The Promise of 5G

We already know that the new frequencies intended for 5G have issues with range and penetration, but I had no idea that these issues are bad enough that you cannot cover a football stadium:

Verizon yesterday announced that its 5G service is available in 13 NFL stadiums but said the network is only able to cover “parts” of the seating areas. Verizon 5G signals will also be sparse or non-existent when fans walk through concourses and other areas in and around each stadium.

The rollout of 5G is more complicated than the rollout of 4G was because 5G relies heavily on millimeter-wave signals that don’t travel far and are easily blocked by walls and other obstacles. While Verizon is trying to build excitement around 5G, its announcement for availability in NFL stadiums carried several caveats.

“Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service will be available in areas of the [13] stadiums,” Verizon said. “Service will be concentrated in parts of the seating areas but could be available in other locations in and around the stadium as well.”

Notice the phrase “could be available” in that last sentence. Verizon isn’t promising any 5G coverage outside the seating areas, and the seating-area coverage will only be available in some sections.

There are some properties of 5G that are not dependent on using millimeter wave signals, like reduced latency, which makes a big difference for gamers, but none are game changers.

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