AT&T has announced that they are striving to begin a limited roll out of their upcoming 5G network by the end of the year, claiming that you may see speeds of up to 100x that of 4G LTE.
This would be wonderful news to us and worthy of staying into contracts, if it were true. We remain skeptical however, since those of us here who make use of AT&T’s network don’t even see proper 4G speeds. It’s been a few months since we have done a speed test for AT&T. We took 4 phones of various OS (all new within the last year or two) across the Las Vegas (NV) valley to see what we get.
Our average speed in most locations fell between 1.25 and 2.5Mbps. Now, with speeds like that, you are looking at no difference between 4G and the previous 3G and 3G HSDPA speeds. In just a few locations we saw between 4-6Mbps. 4G LTE is supposed to be capable of top/peak downstream speeds of up to 50Mbps. Keeping in mind, to be reasonable, you never find your way to the peak speed on any network (but you should be able to find yourself reaching at least half way, right?). AT&T’s network simply isn’t strong enough to hold as many subscribers as they have and still deliver that premium speed you think you are paying for.
You spend all this money for a speedy connection and AT&T (and all other major networks) have spent all the time promoting the use of WiFi networks. Of course they want you on WiFi because you are no longer gobbling up their data (because they can’t keep up with the string on their network). We have had many discussions with consumers where they mention they tend never to do anything that consumes data unless there is WiFi available. So why pay for a data plan at all then? Meanwhile, you are still being charged an insane fee for something you are too afraid to use because of overage or throttling. It’s like buying an expensive sports car, but then being told “oh, but you can’t go further than 2 miles with it, else we will bill you additional charges–and we are limiting the 600HP (horsepower) it is capable of, to 150HP and 10MPH governed speed”.
When the first few generation 4G phones (ie, HTC Evo) reached the market, we were seeing speeds much greater than we see today on 4G. It didn’t take long for this number to crash as more consumers moved away from 3G-only phones. Not to mention, the first few generation phones will probably have the same battery drain issues as 4G did as well. This means that you are most likely going to want to give it time to see how it pans out as the first phones roll out to support it. Don’t jump on the bandwagon too fast, as you don’t want phones that are going to die after 4-6 hours.
My prediction, is that 5G will more than likely suffer the same outcome. A brief time of “wow, look at this speed, it is amazing” for the lucky few, and then come crashing down to speeds that are at least (hopefully) better than the average 4G LTE speeds we get now. Meanwhile, the prices will remain high–or even higher knowing these companies.
I can’t forget to point out the limited monthly plans they are offering in the GBs and the insane throttling they keep getting away with for what few unlimited plans are still floating around. If you really were able to take the speed to up to 100x that of 4G LTE, users will be hitting their monthly limits before the thought even crosses their mind. “Hey look! I can do this, and this and that! This is so fast, no lag, nothing. This is gre….what do you mean I went 3x over my monthly limit already???”.
Now for some personal thoughts! I challenge the nation’s biggest networks to finally get us out of the mind numbing evolutionary crawl, and deliver something that is going to give us a giant boost into the future of things. Do this while making it affordable, and the market is yours. Maybe you can ask Mr. Elon Musk for some assistance in doing things right the first time, and not milking the entire industry along the way, slowing down our evolutionary advances in exchange for profit and greed. Can’t the investors and higher-ups take a little break at squeezing all the profits into their pockets in exchange for a giant leap for mankind?
My fingers really are crossed. All of our fingers here are crossed, because we would all love to see something knock our socks off when it comes to bandwidth and technology.