There's a little bit of 4G in your 5G, and other reasons why that 5G icon on your phone is going to suck

By geezywap at 2019-05-11 • 0 collector • 286 pageviews

As the wireless industry likes to say, "5G is here" — from manufacturers with 5G capable phones, carriers with 5G networks, and the users who want to feel like they're on the bleeding edge because they're enjoying super-fast speeds. But that little "5G" icon in the status bars on their shiny new phones may not represent all the progress they've been promised.

For one, that icon may appear even when their handsets are actually communicating over 4G LTE. More importantly, real 5G speeds may not live up to the hype of gigabit marketing because of the differences in the types of 5G service that exist.

Let's get through the marketing points first and start with AT&T. Back in October 2017, it started branding some of its cellular coverage as "5G Evolution" service. In truth, that service was based on 4G and a series of LTE-Advanced technologies. But when it came to putting it onto phones, the carrier decided to designate it as "5G E." Sprint considered that nothing more than a vagary that would confuse consumers and sued AT&T in February this year before settling in April.

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AT&T and Verizon each have a real 5G network running right now, both of them on millimeter wave spectrum that can provide gigabit throughput potential in small venues like arenas. transit centers, or a central business district. The former is calling its iteration "5G+," saving "5G" for its future low-band 5G network, while Big Red is going for "5G Ultra Wideband" or, on phones, the unwieldy "5G UWB." Last month, Verizon took the media on a tour of its 5G UWB networks in Chicago and Minneapolis. Journalists noted that the network indicator typically stayed on "4G LTE," only displaying "5G UWB" sparingly and very briefly each time.

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