I wrote last year about some of the issues facing 5G, the biggest being the lack of reach, as 5G signals just don’t travel nearly as far as 4G signals do, and they never will.
As I mentioned back then, if your phone shows you have a “5G” signal, you almost certainly don’t. It’s pure marketing, and it’s really just a solid 4G connection. It’s probably a good signal, but it’s not “5G” in any sense of the word.
However, at a recent Braves game I noticed that my phone showed a “5GUW” signal (with “UW” short for ultra-wideband, which is what real 5G is) so I did a quick speed test. I was impressed!
Beyond the very healthy 286Mpbs download speed (which is faster than most homes in the US can get), the initial speeds in the test were hitting as much as 1.5Gbps, which is faster than most fiber connections! I was stunned.
That said, my concerns from before still hold true. Ultra-wideband can deliver huge numbers, but the signal just can’t travel very far, or penetrate walls or humans very well. It’s never going to be the solution for everyone nationwide. 6G is probably a decade or so away, so I suspect many of us will be using 4G long into the future in the areas that 5G just can’t reach.
5G is going to be great if you’re in an urban area or at an event like a baseball game. Speeds like in my screenshot above are just silly, and should allow you to do anything you want with your phone.
The rest of your life will be full of 4G for at least the next few years, even if your phone shows a fake “5G” signal. That’s ok too, since high-end 4G towers are more than adequate for whatever we need, but it’ll be interesting to see how things shake out in the coming years as the 6G standard starts being developed.