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5G follies: The network that doesn't exist

You’re forgiven if you think you need to prepare fifth-generation (5G) cellular networks, which have been getting increasing buzz, fed mostly by the carriers and the equipment makers who sell to them. They’re dangling promises of cellular networks that match gigabit Ethernet wired networks — wherever you may be.

Too bad 5G is a fiction. It doesn’t actually exist — there’s not even a standard for 5G technology, much less anything real. Maybe in a decade there’ll be something actually called 5G that you will be able to make decisions around — but not for years. Don’t waste your time.

Carriers are notorious for making network promises a decade or more before they deliver them. Partly, that deflects from the poor state of many carrier deployments. Partly, that’s the usual tech market interest on new and shiny baubles.

But given the huge infrastructure changes that must be made for a network technology like cellular to get deployed (and all the cell towers that must be installed in communities that don’t want them), the gap between promise and delivery in mobile telecom is like the gap between earth and Mars. No matter the claims, you won’t get there for years.