Why 5G’s Future Depends on Spectrum Access | WSJ


(peppy percussion music) – [Narrator] The fifth
generation of wireless technology has made it to cities
in the United States. Across the country,
T-Mobile, Sprint, and others are laying the foundation for
a faster, better internet, but in the race to develop 5G, U.S. firms are already at a disadvantage. They have limited access to
some of the radio frequencies that enable 5G, and operators worry that there’s not enough space
to meet anticipated demand. In Chicago, Verizon download speeds reached a maximum above
one gigabyte per second. While maximums are interesting, median speeds say more about coverage. Look in South Korea, and you’ll
see higher median speeds. That means their networks may
be faster in more scenarios. To understand why the
U.S. has a disadvantage, you’ve got to understand
how wireless technology, like 5G, works.
(pleasant electronic music) Most wireless systems rely on radio waves that can carry signals back and forth between your device
and a service provider. To run these systems, firms
like Sprint or Vodafone have to buy space in the
radio frequency spectrum. The left side of the spectrum chart represents low frequencies. Radio waves in this portion
of spectrum are long and can travel farther distances. Think of it like playing
heavy bass in a building. The low frequencies can
be heard from a distance, even if they travel through
solid objects like walls. Frequencies toward the
middle left of this chart are in the mid band. These frequencies, between
one and six gigahertz, are quite useful. They’re low enough to send
signals a long distance, but they have an advantage. They can carry more data than low bands. Some versions of 4G and WiFi
live in this sweet spot band. The main issue here is
that space is limited. Move to the right, and the
frequencies get higher still. As frequencies get higher,
their wavelengths shrink. Shorter wavelengths let
engineers cram more data into their radio signal. Firms in the United States are
mostly building 5G networks in this higher frequency
portion of spectrum. The ultra-fast download
speeds and low latency will enable developments
in self-driving cars and virtual reality, but
the short wavelengths here present technical issues.
(pleasant orchestral music) For starters, the waves
don’t travel very far. This means that your signal
might not work indoors or if anything blocks your line of sight to the tower, like a tree. The inability to travel great distances also means that cities will
need to install several nodes to ensure a blanket of coverage. The buildout of that
infrastructure will not be cheap. So why are U.S. firms at a disadvantage? It has to do with governance. The International Telecommunication Union divides the world into three regions. Within the regions, countries negotiate to
reserve frequencies. Operators then bid for a portion. Think of it like an auction
for invisible real estate. In the United States, two groups control that bidding process. The FCC holds auctions for private groups like Sprint and T-Mobile,
and the NTIA does the same for federal agencies like
the Defense Department. – The Department of Defense
has traditionally been one of the biggest
spectrum users in the U.S., and so they are the
incumbent in many bands, and any bands where
you could move them out has been done long ago. – [Narrator] As a result,
U.S. firms have less space to build 5G networks that
balance higher data speeds with reasonable coverage. Countries in other
regions have more access to that spectrum sweet spot, so China, Japan, and South Korea are building out midband
and high band all at once. For its part, the FCC wants
to help domestic firms roll out 5G fast. – My plan includes three key components, freeing up spectrum, promoting
wireless infrastructure, and modernizing regulations. The FCC is moving forward
aggressively on all fronts. – [Narrator] The three
5G-related auctions in 2019 are for those faster high bands, which means that early
rollouts in the United States will mostly be that fast download, limited coverage flavor of 5G. Firms in other countries
don’t have that limitation. Because they have more
access to the mid band, their 5G networks will offer wide coverage alongside blazing fast speeds. Many analysts anticipate
that companies in China will lead the charge
toward a mid band-type 5G. And leading the global
market early is important according to the Defense Innovation Board. Previous market leaders in wireless tech set standards that the rest
of the world had to follow. That’s good for business. Analysts say that U.S.
firms have some flexibility to repurpose their
existing mid band spectrum. AT&T, for example, will introduce their mid band Sub-6 network in 2020. As the decade advances,
firms in the United States are expected to lobby for more
access across the spectrum, but those negotiations will take time. One FCC commissioner
said that in the past, these agreements have
taken five to 10 years, which means that for the near-term, 5G in the U.S. will be fast
but not very accessible. (pleasant synth rock music)

100 thoughts on “Why 5G’s Future Depends on Spectrum Access | WSJ

  1. Wow they have to buy the bandwidth. From who, who owns the bandwidth? If it’s the gov, they really have their hands in all pieces of the pie!

  2. 5G WILL GIVE YOU CANCER: The American Cancer Society and many Universities have proven that the high frequencies used for 5g cause cancer
    Here is my reference for proof of my claim
    https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/radiation-exposure/radiofrequency-radiation.html

  3. Other countries are contracting with Huawei for their 5G buildout…even under threat of sanctions from the Trump administration. Huawei has perfected 5G to a higher standard than the competition.

  4. 5g is only discussed since China has been aggressive with trying to get other countries to install Huawei 5g before any other country even thought to even want it. 5g is really to expensive to install and China is willing to invest, makes you think why they would invest, based on their behavior with everything else there is reason for red flags.

  5. There’s a reason every single product you see when you walk into a dollar store has “Made in China” on it. 1.6 billion people & still they resort to spending 24 hours a day trying to steal every other countries intellectual property. And then spend all day pretending the culture is so unique and great when in 30 years they’ve manage to only create replica smartphone cases 😂😂

  6. This is gonna kill us all just because they pocketed all the money for infrastructure rather than actually lay out the fiber infrastructure that would give more people way greater speeds and will not cause any health concerns, but these crocks wanna blast sub millimeter waves through our walls and through our cells. On fcc.gov they publicly acknowledge that its known to break the double helix bond that holds out DNA together the very code that makes us what we are will be broken by this technology… anyone who thinks we need 5G is ignorant and naive

  7. Evil US govt mouthpiece making all kinds of excuses, lies all the time.😝🤣😝😝😝.In US, 4g is called 5g. Poor customers are easily brainwashed by mouthpiece media, so sad.

  8. Yeah, we should totally be selling more long term leases on spectrum to whoever is able to pay the most right now. That definitely doesn't support monopolies. It also definitely doesn't lead to the misuse of a public resource for private gain. Maybe we could allocate spectrum based on the greatest benefit to you know… citizens. And reallocate as often and be geographically specific as possible.

  9. it took Sprint about 5 years to rollout their LTE network. should have been a class action lawsuit selling phones on a non working network

  10. Gentleman,
    Today China start the 5G in 50 cities for public. With the speed of 500Mbps (17dollars/month) and 1000Mbps(33dollars/month).

    This is why you see this video today.

  11. Largest problem with using the higher frequency bands is rain fade. Rain fade is caused because the frequency wavelength is so short that a raindrop in the air can actually shorts it out. The US military submarines use what they call extra low-frequency to transmit information or elf these frequencies are that long that even if the submarine is submerged underwater it can still receive radio Transmissions. This comes at a price because it is an extremely slow transmission speed.

  12. I think you mean Megabits and Gigabits, not Megabytes and Gigabytes. 1 Gigabyte=800Gigabits. You won't see those speeds over wired connections for years now, and wired connections are generally required to provide the backhaul from the tower to the rest of the providers' networks.

  13. Honestly, 5G doesn't make sense to me at the moment. The main benefits that it brings are only going to be applicable to urban markets. Urban markets already have access to great LTE and wifi.

    5G is definitely needed for the future but this current implementation is not going to fair well for the US market as a whole because it is too constantly

  14. It is veird that 4G being cheaper and having a greater coverage has never reached it's full potential before being replaced by the next generation that has the only advantage of higher speed. Why do we need so much speed on a mobile device? Something is fishy in here.

  15. The waves don't travel far because they are absorbed by stuff in the environment. Humans are made of the same stuff. This will cause cancer. Can I sue already'?

  16. the number of 4g base stations in China is 10 times of US. Before 5g, US should care more about 4g. Basically, the US tech advantage, if there is, does not benifit its normal or poor people.

  17. Not sure if all your facts are necessarily correct, especially you don't talk about the large bandwidths that mmWave provide and is directly responsible for increase in speeds. Again, Sprint has a wide bandwidth in 2.5 GHz that it's banking on for speeds. South Korea, along with a good chunk of mid-band has large amounts (800 MHz) of mmWave spectrum that it's hoping will help it reach super fast speeds.

  18. 5g phones currently are too expensive, not to mention in the us, 5g is currently available in certain cities and in those cities, certain parts. It’s still in its infancy to benefit the everyday person.

  19. Warning on 5G! People are finding out this causes cancer, headaches, nausea. Listen to the people installing it and the people who have already had it installed.
    The media and the tech companies are lying to everybody. 5G came about from a military weapon. Just imagine when these are everywhere 500 feet to the next to the next. There will be no escape!

  20. Meanwhile huwawei in Switzerland rolled out 5g at a whopping 3.67GB per second. In many cities across Switzerland.

  21. Please stop saying 5G will bring us full autonomous cars!!!! The only thing I want 5G doing for my autonomous car is updating the map, which 4G can already do. When u say 5G will usher in level 5 autonomous driving ur implying a computer hundreds of miles away will be driving ur car for u and if u get poor reception somewhere ur probably gonna die or ur car will pull over and stop. Tesla a leader in self driving tech and never have they ever said they need 5G cell service to make full self driving possible. I want decisions made by a powerful computer in the car with me.

  22. Don't steal the frequencies from the C-Band. For cable and small dish subscribers, if the C-Band is sacrificed expect your bills to greatly increase.

  23. Those numbers don't look right. Did you mean Giga- and MegaBITS per second? I don't think anyone achieved 1.1 MB/s = 8.8 Mb/s over radio yet. Also it is customary to refer to bits per second not bytes per second when discussing network throughout.

  24. 最要命的是美国的4g都已经这么贵了,还不是全面覆盖。5g可能会更贵!现在4g一个月的套餐钱相当于在中国一年的钱….

  25. We are a large Regional, Rural & Remote Communications, Telecommunications & Telemetry company here in Aust.

    Our incumbent Telco ( Tel$tra) get any band it wants & it gets as much band as it wants.

    Australia's No.1 Telco ( Tel$tra ) & No. 2 Telco (Optu$) are currently rolling out 5G networks useing 3.6Ghz whilst it is "Generally" pretty fast its range is extremely limited onlu approx 500m's to 800m's from a tower / light pole & is regularly beaten by our 4GX network operating in the B28 700Mhz network.

    5G in Australia is not capable of penetrating into buildings & the infrastructure (routers) to receive the 5G is exteremly limited so much so tuat both Tel$tra & Optu$ only have 1 x router each & the router does not work indoors.

    Netgear have been stopped from supplying a 5G router into Australia because they will not remove the external antenna ports thus allowing it to receuve 5G indoors via an external antenna so that it can be used indoors which the 2 x Telco$ frown 👹 on.

  26. this is just a waste of time anyway, when SpaceX release StarLink all of 3g, 4g, 5g nerworks will be obsolete, that's just 2 years away 😉

  27. I don’t want 5G, not only does it give off so much Radiation that it literally boils the water in your skin and uses the EXACT same technology as the military’s “Active Denial System” which is literally a truck with a microwave ray gun on top that is used to microwave people up to 2 football fields away, it’s also going to be used as a Mass Government Surveillance System that will use large arrays of cameras, Long distance microphones which have already started appearing on lampposts in the uk, and those 5G Nodes that are going to be used as the Active Denial System, it just so happened that net neutrality was repealed and Apple integrated a government trust score system into iOS 12 and 13, mabey your phone will give that score to the government and if it gets too low, the towers will give you extra radiation to kill you off quicker, mabey you won’t be able to buy plane tickets or groceries which has already happened to a bunch of people in China, mabey if you walk into the property of a public park at night, you’ll be microwaves by the Active Denial System or if you don’t pay a parking ticket, the speakers on top of the 5G nodes will tell you to walk to the police station and turn yourself in or get microwaved. I don’t want to live in that dystopian world with an evil treasonous government where the average life span is 30 and the government takes away all of your rights to the point where your a slave to the system

  28. When 10G is launched, you need a wired mobile phone, because your phone has to stay close to the tower within 2cm, so might as well you plug your cable with your phone and the tower

  29. Tmobile won’t have to wait if they are allowed to merge with sprint. They’ll have access low and mid band spectrum immediately and roll out high band.

  30. It’s funny how certain radio frequencies are illegal to use even though access doesn’t cause any harm. This planet is a prison planet.

  31. US Government don't need at that bandwidth. US has government satellites for a reason. Tell the government to go back to using Morse Code from a telegraph.

  32. Half baked 5G at full price. It's going to suck. Basically, a way for them to charge us for their infrastructure upgrade.

  33. Access to the network usage of the network and content on the network are all in the power of a few how can we say we are a free speech democracy when you need to pay 3 time to do anything on the network

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