers have introduced 5G networks in dozens of cities, the first ones aren’t nearly that fast. At first many carriers began rolling out 5G by building atop their 4G or LTE networks, which produced lots of connectivity, but not at the speeds most associated with 5G. Gradually, the major American telecom carriers have introduced standalone versions of their networks, meaning they don’t piggyback on existing infrastructure. T-M0bile’s offering covers 1.3 million square miles, or 34 percent of the US. When T-Mobile acquired Sprint earlier this year, it picked up a substantial amount of wireless spectrum, which is now part of T-Mobile’s network. Dish Network acquired some of Sprint’s wireless assets as a condition of the merger, and the satellite company is now developing its own cellular service. Early in its 5G efforts, AT&T marketed a network it described as 5G E, but experts called it a spiffed-up version of the company’s current LTE network, and the National Advertising Review Board eventually recommended the company stop using that terminology, saying it was misleading consumers. The company says its 5G network reaches 205 million people and offers speeds that are similar to or faster than its LTE offering. In July 2020, AT&T announced that its 5G+ service, which runs in the faster millimeter wave spectrum (more on that shortly), is available in parts of 35 cities. Like AT&T, Verizon is using mmWave, the fastest part of 5G spectrum, for its network, which means customers can expect fast speeds but, so far, less broad coverage. The company says its 5G Ultrawide offering is available in 36 cities. Why are the availability and speeds so variable? It’s because 5G service is offered in three different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. Low-band, which operates below 1 Ghz , can reach speeds of 250 mbps. The trade-off for low-band’s comparatively slower speeds is a broad reach, which means carriers can leave more distance between towers using this kind of equipment. Analysts call the mid-band of the 5G spectrum the sweet spot, as it has a broad geographic reach and is faster than low-band. Mid-band operates between 1 and 6 GHz and can achieve speeds up to 1 Gbps. AT&T and T-Mobile’s wide-reaching 5G networks operate in the mid-band. To reach the top speeds associated with 5G, carriers need millimeter-wave (or mmWave) technology, which takes advantage of the very high end of the wireless spectrum. mmWave could enable those 10-Gbps speeds, but it comes with a trade-off: Millimeter-wave signals are less reliable over long distances and are easily disrupted by obstacles like trees, people, and even rain. To make it practical for mobile use, carriers need to deploy huge numbers of small access points in cities, instead of relying on a few big cell towers as they do today. Of course, for mobile users to take advantage of these new 5G networks, they’ll need new devices. Most major phone makers either offer 5G handsets now or expect to by the end of 2020. Samsung, LG, and Motorola sell 5G-compatible phones; Google is working on a 5G version of the Pixel, and a 5G-compatible iPhone is expected before the end of this year. To date about 4.6 million 5G-compatible phones have been sold, according to the consultancy M Science; that means fewer than 2 percent of Americans with cell phones can take advantage of 5G. The Race for 5G Dominance The US has been keen to claim a leadership role in worldwide 5G deployment, but so far it hasn’t fully succeeded. China-based Huawei is the world’s leading maker of 5G network equipment, and while its equipment is deployed widely, the company has faced scrutiny from western nations for its alleged ties to the Chinese government. The Trump administration is intent on keeping Huawei technology out of American networks, and earlier this year the US Department of Justice accused the company of conspiring to steal American trade secrets. Another fear has been that if China is first to 5G, its burgeoning tech industry will create the next global mobile platform; 5G could also give China an edge in the AI race. More devices connected to networks would mean more data. More data with which to train algorithms could mean better AI applications. The US government has also said Huawei can’t use American-built technology in its networking chips. The UK, Australia, India, Japan, and Taiwan are among the countries that have banned Huawei equipment from their networks. The bans stand to benefit companies like Nokia, Ericsson, and Samsung—notably, none of them headquartered in the US—which also make 5G equipment. As the US struggles to lead on the network side, it’s also behind in 5G from a speed perspective. A recent report from the UK-based research firm Opensignal analyzed the speeds that users typically get and found that Saudi Arabia had the fastest 5G download, topping out at 144.5 Mbps, with Canada ranking second at 90.4 Mbps. (The consultancy didn’t include China in its analysis.) South Korea has the highest rate of 5G adoption, with 10 percent of users on 5G, and its networks ranked third; the US, with an average speed of 33.4 Mbps, ranked 11th. Users are connected to 5G 20 percent of the time or more in only four countries, Opensignal found; the US, where users connected to 5G 19.3 percent of the time, ranked fifth. “The US is much higher ranked on 5G availability than on average download speed because the low-band spectrum is ideally suited to enable great 5G reach and allow users to spend more time connected than in countries with higher frequency 5G spectrum,” Opensignal wrote. In recent tests both Opensignal and PC Magazine found in tests that Verizon offered the fastest 5G speeds among American cell phone carriers. The top download speeds the surveys found varied considerably (an average of 494.7 Mbps from Opensignal and 105.1 Mbps from PC Magazine), but the results suggest that exponentially faster cellular networks aren’t just on the horizon; they’re here. How We Got From 1G to 5G The first generation of mobile wireless networks, built in the late 1970s and 1980s, was analog. Voices were carried over radio waves unencrypted, and anyone could listen in on conversations using off-the-shelf components. The second generation, built in the 1990s, was digital—which made it possible to encrypt calls, make more efficient use of the wireless spectrum, and deliver data transfers on par with dialup internet or, later, early DSL services. The third generation gave digital networks a bandwidth boost and ushered in the smartphone revolution. (The wireless spectrum refers to the entire range of radio wave frequencies, from the lowest frequencies to the highest. The FCC regulates who can use which ranges, or “bands,” of frequencies and for what purposes, to prevent users from interfering with each other’s signals. Mobile networks have traditionally relied mostly on low- and mid-band frequencies that can easily cover large distances and travel through walls. But those are now so crowded that carriers have turned to the higher end of the radio spectrum.) The first 3G networks were built in the early 2000s, but they were slow to spread across the US. It's easy to forget that when the original iPhone was released in 2007 it didn't even support full 3G speeds, let alone 4G. At the time, Finnish company Nokia was still the world’s largest handset manufacturer, thanks in large part to Europe's leadership in the deployment and adoption of 2G. Meanwhile, Japan was well ahead of the US in both 3G coverage and mobile internet use. But not long after the first 3G-capable iPhones began sliding into pockets in July 2008, the US app economy started in earnest. Apple had just launched the App Store that month, and the first phones using Google's Android operating system started shipping in the US a few months later. Soon smartphones, once seen as a luxury item, were considered necessities, as Apple and Google popularized the gadgets and Facebook gave people a reason to stay glued to their devices. Pushed by Apple and Google and apps like Facebook, the US led the way in shifting to 4G, leading to huge job and innovation growth as carriers expanded and upgraded their networks. Meanwhile, Nokia and Japanese handset makers lost market share at home and abroad as US companies set the agenda for the app economy. The Future of 5G Now, after years of promises and years of waiting, 5G is finally arriving in consumers’ pockets. The US Federal Communications Commission has held several auctions for 5G spectrum. In August the Trump administration said it will sell off more sections of the mid-band spectrum to spur 5G adoption. There's more to 5G than mobile phones; 5G technologies should also be able to serve a great many devices nearly in real time. That will be crucial as the number of internet-connected cars, environmental sensors, thermostats, and other gadgets accelerates in coming years. For example, 5G could help autonomous cars communicate not only with one other—a kind of, “hey, on your left!” set of exchanges—but also, someday, roads, lights, parking meters, and signals. And 5G’s low latency means that 5G could enable remote surgeries, allowing physicians in one location to manipulate network-connected surgical instruments thousands of miles away; medical providers may also be able to rely on 5G to rapidly transmit high-resolution images for use in diagnosis and treatment. Manufacturers can use 5G networks to monitor production lines remotely and maintain video feeds of their factory floors. Some companies are licensing their own bit of 5G spectrum and are replacing their Wi-Fi networks with private 5G networks. And even though 5G remains far from universally available, the telecom industry is already looking forward to the next big thing, the technology that will take advantage of areas of the wireless spectrum above 100 Ghz: 6G. The WIRED Guide to 5G
  9. How Apple Built 5G Into Its New iPhones The faster wireless standard uses different chunks of the radio spectrum—but the technology remains nascent. Apple's new iPhones will operate in both the slower, longer-range “midband,” as well as the super-fast, short-range millimeter-wave frequencies for 5G. Photograph: Brooks Kraft/Apple In introducing its first 5G phones on Tuesday, Apple said it had tested them on more than 100 networks. That’s a significant achievement, because 5G operates across a confusing patchwork of frequencies, meaning Apple had to pack additional chips, radio frequency filters, and multiple antennas into the iPhone 12. The road to 5G has been less impressive than advertised so far, paved with meh speeds and patchy coverage, largely because the technology is so fragmented. 5G is “a zoo of different technologies,” says Swarun Kumar, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and head of its Laboratory for Emerging Wireless Technology. “There is one standard, but it can be interpreted in different ways.” Apple did its best to sell people on the potential of 5G when unveiling its new phones, showing how it could make a smartphone behave like a game console by offloading computation. But the wireless technology remains nascent. Apple’s support for 5G across all four of its new iPhones “is really unusual,” says Ian Fogg, VP of analysis at Opensignal, a UK company that tracks wireless network performance. He notes that only larger Android devices tend to support 5G’s high-speed flavor. 5G was probably destined to disappoint at first, given the hype around it. The standard promises data-transfer speeds reaching 10 gigabits per second—100 times faster than 4G speeds—as well as latencies of 1 millisecond compared with 50 milliseconds on 4G; it also allows far more devices to connect to a network simultaneously. Just as 4G enabled a new generation of smartphone apps that fueled economic growth, the hope is that developers will build new services on 5G. Besides giving smartphones superpowers, the technology could eventually connect self-driving cars, industrial machinery, medical devices, and smart toasters to the cloud. 5G has also become a geopolitical football as countries jockey to take a lead in rolling it out. As yet, though, 5G has yet to live up to the hype. The 5G wireless standard is designed to make the most of different chunks of wireless spectrum. The standard covers multiple frequency bands, but the main chunks are low-band and mid-band frequencies below 6 gigahertz, and ultrawideband or millimeter-wave frequencies above 24 gigahertz. As a general rule, the lower frequencies offer more range but lower speeds while the higher frequencies provide super-fast speeds but only cover a few hundred meters and are highly susceptible to interference. Making the most of 5G means using a mix of all these frequencies. So far, US network providers have only offered some 5G spectrum slices. T-Mobile and AT&T have focused on low- and mid-frequencies, providing greater coverage but speeds barely above 4G. Verizon has mostly offered ultrawideband 5G, providing download speeds of almost a gigabit per second but only in very small downtown areas. Overall, the US lags behind many other countries in terms of average data speeds for both 4G and 5G, according to an October report from Opensignal. At Apple’s Tuesday event, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said the company would roll out 5G nationwide. This will run on low frequencies meaning less spectacular speed boosts but broad coverage. The company says this will involve technology that lets 4G and 5G users share the same spectrum. The picture is complicated in the US because only a limited amount of mid-band frequency, which offers a good mix of speed and range, is available. That will change in coming years, however. The US government recently auctioned off one chunk of mid-band and announced it would make more available through another auction. Kumar says it isn’t clear if one spectrum range will become more dominant than the others, although he expects a mix of mid-band and millimeter-wave tech to win out. “Everyone is trying to make up their minds, that’s the honest truth,” he says. Many of the 5G phones launched so far are only designed to work with one variant of 5G. Those sold in Europe, for instance, typically do not support ultrawideband, since it is less common there. Often, customers have to pay more for phones that support different versions of 5G, like the Samsung S20 on Verizon. “Handsets are all over the place,” Kumar says. “What each manufacturer calls 5G is different—it’s a very low bar.” All four models of the iPhone 12 are designed to use a range of frequency bands encompassing most of the low, mid, and high frequencies used for 5G around the world. This means the devices should be capable of working on multiple operators and roaming between 5G networks. Some think the iPhone 12 may turn out to be an important moment for 5G, helping to nudge more people to try it out and pushing networks to roll out more capacity. “It simplifies the buying process and hopefully future-proofs the device a bit, as new bands come online,” says Jason Leigh, an analyst at IDC who tracks the 5G industry. “Customers don’t need to think about what spectrum their preferred operator deploys.” But Leigh says a key question with 5G is how it may affect battery life. Apple said Tuesday that it has developed several technologies designed to minimize battery drain, including something called smart data mode, which lets apps use 5G networks only when they really need to. Some experts remain unconvinced, though. Kumar of CMU says he will wait to see which network providers offer the most compelling mix of speed and coverage. “Put it this way,” he says. “If I upgrade my phone right now, 5G is not going to be the reason.” How Apple Built 5G Into Its New iPhones
  10. SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Apple’s iPhone 12 launch drew mixed reactions in mainland China on Wednesday, with fans cheering a 5G model for their favourite brand while others planned to wait for upcoming devices from local rivals like Huawei Technologies. The much-anticipated Apple launch comes in the wake of Chinese Android-platform brands such as Huawei and Xiaomi Corp having already rolled out higher-end 5G devices compatible with China’s upgraded telecoms networks, with the U.S. giant seen by some analysts to be late to the party. In its second-largest market by revenue, Apple’s announcement was feverishly discussed on social media. With over 6 billion views, the tag ‘iPhone12’ ranked as the no. 1 topic on China’s Twitter-like Weibo. Asked if they’d buy the new iPhone, which will give Apple users 5G access in a market where such networks are already widespread, respondents to a Caijing magazine poll were almost evenly split: some 10,000 voted no, 9,269 said yes, and just over 5,400 said they were still considering it. Available for orders in China from Oct. 16, the iPhone 12 will cost 5,499 yuan ($815.37) for a ‘mini’ version, rising to as much as 11,899 yuan for the top of the range. That price tag was also a hot topic, with many complaining it was too expensive. “How is it this expensive even with no power charger or earbuds?,” said one commenter, referring to Apple’s announcement that it would leave out those components citing environmental reasons. Many Weibo users said they may put off ordering iPhone 12s to wait for the expected unveiling of Huawei’s rival Mate 40 Pro this month. Still, analysts said they were bullish about the iPhone 12’s reception in China, saying that the firm still likely had many loyal users who have postponed upgrading devices until the launch of the 5G-friendly iPhone 12. With the new model in view, research firm Canalys recently revised its forecast for iPhone shipments to China in fourth-quarter 2020 to a 14% year-on-year increase, a big swing from the 1% decrease it originally predicted. “In China now, 5G is not a premium feature, it’s a must-have feature,” said Nicole Peng, who tracks China’s smartphone sector at Canalys. Peng said the 5G launch will “trigger a new wave of phone replacements” for Apple in China before the end of the year and in first-quarter 2021. Canalys expects 50% of Chinese phone owners to be using a 5G device by the end of 2020, as networks and phone brands have aggressively pushed adoption. Only 29% of U.S. phone owners will be on 5G devices by the same time. Apple could also stand to benefit from a potential unravelling of its main high-end rival Huawei, which could see its smartphone division collapse next year due to U.S. restrictions on its supply of chips. Neil Shah, analyst at Counterpoint Research, said he expects Apple stands to benefit “significantly” from the potential gap which will be left due to the U.S. trade restrictions on Huawei to produce new phones at scale. On the flipside, there is lingering concern that Apple could be vulnerable to growing geopolitical tensions between the United States and China. Beijing is expected to unveil an ‘entity list’ that bars domestic companies from doing business with certain foreign companies amid industry speculation that Apple and other high-profile tech firms could be targeted. Throughout the past year though, consumer sentiment has yet to turn negative on Apple, even as Huawei’s troubles have made headlines in China. Apple’s unit shipments in China increased 35% year-on-year in China in the second quarter of 2020, according to Canalys. That made it the only top brand besides Huawei to see positive growth - a feat it achieved even without offering a 5G device. Source
  11. iPhone 12 Pro Max Named Most Popular 5G Smartphone in United States Apple's iPhone 12 Pro Max held the title of most popular 5G smartphone in 49 of 50 U.S. states as of January 2021, according to PCMag, citing data from Speedtest.net parent company Ookla and research firm M Science. The methodology behind the rankings: M Science directly tracks sales, and gave us cumulative sales figures up until Jan. 23. Ookla looks at the usage of its Speedtest apps on consumers' phones, and gave us data for tests taken in January. They agree that the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the most popular 5G phone in the US. The standard iPhone 12 Pro was the most popular 5G smartphone in Vermont and the Washington, D.C. capital region, the report claims. While the iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 12, and iPhone 12 Pro took the top three spots in the rankings, the smaller iPhone 12 mini was far less popular, in line with reports indicating that the 5.4-inch device has faced lackluster sales. Samsung's Galaxy S20+ and Galaxy S20 Ultra rounded out the top five best-selling 5G smartphones. iPhone 12 models support ultra-fast mmWave 5G in the United States, and rumors suggest that iPhone 13 models will expand mmWave support to additional countries. Source: iPhone 12 Pro Max Named Most Popular 5G Smartphone in United States
  12. Nothing from Chinese bogeyman allowed in core network by early 2023 The UK's Ministry of Fun* has published its roadmap for the removal of so-called high-risk vendors from UK telecoms networks as part of the second parliamentary reading of the Telecoms Security Bill. The roadmap adds detail to the previous edicts, which banned wireless carriers from acquiring new Huawei-made equipment by the end of the year, and forces them to fully remove existing Huawei kit by the conclusion of 2027. By the end of March 2021, networks will be prohibited from using Huawei's managed services, save for specialist maintenance services pertaining to kit installed prior to that date. Additionally, the rules prevent carriers from installing new Huawei infrastructure by the end of September, even if it was bought before the legal cut-off date. The roadmap also shed much-needed light on the rip-and-replace mandate. Carriers are prohibited from using Huawei equipment in the core network after 28 January 2023. By that date, they must also remove any infrastructure from the Chinese telco kit maker located at "sites significant to national security" and limit the presence of Huawei in 5G, FTTP, and other gigabit-capable networks to 35 per cent. In a statement, Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "Today I am setting out a clear path for the complete removal of high risk vendors from our 5G networks. This will be done through new and unprecedented powers to identify and ban telecoms equipment which poses a threat to our national security. "We are also publishing a new strategy to make sure we are never again dependent on a handful of telecoms vendors for the smooth and secure running of our networks. Our plans will spark a wave of innovation in the design of our future mobile networks." The decision to ban Huawei, first announced in July of this year, was justified by the sanctions levelled against the company by the Trump administration which have affected Huawei's ability to source new components for its telecoms and mobile products. This, Dowden said at the time, had a "significant, material" affect on its ability to supply the UK market. Huawei has repeatedly protested this decision, pointing at its two-decade tenure in the UK market, and partnerships with major fixed-line and wireless carriers like BT, Three, and EE. It regards the US sanctions as politically motivated rather than based on a substantive and proven national security risk. To fill the Huawei-shaped hole in the UK telecoms supplier market, the ministry is examining new diversification measures, bolstered by an initial funding of £250m. Part of these funds will be used to commence a trial of OpenRAN technology in partnership with NEC. The RAN (radio access network) is the element in a wireless network that connects devices. OpenRAN is an attempt to build these components using a set of common, interoperable standards, allowing carriers to mix-and-match suppliers. The NEC NeutrORAN project will aim to have 5G OpenRAN used within the UK by next year, with the first trials planned to take place in Wales. This will coincide with LTE OpenRAN deployments planned by Vodafone, which will see the firm's Huawei estate in the southeast of England and Wales replaced with new vendor-neutral infrastructure over the course of the next three years. Separately, the ministry has announced funding for new testing and R&D efforts. One facility, SmartRAN Open Network Innovation Centre (SONIC, because it's not just Americans who like tenuous acronyms), will provide a testing playground for new OpenRAN kit, and will be operated in partnership with UK comms regulator Ofcom and Digital Catapult. Meanwhile, the National Telecoms Lab will allow operators, suppliers, and academia to look at ways to improve security and interoperability by creating and testing "representative networks." In a statement, Lord Livingston, chair of the UK's telecoms Diversification Task Force, said: "Diversification of the UK Telecoms Supply Chain is very important to ensure that our future networks are secure and resilient and that we can maximise the economic and social potential that 5G brings. "As Chair of the Telecoms Diversification Taskforce, I fully support the ambition of the strategy and its objectives. In order to position ourselves at the forefront of the next generation of technology, it is vital that we invest in Research & Development, help shape global standards and work closely with our international partners." * Commonly known as the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Source
  13. Apple Reportedly Placed a Large mmWave 5G Antenna Order for the Upcoming iPhone 13 Family For 2020, when Apple unveiled the iPhone 12 series, mmWave 5G support was only available in the U.S., but things could take a different turn when the iPhone 13 officially announces. A fresh report claims that Apple is working with foreign telecom companies to bring mmWave 5G support to other regions in the coming years. To speed up this standard's proliferation, the iPhone giant has apparently placed a large order for mmWave antennas. Qiqi Will Reportedly Be Added to Apple’s Supply Chain and Provide It With mmWave Antennas for the iPhone 13 The report published by Patently Apple talks about Wistron Group having invested in Qiqi, which is now expected to be added to Apple’s supply chain for mmWave antennas for the very first time. Qiqi’s chairman Xie Hongbo, announced a few days ago that 5G-related shipments would increase significantly in 2021. This would drastically increase revenues for Qiqi, as it will allow more iPhone 13 models sold across the world to adopt the truest standard of 5G. In case you didn’t know, the majority of regions have adopted sub-6GHz 5G. It’s faster than LTE but significantly slower than mmWave 5G, though the upside is maintaining connectivity over a longer range. Likely, mmWave 5G adoption isn’t picking up the place globally because of the infrastructure costs accompanied by this deployment. For every few meters, there needs to be a mmWave 5G node to ensure optimum performance. Otherwise, where you see download speeds above 1,000Mbps, that bandwidth can take a sudden nosedive if you move a foot backward or sideways. This is due to the inferior range of mmWave, and in comparison, sub-6GHz is more reliable. Additionally, designing a mmWave antenna is complicated, but Qiqi has the resources and talent to make it possible for Apple on a larger scale. This should help give the iPhone 13 lineup and future iPhone models support for the mmWave 5G band in regions other than the U.S., as shipments would gain some momentum for this particular component. Do you think the iPhone 13 family should provide mmWave support in more countries? Let us know down in the comments. News Source: Patently Apple Source: Apple Reportedly Placed a Large mmWave 5G Antenna Order for the Upcoming iPhone 13 Family
  14. Qualcomm announces its first Snapdragon 4 series 5G chipset Today, Qualcomm is introducing the Snapdragon 480 5G platform, and the major significance is that it's the firm's first entry-level 5G chipset. While you can get a Snapdragon 690 handset for under $300, these smartphones will be in the $125-$250 tier. Indeed, a $125 5G smartphone is unheard of in the current market. "Qualcomm Technologies continues to accelerate 5G commercialization globally to make 5G smartphones more accessible, especially as people worldwide continue to connect remotely," said Kedar Kondap, vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. "The Snapdragon 480 5G Mobile Platform will exceed OEM’s and consumer’s expectations in delivering high- and mid-tier features at an affordable price." The Snapdragon 480 5G mobile platform comes with a Snapdragon X51 5G Modem-RF System, supporting both sub6 and mmWave frequencies. It also supports both standalone and non-standalone 5G, DSS, and more for up to multi-gigabit speeds. It has FastConnect 6200 for 2x2 Wi-Fi, coupled with Bluetooth 5.1 as well. Aside from the connectivity features, it has eight Kryo 460 cores that are based on an 8nm process and clocked at up to 2GHz. That comes with an Adreno 619 GPU, and a Hexagon 686 processor for 70% improved AI performance. It comes with the Spectra 345 ISP, promising the first triple ISP in the 4 series so users can capture photos from up to three 13MP lenses at the same time, or they can capture up to three 720p videos at the same time. The chipset also includes support for 120fps FHD+ screens, and for Quick Charge 4+, something that's brand-new to the Snapdragon 4 series. Partners that are promising to be on-board with the Snapdragon 480 include HMD Global with its Nokia phones, Oppo, and Vivo. Devices are expected to be announced in early 2021. Qualcomm announces its first Snapdragon 4 series 5G chipset
  15. ZTE Axon 20 5G under-display camera flops in DxOMark tests Last year, ZTE boasted about having accomplished what even the likes of Samsung still failed to do. It brought the world’s first commercially available under-display camera on a smartphone and explained how it pulled off this difficult trick. As much excitement as it generated, it also raised doubts on how it would work in practice. Early feedback was less than encouraging but perhaps the most damning comes from DxOMark’s review that almost put the ZTE Axon 20 5G at the bottom of its selfie list. Putting a camera under an active display is no easy task, which at least justifies ZTE’s pride. Making it work, however, is one thing but making it work well is a whole different game. Unfortunately, DxOMark found very little to praise in the Axon 20 5G as far as the 32MP selfie camera is concerned apart from being an impressive party trick. The camera’s biggest problems were in white balance and color, which actually isn’t surprising considering the technical hurdles that had to be overcome with this UDC technology. If you thought some phones produced pasty selfies, they have nothing on the color shading, color casts, and color quantization of the Axon 20 5G. Artifacts are also prominent and image quality degraded even further when the screen above the camera is actively emitting light, something that only ZTE’s camera app fixes. Video is noted to be only a little less bad though has the same problems with color and exposure. Stable focus is the one good thing about it but that’s only because it has a fixed focus system. With an average score of 26, the ZTE Axon 20 5G almost sinks to the bottom of DxOMark’s list for selfie tests, narrowly beating the ironically named Intex Aqua Selfie for the title of worst selfie camera. DxOMark does note that, for its price, the phone might still be good for other things, especially with its novelty. Just don’t expect much from selfies and video calls. Source: ZTE Axon 20 5G under-display camera flops in DxOMark tests
  16. Brazilian government allows Huawei to take part in 5G auction Reuters, citing the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, has said that Brazil is likely to allow Huawei to participate in the 5G auction that’s set to take place in June. The Bolsonaro government of Brazil has been looking for ways to exclude the Chinese company from the country’s networks, following the lead of the United States, but between Trump’s upcoming departure from the White House and the cost of excluding Huawei, Jair Bolsonaro is being forced to backtrack on his plans. The Brazilian newspaper had cited government and industry sources to back up claims that Brazil will allow Huawei into the 5G network auctions later this year. It said that with China being Brazil’s biggest trade partner and Huawei being more cost-competitive, Bolsonaro has faced resistance to banning the Chinese firm from industry and members of his government including Vice President Hamilton Mourao. VP Mourao told the newspaper that any company that takes part in the auction will be subject to the country’s data protection laws and must respect Brazil’s sovereignty. One of the arguments put forth by the current U.S. administration is that Huawei has links to the Communist Party of China and therefore data won’t be safe if Huawei is allowed into 5G networks. While Trump’s departure may have saved Huawei’s prospects in Brazil, it has come too late for the company in other countries like Poland and the United Kingdom which have already moved to ban Huawei from their 5G networks and remove it where it has already been installed. Source: Estadao (Portuguese) via Reuters Source: Brazilian government allows Huawei to take part in 5G auction
  17. Google Pixel 4 5G could launch alongside 4G handset at October event Google beating Apple in the 5G race The Google Pixel 3 (Image credit: TechRadar) The Google Pixel 4 is almost upon us, with it set to launch on October 15, and while we're expecting to see the Pixel 4 and 4 XL, it looks like there could be a third handset on the cards as well – the Google Pixel 4 5G. That's according to Japanese news site Nikkei Asian Review, which says an industry source told the publication that Google is testing a 5G handset that will be shown off at the October 15 event alongside the two new phones, a smartwatch and a notebook. While the smartwatch and notebook are big news in their own ways, it's the 5G phone that's really intriguing – alongside Apple, Google is one of the few companies that hasn't entered the 5G race yet, although it could be about to. What we're expecting to see in the Google Pixel 4 Only a test? That said, the sources state the Google Pixel 4 5G is in 'test production' while the 4G handsets are in full production. This means we might not see the next-gen device release at the same time as the main Pixel 4 and 4XL. For now, this is just a leak and not confirmed by any means – but Nikkei has got stuff right before, most recently predicting the Nintendo Switch Lite before that was announced, so it's worth bearing in mind. If precedents from other manufacturers are followed, the Google Pixel 4 5G could be almost identical to the Pixel 4 XL, but with the next generation of connectivity - a tactic used by Oppo, Samsung and Huawei to upgrade high-end phones to 5G. However we've also heard a rumor that the device will be the Google Pixel 4 XL 5G, and it'll be more powerful than the other devices. That's somewhat of a tongue-twister name, though. We'll find out either way come October 15, when Google hosts its Pixel 4 event. TechRadar will be on the ground, reporting live to bring you news, hands on reviews and analysis, so check back then for all the latest smartphone news. Google Pixel 4 camera samples leaked: what are the big new features here? Source: Google Pixel 4 5G could launch alongside 4G handset at October event (TechRadar)
  18. The next Samsung smartphone on the high end is the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, if rumors stay accurate. We’ve read the lists and listed the specifications, now it’s time to get a clearer look at what Samsung’s likely got in store for February 11, 2019. This is not the most cost-efficient way to gain access to 5G connectivity, of what you can be sure. But it might just be the prettiest. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra was rendered this week by the designer named Ben Geskin. This creator previously brought us images of a whole bunch of next-gen smartphones from Samsung, Apple, and others. This particular render is based on rumors and insider tips, as well as some actual photos of the phones that’ll be released alongside the Galaxy S20 Ultra. That’d be the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20+, or Galaxy S20 Plus. The phone rendering you’re looking at above largely relies on the image you see below. This was rendered by the leaker / designer Ishan Agarwal. He’s got a basic handle on the look of the final design, where Geskin puts on some extra shine. That back-facing camera will have specifications like what follows. The list you see here is quite likely accurate, given the batting average of the leakers from whens the information arrived. This set of specs makes the Ultra significantly more powerful than the other two Samsung Galaxy S20 devices in the photography department. Galaxy S20 Ultra camera specs: • 108MP main camera (wide angle lens) • 48MP telephoto lens (10x optical zoom!) • 12MP wide camera (ultra-wide-angle lens) • ToF sensor (looks like a camera, for depth-sensing, AR) If you take a peek at the collection of three S20 units in leaks from last week, you’ll find the other two (S20, S20+) almost matching, while the S20 Ultra takes the line to a higher level. The pricing of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra will match that of the above-and-beyond nature of the specifications therein. If the first Galaxy S10 5G phone’s price is any indication, this Galaxy S20 Ultra will have a base cost that’s higher than any Galaxy smartphone that’s come before. There’ll definitely be cheaper ways to get 5G phones in 2020, without a doubt. We’ll know more on February 11, 2020! source
  19. 5G won’t change everything, or at least probably not your things 5G is many things, but a radically better phone experience it is not. Enlarge / Artist's impression of millimeter-wave 5G speeds. Aurich Lawson / Getty The long-touted fifth generation of wireless communications is not magic. We’re sorry if unending hype over the world-changing possibilities of 5G has led you to expect otherwise. But the next generation in mobile broadband will still have to obey the current generation of the laws of physics that govern how far a signal can travel when sent in particular wavelengths of the radio spectrum and how much data it can carry. For some of us, the results will yield the billions of bits per second in throughput that figure in many 5G sales pitches, going back to early specifications for this standard. For everybody else, 5G will more likely deliver a pleasant and appreciated upgrade rather than a bandwidth renaissance. That doesn’t mean 5G won’t open up interesting possibilities in areas like home broadband and machine-to-machine connectivity. But in the form of wireless mobile device connectivity we know best, 5G marketing has been writing checks that actual 5G technology will have a lot of trouble cashing. A feuding family of frequencies The first thing to know about 5G is that it’s a family affair—and a sometimes-dysfunctional one. Wireless carriers can deploy 5G over any of three different ranges of wireless frequencies, and one of them doesn’t work anything like today’s 4G frequencies. That’s also the one behind the most wild-eyed 5G forecasts. Millimeter-wave 5G occupies bands much higher than any used for 4G LTE today—24 gigahertz and up, far above the 2.5 GHz frequency of Sprint, hitherto the highest-frequency band in use by the major US carriers. At those frequencies, 5G can send data with fiber optic speeds and latency—1.2 Gbps of bandwidth and latency from 9 to 12 milliseconds, to cite figures from an early test by AT&T. But it can’t send them very far. That same 2018 demonstration involved a direct line of sight and only 900 feet of distance from the transmitter to the test site. Those distance and line-of-sight hangups still persist, although the US carriers that have pioneered millimeter-wave 5G say they’re making progress in pushing them outward. “Once you get enough density of cell sites, this is a very strong value proposition,” said Ashish Sharma, executive vice president for IoT and mobile solutions at the wireless-infrastructure firm Inseego. He pointed in particular to recent advances in solving longstanding issues with multipath reception, when signals bounce off buildings. Enlarge / There are a lot of "5G" stock images available. Some of them are more optimistic than others. This is one of the more optimistic ones. Photographer is my life / Getty Reception inside those buildings, however, remains problematic. So does intervening foliage. That’s why fixed-wireless Internet providers using millimeter-wave technology like Starry have opted for externally placed antennas at customer sites. Verizon is also selling home broadband via 5G in a handful of cities. Below millimeter-wave, wireless carriers can also serve up 5G on mid- and low-band frequencies that aren’t as fast or responsive but reach much farther. So far, 5G deployments outside the US have largely stuck to those slower, lower-frequency bands, although the industry expects millimeter-wave adoption overseas to accelerate in the next few years. “5G is a little more spectrally efficient than 4G, but not dramatically so,” mailed Phil Kendall, director of the service provider group at Strategy Analytics. He added that these limits will be most profound on existing LTE spectrum turned over to 5G use: “You are not going to be able to suddenly give everyone 100Mbps by re-farming that spectrum to 5G.” And even the American carriers preaching millimeter-wave 5G today also say they’ll rely on these lower bands to cover much of the States. For example, T-Mobile and Verizon stated early this year that millimeter-wave won’t work outside of dense urban areas. And AT&T waited until it could launch low-band 5G in late November to start selling service to consumers at all; the low-resolution maps it posted then show that connectivity reaching into suburbs. Sprint, meanwhile, elected to launch its 5G service on the same 2.5GHz frequencies as its LTE, with coverage that is far less diffuse than millimeter-wave 5G. Kendall suggested that this mid-band spectrum will offer a better compromise between speed and coverage: “Not the 1Gbps millimeter-wave experience but certainly something sustainable well in excess of 100Mbps.” The Federal Communications Commission is working to make more mid-band spectrum available, but that won’t be lighting up any US smartphones for some time. (Disclosure: I’ve done a lot of writing for Yahoo Finance, a news site Verizon owns.) Real-world 5G Over the past year, 5G has gone from PowerPoint presentation to more-or-less shipping product, and that real-world experience has worn some holes through the persistent industry hype of presenting 5G as a “transformative” technology that will help doctors save lives and assist in steering self-driving cars. And its millimeter-wave variant has come off looking by far the worst. None of the three carriers to launch with millimeter-wave 5G—AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon—even published proper maps of that coverage at first. T-Mobile went furthest, offering a set of static images showing individual but mostly unlabeled streets in Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York highlighted in its trademark magenta. Enlarge / T-Mobile says it has significant 5G coverage in New York. T-Mobile But Verizon only identified neighborhoods in its 5G launch cities. AT&T, meanwhile, used the fact-checking-immune phrase “select areas” to describe its millimeter-wave 5G reach in such places as Austin, New York, and San Francisco. Reviewers soon found this 5G service even more elusive than advertised, although it's also exceeded 2Gbps in such ideal circumstances as the network Qualcomm set up for a summit for press and analysts in Maui this week. Only Sprint produced detailed 5G coverage maps before launching its service—but it has yet to tangle with millimeter-wave 5G at all. And even that coverage-friendly mid-band service blinked in and out of reach on different blocks in downtown Washington, DC, during my testing of Sprint’s HTC 5G Hub hotspot this fall. Enlarge / AT&T's map shows heavy 5G coverage (in cyan) over New York as well. AT&T Verizon finally posted more detailed 5G coverage maps in November, and they show a service with a reach that’s more like neighborhood Wi-Fi. In Washington, for example, the signal covers much of the vicinity of the White House and the Capitol but skips over most of Pennsylvania Avenue NW in between. Limited walking around the District with a loaned Inseego MiFi M1000 hotspot—a $650 model Verizon introduced in July—suggested even patchier coverage than Verizon’s map advertises. Over five blocks south and west of the Capitol, the M1000’s screen showed a 5G signal once. And that was in a very small spot at the intersection of 7th Street SW and Maryland Avenue SW; walking 15 feet east had the hotspot once again in 4G mode. Sharma couldn’t answer why the M1000 had fared so poorly—that would probably require him walking with me during the test. But he did observe of 5G in general: “It works really well when you’re in the coverage area.” Millimeter-wave may do best in crowded venues such as stadiums and convention centers, thanks to its ability to support more discrete devices than low- and mid-band 5G. But even there, early deployments aren’t covering entire arenas. Outside of its optimal use cases, millimeter-wave’s fragility will probably leave it as the balsa wood of bandwidth solutions. And just as 4G hasn’t banished 3G and 2G from the experience of users who go far enough into rural areas, 5G won’t make you forget about 4G. A November report from Ericsson predicted that worldwide, 5G would at best cover 65% of the world’s population by 2025. It’s early days in 5G hardware, too But can’t you just buy one phone that will speak all of these frequencies and wait for your carrier to catch up? No. The hardware itself suffers from the usual early adopter symptoms of limited compatibility and inefficient design yet still sells at a substantial premium over 4G phones. Take the situation with the 5G service T-Mobile formally launched Monday on its existing low-band 600MHz spectrum, a move that allows a far more extensive coverage cartography than T-Mo’s old millimeter-wave maps (which have since vanished from its site). But the two new phones T-Mobile announced to go with its “new” 5G, the $1,300 Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G and the $900 OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren, don’t support the carrier’s older millimeter-wave 5G. And the Galaxy S10 5G that works on its millimeter-wave can’t use this new service. Qualcomm, the dominant US vendor of smartphone chipsets, jumped into the market with its first-gen X50 modem, which only supported millimeter-wave bands. Its X55 modem is fluent in more frequencies but still exists as a separate part in a phone outside of its core “system on a chip.” Enlarge / Qualcomm's new QTM525 5G mmWave antenna module and Snapdragon X55 5G modem. Qualcomm That, in turn, keeps 5G phones larger, more expensive, and less battery-efficient than they would be with a 5G-included SoC. The situation isn’t as bad as it was with first-generation 4G phones—at least today’s 5G phones don’t require multiple charges per day—but they have been seen overheating in the field. We should see phones that check off the necessary boxes—support for all 5G frequencies included in the core chipset—by early next year. Qualcomm announced its first fully-5G-compatible SoC, the Snapdragon 765, at that summit in Maui Tuesday, along with a higher-end Snapdragon 865 that will still require a separate 5G modem. Motorola and Nokia promptly said they'd ship phones based on the 765; the latter's history of shipping affordable Android phones suggests the price of 5G may get a lot cheaper in 2020. Next year is also when you can expect to see an iPhone ship with 5G onboard—a development possible thanks to Apple buying Intel’s 5G smartphone business this summer. So please hold all questions about 5G iPhones until then. Expect confusion to persist Wireless carriers have largely avoided making 5G a mass-marketed product yet; for example, Wave7 Research analyst Jeff Moore commented in an email that Verizon “seems more or less indifferent to selling it.” Note that AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon leave 5G out of their cheapest tier of unlimited plans—although their next-cheapest plans are often the only realistic choice for intensive users, thanks to their allocation of usable mobile-hotspot data caps. T-Mobile, meanwhile, announced Monday that it would include 5G on all of its postpaid and prepaid plans. But the recent consumer launches by AT&T and T-Mobile, combined with the onset of more sub-$1,000 5G smartphones, will usher customers into a confusing situation. They’ll have a phone that may or may not work on the 5G near them, which may or may not be much like the 5G they’ve heard about in ads or on the news. “By sticking with [millimeter-wave], Verizon has an easier marketing story—its 5G network is blazing fast—but risks consumer disappointment when customers realize that they rarely see the 5G network,” emailed Avi Greengart, president and lead analyst at Techsponential. Verizon does plan to offer 5G over lower-band frequencies as well—which its consumer-group CEO Ronan Dunne told an investment conference in August would perform like "good 4G." But although it demonstrated 850 MHz 5G at Qualcomm’s summit, Verizon has yet to provide a timetable for the service expansion that Moore suggested would represent a catalyst for its so-far nascent consumer 5G business. “The other carriers have a more challenging marketing task, and they will need to explain that there are tradeoffs between speed and coverage,” Greengart said. He commended T-Mobile for emphasizing coverage more than speed in its own 5G rollout—make that its second 5G launch. “At least with this launch T-Mobile isn’t promising a revolution, but it will bring faster wireless service to large parts of the country that may never get mmWave 5G from any carrier.” AT&T may be worse off, since it began re-labeling its fastest 4G service as “5G E” in 2018. With its November low-band announcement, it now has three flavors on the menu: “5G E,” which isn’t 5G at all; “5G,” the low-band 5G that doesn’t have the speeds the industry’s touted; and “5G+” millimeter-wave service. Branding that calls out millimeter-wave 5G as the high-performance variant can help avoid consumer disappointment but also invites people to think less of low-band 5G—perhaps as “5G minus,” “5G Light,” or “Basic Economy 5G.” This isn’t a great situation for app developers, either—and without apps that can show off 5G, consumers may wonder what the fuss was about. “If you want your app to be hugely successful, it still needs to reach a lot of people,” said Amir Ghodrati, director of market insights at the analytics firm App Annie. “By requiring 5G, you would be limiting your consumer base pretty quickly.” He suggested game developers might find it easier to take advantage of 5G on a gaming-subscription service like Apple Arcade: “Those are avenues in which you can really push the boundaries of hardware and speed.” Ghodrati’s advice for the industry: dial back on the hype in favor of some honesty about 5G. “It’s going to be very different in some cities versus others,” he said. “If you can tell them as much of that upfront as you can’t, you’re going to be in a much better position.” Source: 5G won’t change everything, or at least probably not your things (Ars Technica)
  20. More G's than your body has room for — Can 5G replace everybody’s home broadband? On kicking cable broadband to the curb, experts say "The answer is absolutely! Depending.” Enlarge / Artist's impression of how fast your house might one day be with 5G mobile broadband. Aurich Lawson / Getty When it comes to the possibility of home broadband competition, we want to believe. And in the case of 5G mobile broadband, wireless carriers want us to believe, too. But whether or not technological and commercial realities will reward that faith remains unclear. As with 5G smartphones, the basic challenge here sits at the intersection of the electromagnetic spectrum and telecom infrastructure economics. When delivered over millimeter-wave frequencies and their copious amounts of free spectrum, 5G can match the speed and latency of fiber-optic broadband, with downloads of 1 gigabit per second and ping times under 10 milliseconds. But on those frequencies of 24GHz and up, signals struggle to reach more than a thousand feet outdoors. Carriers can fix that by building many more cell sites, each with its own fiber backhaul, but a fiber-to-the-block build-out may not be appreciably cheaper than fiber-to-the-home deployments. And while residences don't move and don't mind wireless antennas larger than a shirt pocket—unlike individual wireless subscribers—residences also have walls that often block mmWave signals. (Presumably also unlike individual wireless subscribers.) The other frequency flavors of 5G (the low- and mid-band ones) don't suffer mmWave's allergies to distance or drywall. But they also can't match its speed or its spectrum availability—which in the context of residential broadband means they may not sustain uncapped bandwidth. So as much as residential customers might yearn for an alternative to their local telecom monopoly—or for any form of high-speed access besides laggy connectivity from satellites in geosynchronous orbit—5G doesn't yet rank as a sure thing. There's a promise, but many things still need to go right for that promise to be fulfilled. Or, as New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin phrased things in an email: "If your fundamental question is 'will 5G allow you to dump Comcast' the answer is absolutely! Depending." Verizon’s bet on millimeter-wave broadband Consider the 5G Home service that Verizon Wireless launched in parts of Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, and Sacramento in October 2018 (later expanded to parts of Chicago). At $70 a month for unlimited data—with a $20 discount if you have a $30 or higher Verizon Wireless smartphone plan—and with download speeds from 300 to 940 megabits per second, the service would compare well with cable even if so many cable Internet plans didn't include data caps and slap on modem-rental fees. Reddit threads about the service in Houston, Sacramento and elsewhere offer a mix of praise for its performance (including reports of upload speeds in the range of 200Mbps, significantly faster than what most cable services offer) and complaints about it not being available at individual redditors' addresses. Enlarge / Verizon's 5G Houston coverage as of December 2019, with 5G "Ultra Wideband" in dark pink. For an idea of how much of the Houston metro this covers, you can zoom out from the same location at this Google Maps link. Verizon "Towards the beginning of service, there were a few firmware issues with the modem Verizon provided, but they patched that within a month," said a software engineer in Sacramento who asked not to be named. "Since then, there's not been significant downtime that I noticed." "Overall I'm happy with my 5G," wrote another 5G Home user in Houston who runs a crisis-management firm. "No downtime that I can remember. I don't have my exact speeds but it seems pretty quick. More than enough for my TV streaming and Web surfing." "There were only a few short (less than 30 min?) cases of 5G service downtime that I can recall, and they were all mostly toward the beginning of my service, so I imagine they were able to fix those stability issues quickly enough," wrote Vincent Garcia, a software engineer in Sacramento. "My speeds seem to be the same as when I first got the service: 300-600 Mbps down, 120-140 Mbps up." Garcia noted one other benefit: "One interesting thing I've noticed is that other ISPs in my area seem to have stepped up their game in terms of value (at least in terms of their initial contract period)." One early fear raised about millimeter-wave 5G, that it would suffer from “rain fade” akin to what cuts out satellite-TV reception during showers, doesn’t yet appear to have emerged as a serious problem. Those Reddit discussions about Verizon’s service don’t mention it, while a Twitter search reveals no firsthand reports of rain-faded 5G. Ashutosh Dutta, a research scientist at the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, pointed to a 2019 study by researchers at the Indian Institute of Information Technology Kalyani and the University of Calcutta’s Institute of Radio Physics and Electronics in West Bengal, India. They found that “proper fade mitigation techniques” can keep even heavy rain from disrupting millimeter-wave communication at frequencies up to 40 GHz. Verizon’s 5G Home, at 28 and 39 GHz, sits on the forgiving side of that line. Enlarge / Verizon's 5G Home service. Verizon But in the market at large, 5G Home remains an afterthought. Bob White, membership chair of the MacNexus Sacramento-area user group, said he was not aware of any of the several hundred MacNexus members who could take advantage of the service. "Only rumors and smoke," he commented in an email. Verizon's 5G Home service is scarce for the same reason its 5G smartphone service is scarce: the millimeter-wave frequencies it employs for both services don't reach far. And while the company now provides coverage maps highlighting individual blocks with mobile 5G, would-be subscribers to 5G Home can only plug in their street addresses and hope they get lucky. Verizon says it aims to sell 5G Home everywhere it offers mobile 5G but did not identify which cities among its 18 smartphone-5G markets would get the residential version next. Enlarge / There are no 5G coverage maps of Sacramento, so here's a picture of the city's skyline instead. J.Smith / Wikimedia Commons (AT&T has also been testing millimeter-wave fixed wireless residential broadband but has left possible pricing open-ended.) In a study released in March, MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett drew on records released by Sacramento's city government to conclude that after about six months of availability, Verizon had signed up under 3 percent of the single-family homes in range of its 5G Home signals. Those homes, in turn, only constituted 6 percent of the residential addresses in the areas he studied. In an email, Moffett professed himself no more enthusiastic about Verizon's prospects nine months later: "Millimeter-wave-spectrum propagation is too limited for the economics to be compelling." Chaplin, with New Street Research, voiced similar doubts. Noting the dense deployment of cell sites that millimeter-wave spectrum requires, he commented: "This means that a wireless company almost needs to become a cable company to make it work." At an investment conference in September, Verizon executive vice president and consumer group CEO Ronan Dunne said the carrier had turned one key corner by allowing most customers to position their 5G antennas indoors and install them themselves. "We've moved in the year to a point now where almost 80 percent of the antenna are indoor rather than outdoor," Dunne told attendees of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2019 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference. "So we're now ready to go mass market." (Disclosure: I've done a lot of writing for Yahoo Finance, a news site Verizon owns.) Enlarge / Not super-duper informative. FCC T-Mobile’s campaign promise While Verizon has to draw enough customers for each small cell site to recoup its costs, T-Mobile may be setting itself up for the opposite problem—too many subscribers downloading too much data on its promised home-5G service. The self-styled "uncarrier"—having called millimeter-wave 5G unworkable outside of dense urban pockets—has folded a different approach to 5G home broadband into its campaign to merge with Sprint. Let us consummate this deal, T-Mobile told regulators, and we'll bring fast but reasonably long-range 5G to 9.5 million people by 2024 on Sprint's mid-band 2.5 GHz frequencies. A lengthy and much-redacted filing with the Federal Communications Commission breaks down this pitch, starting with a few reasonably enticing bullet points: "an average download speed in excess of 100 Mbps or higher (with a minimum speed of 25/3 Mbps)"; a customer-installable router, with no extra monthly fee required for it; no setup charge; no contract. That filing does not, however, renounce data caps. A mostly blacked-out paragraph on page 18 and a completely redacted chart on page 19 show that T-Mobile has calculated its own forecasts for customer use and compared them to reported monthly average household use at Altice (250GB in the fourth quarter of 2018) and median data usage at Comcast (174 GB in December 2018). T-Mobile's current smartphone plans enforce relatively generous limits on mobile hotspot usage, while the company's $50-per-month invitation-only 50Mbps 4G LTE home service T-Mobile announced in March does not include data caps. The filing expresses confidence in the ability of Sprint's 2.5GHz spectrum to add more capacity to the merged company's network than its current business model will need in every market. "When a 2.5GHz radio is deployed on a tower, it produces a very large increment to capacity all at once," the filing reads. T-Mobile plans to combine those radios with the 600MHz spectrum underlying its own just-announced consumer 5G launch. Enlarge / Like someone spilled Pepto-Bismol on our great nation. T-Mobile The filing continues: While many of these areas need some 2.5GHz to be deployed in order to provide sufficient capacity to meet New T-Mobile's performance thresholds, traffic in these areas would end up putting very little load on the 2.5 GHz spectrum, leaving much of it available to provide wireless fixed broadband service. The result is that New T-Mobile will gain substantial excess capacity in a number of areas for a very low cost. The phrase "in a number of areas" does a lot of work there, warned New Street's Chaplin. "Sprint's 160MHz of 2.5GHz would account for maybe a year or two of capacity growth in big dense markets," Chaplin wrote of that carrier's spectrum holdings. "It is certainly true that T-Mobile could pursue and even serve 10MM homes in certain markets. But that is only 8 percent of the country." A separate declaration to the FCC by T-Mobile President and Chief Operating Officer Mike Sievert offers a little more clarity. In it, Sievert—set to become T-Mobile's CEO in May after the carrier's infamously outspoken boss John Legere steps down—says the new 5G home-broadband service will cover 52 percent of US ZIP codes. Sievert says that, by 2024, this new offering will reach deep into the territories of the two largest cable operators, touching 64 percent of Charter's footprint and 68 percent of Comcast's. Sort-of-5G from some smaller rivals Moffett expressed his own skepticism about using the scarcer spectrum of mid-band 5G for less-profitable fixed-wireless access. Smartphone users simply don't chew through as much data as people sitting in front of laptops or connected TVs on residential broadband connections. Instead, he pointed to a few experiments with what you could call "5G-esque" home broadband. "There are other models out there that may ultimately prove more interesting than Verizon's millimeter-wave approach," he wrote. "Starry's millimeter-wave-over-macrocells architecture has had some success in Boston, and mesh networks like Vivint and Common Networks on the West Coast have met with some success as well." Starry is the startup founded by Chet Kanojia after his prior venture—the broadcast-to streaming TV service Aereo—suffered death via a questionable Supreme Court interpretation of copyright law. It uses licensed 37GHz millimeter-wave spectrum for its $50/month, 200Mbps, no-data-cap home Internet service. Starry doesn't have to hang a mobile service off its cell sites and so can optimize its network for fixed-wireless service. In a 2018 research note, Moffett wrote: Starry's model for fixed wireless broadband is distinct from that of most of its competitors (most notably, Verizon) in that their service is delivered from macrocells rather than neighborhood-based small cells. Starry's secret sauce is a proprietary hybrid analog/digital beam forming technology that, by 'focusing' radio signals, allows Starry to achieve much greater propagation distances than would otherwise be the case. But of course, there's still a catch. In Starry's case, it's that the company has, so far, confined its service to multiple-dwelling buildings in its initial markets of Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC. The company has not yet shipped a single-family home system. Vivint and Common Networks, meanwhile, use mesh-network setups to distribute wireless broadband across neighborhoods in Salt Lake City and the Bay Area, respectively. If you don't live in those places, that may not come as much comfort. The last, best hope of broadband? But for all of the engineering and economic hangups possible with 5G home broadband, at least this family of technologies has multiple companies working to make it happen in new markets. You can't say that for incumbent technologies like cable, where the last serious attempt at pushing one cable company to "overbuild" into another's territory ended when the FCC lifted a condition governing Charter's 2016 purchase of Time Warner Cable, or DSL, which is sandbagged by aging, un-upgraded infrastructure. Google Fiber was supposed to crack open the resulting domination of many local markets by cable with breakthrough speeds and prices. But its rollout hasn't just stalled—it's reversed, with Google pulling out of Louisville this spring. Smaller ISPs continue to build out fiber in local markets around the country, while low-Earth-orbit satellite constellations like those now being launched for OneWeb and SpaceX also bear watching. But wireless has the stronger theoretical potential to cover more ground more rapidly. And right now, 5G or something like it represents the best possibility for wireless to carry large quantities of data. And while wireless has let us down before, 5G's raw speed means it ought to work exceptionally well in some edge cases. Chaplin noted one that cable operators in particular might appreciate: extending service the last few hundred feet to a potential customer's residence. Here's hoping. Source: Can 5G replace everybody’s home broadband? (Ars Technica)
  21. 2020 is not looking good — The Snapdragon 865 will make phones worse in 2020, thanks to mandatory 5G Qualcomm is so obsessed with 5G, it's hurting 4G performance to spur adoption. Enlarge / A more accurately labeled Snapdragon 865. Qualcomm/Ron Amadeo Qualcomm recently took the wraps off its flagship SoC for 2020, the Snapdragon 865. As usual, we can expect this chip in all the high-end Android smartphones in 2020, and it's 25 percent faster than last year, with fancy new camera features and AI-accelerating co-processors. What's unusual is the way Qualcomm designed the LTE modem in the Snapdragon 865: it doesn't have one. This means nearly every flagship Android phone will be a 5G phone in 2020, and putting the 5G and 4G on a giant extra chip means smartphones are going to use way more power, no matter which cell network you're connected to. When 5G networks are only going to be in their infancy in 2020, this sounds like an across-the-board downgrade to me. In 2019, 4G had a big power and size advantage over 5G thanks to the all-in-one SoC with an integrated modem solution. In 2020, Qualcomm is so desperate to make 5G a thing that it's making 4G worse. More power-hungry modems for everyone Enlarge / 2019's Snapdragon 855 offers 4G connectivity in a single, simple package. 2020's Snapdragon 865 has no onboard modem, and it needs an extra chip. Ron Amadeo We've spent the past year railing against early 5G hardware from Qualcomm because 1) the networks it supports barely exist and 2) the hardware requires significant compromise in your smartphone design, even if you never use 5G. The whole reason a modern smartphone works so well is due to the SoC, the System on a Chip. This combines every major computing component onto a single chip, which you can see in the diagram above. There's a CPU, GPU, an "ISP" for camera functionality, a Qualcomm "Hexagon" co-processor, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and—in every flagship SoC released in the last seven years except for the Snapdragon 865—an onboard cellular modem. Mashing everything into a single chip saves power, and it saves space, which means room for a bigger battery. We've already seen what happens when Android phones ship with separate modems. The first 4G phones with separate modems, like the HTC Thunderbolt, were legendary disasters. The Thunderbolt was a hot, slow, buggy mess, and it had a battery life of only a few hours. It was so bad that one HTC employee even apologized for releasing it. Qualcomm's 2019 5G package was the Snapdragon 855 with a separate X50 modem, and those were fireballs, too. jump to endpage 1 of 3 PCMag's Sascha Segan has been on the road testing 5G networks, and he wrote that heat was a constant issue: On a hot Las Vegas morning, my two Galaxy S10 5G phones kept overheating and dropping to 4G. This behavior is happening with all of the millimeter-wave, first-generation Qualcomm X50-based phones when temperatures hit or exceed 85 degrees. We saw it with T-Mobile in New York, with Verizon in Providence, and now with AT&T in Las Vegas. It's happened on Samsung and LG phones, with Samsung, Ericsson, and Nokia network hardware. While this has so far only been an issue with 5G phones, the Snapdragon's 865 could make it an issue with all flagship phones, even when using 4G LTE. We can let Qualcomm explain the disadvantages of a separate modem in its own words, if we go back to this 2012 press release. That's when the company talks up the single-chip LTE solution it debuted in the Snapdragon S4. "Typically, the more chips that are involved in building a device, the more challenging it is to conserve battery life while maintaining performance," Qualcomm wrote then. "Consolidation means good things for your battery." Qualcomm threw all that out the window with the Snapdragon 865. At least with the 2019 5G design—with its onboard 4G modem and the extra 5G chip—you could turn off the extra 5G chip and just use the SoC's onboard modem with the usual power savings. Now, with no onboard modem at all, even in 4G-only mode you'll be using more power by needing to light up that second chip. Smartphone manufacturers have spent the past few years aggressively protecting the space used by components. How many manufacturers have we seen remove headphone jacks, telling us they need the space to simplify the design and free up more space for batteries? And a 3.5mm headphone jack is useful. When 5G networks remain so limited, who would want to waste so much extra internal space on 5G hardware that might never be used? So far, the industry's response to 5G's bigger space requirements has been to make smartphones even larger. Consider the Galaxy S10 as a data point: you can get 4G versions like the 6.1-inch Galaxy S10 and the 6.4-inch Galaxy S10+, but if you want 5G, you will have to pick up the ultra-huge 6.7-inch Galaxy S10 5G, which is basically a new S10++ sku. For the Galaxy S11's 2020 release (which, remember, has to have 5G in every model), rumors point to across-the-board size increases for every model. Financially, it's easy to see why Qualcomm made this decision. The company is probably going to make a ton of money on the Snapdragon 865, since every phone manufacturer using the 865 has to also purchase a separate modem. Qualcomm gets to sell double the amount of chips compared to last year! Since Qualcomm, according to the Federal Trade Commission, has a monopoly on high-end smartphone chips, no one can do much about this. Instead, the public will pony up for this design change in the form of more expensive devices. We already have some data points for what the increased size, additional chips, and greater complexity mean for the cost of 5G phones. A year ago, OnePlus CEO Pete Lau told The Verge that 5G would raise the price of phones by $200 to $300, and that's about what we've seen in the market. The 5G version of the OnePlus 7T Pro costs $900 in the United States, while a similarly configured 4G OnePlus 7 Pro was $750. A Galaxy S10+ is $1,000, while a Galaxy S10 5G is $1,300. Plus, don't forget some carriers will charge extra every month for 5G—on Verizon, your bill will increase $10 a month. Pick your poison: Sub-6GHz or mmWave 5G 5G will be a requirement for any phone with a Snapdragon 865, but there are two kinds of 5G that manufacturers can choose to implement. So first—some definitions. "5G" with no other qualifiers doesn't mean a lot because, as in the early days of 4G, the cell carriers are shameless about misleading the general public and will label anything with the "5G" stamp if they think it will help sales. The biggest abuser is AT&T, which one day just decided to label its entire 4G LTE network as "5G," with no technical upgrades made. In the United States, honest uses of "5G" over the last year have mostly meant "mmWave," which uses a big chunk of higher-frequency spectrum (24GHz and above) for big speed increases. This spectrum is available because it's actually not that great at hosting a radio signal, and it comes at a cost of greatly reduced range, reduced signal penetration, and more complicated, power-hungry mmWave hardware. Implementing mmWave is a technical nightmare. When corporations talk about how 5G will revolutionize the way you watch cat videos or whatever, they're talking about mmWave. mmWave runs from 24GHz up to 100GHz, while 4G and sub-6GHz 5G are below 6GHz. Qualcomm The other kind of 5G is "sub-6GHz" 5G, which lives in the lower bands and offers only modest speed increases. In the US, carriers have started rolling out sub-6GHz, but the reason they focus so much on mmWave is because that 24GHz-and-above frequency is available in the US, while sub-6GHz frequencies are quite limited. The implementation of sub-6GHz is considerably more doable than mmWave, with less extra handset hardware and a longer range. International mentions of "5G" in 2019 almost always meant "sub-6GHz." Other countries have auctioned off sub-6GHz frequencies for 5G, but the US has not. Verizon's first public mmWave speed test hit an outrageously fast 760Mbps down. This was done under ideal conditions—right next to the mmWave tower and with no other traffic to contend with, but it's still a staggering speed for a mobile network. Sub-6GHz 5G was recently launched by T-Mobile, and the results are markedly less dramatic—the company says to expect 20 percent speed increases. PCMag's hands-on testing of T-Mobile's sub-6GHz 5G peaked at 297Mbps—but in some locations it dropped to 51Mbps, slower than 4G networks in the area. Back to Qualcomm's chip packaging decisions. Snapdragon 865 phones will all support some form of 5G, but which one will be used is up to the manufacturer. The mandatory X55 modem supports both sub-6GHz and mmWave, so it sounds like all phones will at least come with sub-6GHz support. If you want mmWave, that takes more work, and it will be something you have to design the entire phone around. MmWave penetration is so poor that your hand can block the signal. Qualcomm's solution to this problem is to buy more chips from Qualcomm, in the form of multiple QTM525 mmWave antenna modules, which can be placed all around the phone. By putting these mmWave antennas into the phone, allowing for reception at the top, bottom, and sides of the device, you can hopefully prevent the "you're holding it wrong" scenario, allowing for 5G reception in any orientation. Again, though, this just contributes to 5G's big problems: these antenna modules are sizable chips, and you'll have an even bigger, more expensive, more complicated phone. Qualcomm is rushing 5G, just like it rushed 64-bit Assuming the Snapdragon 865 turns out to be as big of a regression in practice as it looks now on paper, this won't be the first time Qualcomm has totally borked the smartphone upgrade cycle for the entire year. Toward the end of 2013, Apple unveiled the world's first 64-bit smartphone, the iPhone 5S, and it wasn't running a Qualcomm chip. Apple completely shocked Qualcomm by beating it to a 64-bit mobile SoC—one report even quoted a Qualcomm insider as saying it set off a "panic" inside the company. Qualcomm set about rushing a 64-bit flagship SoC out the door, and just over a year later, the Snapdragon 810 was born. The Snapdragon 810 is infamous for being Qualcomm's worst yearly upgrade ever. The fast turnaround time resulted in a chip that was extremely hot. It throttled constantly, to the point that it was hard to see the SoC ever hit its 2GHz rating. When it was warm, it turned in benchmark scores that were lower than the previous year's Snapdragon 801, and the battery life was terrible. Samsung actually dumped the chip from the Galaxy S6, citing overheating concerns, and shipped it worldwide with its own Exynos SoCs instead. No one else really got out of 2015 unscathed, and it was a bad year for Android phones. That Qualcomm insider mentioned above even admitted there was no technical reason to be in such a rush with 64-bit. "It's not that big a performance difference right now, since most current software won’t benefit," the insider said. "But in Spinal Tap terms, it's like '32 more,' and now everyone wants it." This is the way Qualcomm thinks about designing and marketing its SoCs. "Make the best chip you possibly can" doesn't always look like the guiding criterion. "What can we sell as the next big upgrade?" often seems like a higher priority. The company has openly admitted to this line of thinking in the past, saying it started making eight-core chips not because they were technically useful but because customers in China liked having the bigger number on spec sheets. This is the Qualcomm I think we're getting in 2020—a Qualcomm where marketing concerns force a feature out the door before it's ready, and every flagship smartphone suffers because of it. The move to separate modems will bring bigger, hotter, more expensive hardware, all for the sake of getting 5G in your smartphone, and you'll be lucky to actually connect to a 5G network. 5G networks aren't ready for primetime. MmWave is sounding more and more like it's not a nationwide answer for 5G coverage. The limited range, low penetration, and need for dense tower distribution led T-Mobile's CTO to declare that mmWave would "never materially scale beyond small pockets of 5G hotspots in dense urban environments." For companies like Verizon, which are trying to roll out mmWave, their own coverage maps reveal that mmWave is limited to specific addresses, rather than whole cities or sections of cities. US carriers are starting to turn to sub-6GHz for a more scalable form of 5G, but again, this lacks the huge speed increase of mmWave and (in the US, at least) has limited spectrum. Android phones are not long-term investments—manufacturers typically only support phones with major updates for one or two years, after which you're expected to buy a new one. With such a short lifespan, investing in a 5G device when 5G networks are not immediately available in your area doesn't make a ton of sense. You'll be upgrading again in a year or two anyway, so just hold off on the expense of 5G for a bit longer. Just as I didn't think anyone should buy a 5G phone in 2019, I doubt 2020 is the year of 5G, either. The carriers still need to get their networks together, and by 2021 we should be able to get a flagship device with an integrated, single-chip 5G SoC. The big problem is that Qualcomm turned "Don't buy a 5G phone in 2020" into "Don't buy any flagship Android phone in 2020." Forget 2020, wait for 5G in 2021 A bad flagship chip from Qualcomm doesn't leave a lot of other options for high-end smartphones in 2020. The one ray of hope for 5G phones is the Snapdragon 765G, which was also introduced last week. This is Qualcomm's first-ever chip with a 5G modem integrated into the SoC, and it should do plenty for 5G's battery consumption. Enlarge / The Snapdragon 765G block diagram. Note the juicy "connectivity" block at the top, denoting the integrated 4G/5G modem. Qualcomm One downside to getting the 765, though, is that it's slower than a Snapdragon 865. Another is the limited phone selection of this chip. For instance, if you wanted a Galaxy S11, you probably won't be able to get one with a 765. We actually have no idea what the distribution of this chip will be like. In the past, the 7-series chips have been hard to find in US devices, and they have been more popular in China and India. The good news is that the 765 shows us that Qualcomm is working on integrated 5G; integrated 5G is just not ready for flagships this year. This first chip is a good signal that 2021 will see a flagship SoC with integrated 5G. Until then, things could be rough. If you really need a new smartphone, may I suggest one of the fine 2019 devices that are still available for purchase? The best Android phones of 2019 are easily the OnePlus 7 Pro and 7T, and the 7 Pro can be had for $150 off, making it $550. If you need a good camera, the Pixel 3a has one of the best out there, and it costs just $400. As for 2020, it's not looking like a great year for smartphones. We still have to wait for actual devices to come out to confirm all of this, but I'm not optimistic. We'll have larger, more expensive devices with worse battery life, and none of those things should make you want to "upgrade." Source: The Snapdragon 865 will make phones worse in 2020, thanks to mandatory 5G (Ars Technica)
  22. Vodafone announces Huawei equipment removal from its 5G network's sensitive core Vodafone has announced that it will remove Huawei equipment from the sensitive areas of its 5G network. The decision will affect its operations across Europe after the UK recently made a decision on whether the Chinese firm should have a presence in networks inside the country. Under the new rules in the UK, telecoms can continue using Huawei technology but only in 35% of the network and in non-sensitive parts such as the network’s core. Commenting on the move, Chief Executive Nick Read said: “We have now decided as a result of the EU toolbox and the UK government’s decision to take out Huawei from the core. This will take around five years to implement at a cost of approximately 200 million euros.” Vodafone’s estimate of the bill is lower than that of BT which said removing Huawei from part of its network would cost it £500 million over five years. O2 and Three also operate 5G networks in the UK and will have to look at amending their networks to meet the new guidelines. According to the UK government, the new proposals to limit Huawei’s involvement in the UK networks will lead to a more diverse range of hardware manufacturers being included. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport said it’s now drawing up plans to help diversify the supply chain and see the adoption of open standards that will allow easier access for new entrants into the sector. Source: Vodafone announces Huawei equipment removal from its 5G network's sensitive core (Neowin)
  23. want a little 5G with your wi-fi 6? — MediaTek and Intel team up to bring 5G networking to laptops and PCs MediaTek and Intel aim to bring 5G communications to a laptop near you. Enlarge / The new partnership will be Mediatek's first venture out of the ARM world and into x86. MediaTek In April of this year, Intel cancelled its 5G-modem building plans. This week, it's announcing that they're back on the table—but this time, with system-on-chip vendor MediaTek building the hardware. The partnership has Intel setting the 5G specifications, MediaTek developing the modem to match, and Intel optimizing and validating it afterwards. Intel will also lend its marketing and integration muscle to convince OEMs to use the new hardware and help them make sure it works well in final products. This also means Intel will be writing operating-system-level drivers for the modems. The partnership looks like a sensible one for both parties: Intel has been struggling to get its own 10nm hardware out the door on time, so getting this hardware design task off its plate may relieve some pressure there, while still keeping the company in an emerging market. MediaTek, on the other hand, can definitely benefit from Intel's software development expertise and deep integration with OEM vendors in the PC space. Specifically, the companies will be adapting MediaTek's existing Helio M70 5G modem for use in PC hardware. The M70 modem is already being built into MediaTek's Dimensity family of ARM System-on-Chip (SoC) designs; the new partnership gives MediaTek a whole new platform to market to and gives Intel a foot back into the door in 5G. It also may represent a way for Intel to push back against ARM-based Windows hardware like Samsung's Galaxy Book S, built on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8cx platform. The Helios M70 is a 5G FR1 modem only—meaning sub-6GHz communication, which shares RF characteristics (and, in a broad sense, most performance characteristics) with existing 4G technology. 5G FR2, which operates in the millimeter-wave spectrum, is where the most jaw-dropping performance improvements come from—but it's also where the most operational problems come from, since it requires a very clear line of sight from transmitter to receiver. The Intel/MediaTek collaboration is a long-term project, and we expect to see the resulting hardware shipping some time in 2021. Source: MediaTek and Intel team up to bring 5G networking to laptops and PCs
  24. Optus throws down 5G gauntlet, claims fastest speeds in Australia Optus outguns Telstra in 5G download speed, study suggests (Image credit: DenPhotos/Shutterstock) Telstra definitively laid claim to having the widest-ranging 5G network last month, but now Optus has thrown down a gauntlet of its own by claiming to have the fastest 5G speeds in Australia. A report by telecommunications company Systemics-PAB found that Optus’ average 5G download speed was 22% faster than Telstra’s during independent testing that was conducted across Sydney and Melbourne late last year. While Optus outgunned Telstra in download speed tests, it was found that Telstra was better than Optus when it came to 5G average upload throughputs – though only marginally so with a difference of less than 10%. Following the release of the findings, Optus’ managing director, Matt Williams, released a statement which appears to call out Telstra in all but name. In the blog post, Williams requested “one carrier to formally remove their 5G advertising claiming ‘Australia’s best 5G’”. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again,” says Williams, “you can’t claim to have Australia’s best 5G network if it’s not the fastest”. He went on to say that, “For Optus, this isn’t about stripping our competitor of their self-declared title – this is about being transparent with the Australian consumer, ensuring that they get access to all the facts”. At the time of writing, Telstra’s website still includes the statement: “Australia’s best 5G. Now covering 50% of Australians.” Who has Australia's best 5G? Australia’s two major telcos are still locked in a back and forth over who has the better 5G network, but perhaps inevitably, the answer to who has the best 5G network in Australia lies in what is most important to you. Telstra’s 5G network is available in more locations than Optus, and after announcing that its network now reaches more than 50% of Australians last month, it has aggressive plans to reach 75% of Australians by the end of June this year. While Systemics-PAB concluded that Telstra has the top 5G network when it comes to coverage, it highlighted that for those wanting top download speeds and the lowest possible latency, Optus is the fastest network available – if it’s available in your area. To check availability in your area, compare Telstra’s 5G coverage map with the Optus 5G network map. Optus throws down 5G gauntlet, claims fastest speeds in Australia
  25. iPhone 13 likely to support much faster 5G While we are still months away from the next iPhone reveal, that has not stopped the rumor mill from turning. Previous reports suggest that it will have an always-on 120Hz display, a smaller notch, a vapor chamber for better cooling, smaller batteries and a storage option of up to 1TB. Now, a report states that the iPhone 13 will support millimeter wave (mmWave) 5G outside the US. The current iPhone 12 already supports millimeter wave (mmWave) 5G in the United States, but according to Apple insider Ming-Chi Kuo, the tech will also be arriving to multiple new countries. In a note seen by iMore, iPhone 13 handsets that will be sold in the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, and by “major European mobile operators” will support millimeter wave (mmWave) 5G. 5G is a combination of sub-6GHz low- and mid-band frequencies, and millimeter waves. Millimeter wave technology is fast, providing speeds in the gigabits, but it can be easily blocked. Low-band sub-6 frequencies can penetrate barriers like walls and windows, but it's slower. An iMore report from February claimed that Qualcomm's X60 modem will feature in the next iPhone, bringing the vastly improved 5G speeds but also data aggregation that will allow the iPhone to use both mmWave and sub-6GHz bands simultaneously and further supports the claim that mmWave will likely reach more countries. Source: iMore Source: iPhone 13 likely to support much faster 5G
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