AT&T Mobility Exec: Too Early To Get Excited About 5G

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Remember how excited we were when 4G LTE speeds were announced and the carriers were battling to roll them out as fast as possible?  Naturally, the next step will be 5G, and talks are in the works about deployment by 2020 – quite a ways down the road – but certainly an attainable goal.  While we know that 5G networks are being test in South Korea, Verizon's Chief Information and Technology wizard, Roger Gurnani, claimed just last month that Verizon wants to be the first with 5G in North America.  He claims Verizon is going to be doing field tests over the next few months and are expecting some sort of "commercial deployment" in 2017.  However, AT&T Mobility CEO Glenn Lurie believes we should hold off on any celebration of a 5G network just yet.

Certainly the prospect of 5G networks is exciting with speeds 30 – 50 times faster than Verizon's current 4G LTE – defined as 2Gbps is even faster than Google Fiber.  Now remember these are theoretical speeds, but suffice it to say 5G is a lot faster than 4G.  However, our source interviewed Glenn Lurie, chief executive of AT&T Mobility and he said, "We're not at a point to be making promises or commitments to customers as to what 5G.  We as an industry have been really good at overpromising and under delivering when it comes to new technology…Let's make sure that before we start hyping what it's going to be, that those standards are agreed to."  However, Rima Qureshi, chief strategy officer for Swedish telecom supplier Ericsson claims they are "aligned with Verizon to ensure the success and leading position for the US."

This kind of rhetoric will be commonplace between the carriers, especially Verizon and AT&T as each strive to provide the 'largest' and 'fastest' network – something that helps customers decide which network is superior.  Verizon wants to push 5G out first as they did with 4G LTE, but there obstacles to being the 'first,' such as outages and growing pains that AT&T and T-Mobile did not have to experience as badly following Verizon.  AT&T's position is that 5G is still in its infancy with no defining industry standards – are they speaking the truth or laying a foundation of excuses as Verizon plows ahead.  A Verizon spokesman said, "Innovation happens when you're willing to look at things a little differently than others, and you're willing to put in the hard work to make your vision a reality."  This isn't much different from AT&T's downplaying of 4G back in 2008 claiming the devices would be clunky and quickly drain the batteries.

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We can only hope that 5G will be just over the horizon rather than five years in the future, as it opens up all kinds of new possibilities, both commercially and for the average consumer.  Can you imagine downloading a movie, such as "The Guardians of the Galaxy" in only 15 seconds rather than the current 4G LTE speed of 6 minutes!  With companies such as Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm and a number of venture capitalists looking to tap into that new network, maybe a 2017 start is a possibility.