An all–new net­work

The hype starts now, but don’t hold your breath for 5G

Mac|Life - - CONTENTS - BY adam ba nks

When can we likely ex­pect 5G to hit iOS de­vices?

Ap­ple hasn‘t gen­er­ally been in any rush to im­ple­ment new mo­bile data tech­nol­ogy. In 2007, the first iPhone shipped with­out 3G, which al­ready had 200 mil­lion users world­wide. It ar­rived in the fol­low­ing year’s iPhone 3G.

So it’s not sur­pris­ing that while the iPhone XS and XR have very fast 4G chipsets, they’re not ready for 5G, which will be rolling out across the US and many other parts of the world start­ing in 2019. Like 3G and 4G, 5G is an um­brella term that refers to var­i­ous faster wire­less net­works, and it‘s still very much a work in progress.

The In­ter­na­tional Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion Union‘s pro­gram for next–gen­er­a­tion cel­lu­lar, IMT–2020, calls for a first phase of 5G in March 2019, so ven­dors can start rolling out ser­vices and see how they per­form in real life, and a fi­nal spec­i­fi­ca­tion a year later. As seen with Wi–Fi stan­dards, wait­ing for it to get signed off won’t stop prod­ucts com­ing out in the mean­time.

Be­sides in­creas­ing data trans­fer speed, 5G de­vel­op­ment is fo­cus­ing on re­duc­ing la­tency, or lag. If a web page or video loads smoothly, the fact that it started af­ter a tiny de­lay won‘t bother you much. But for real–time tasks like con­trol­ling ro­bots and ‘in­ter­net of things’ de­vices — whether out­doors, at home, or in­side fac­to­ries and ware­houses — low la­tency may be cru­cial. For iOS users, it’ll also ex­pand the pos­si­bil­i­ties for on­line gam­ing and aug­mented re­al­ity (AR).

Ini­tially, some car­ri­ers will pig­gy­back 5G on 4G in­fra­struc­ture us­ing ‘non–stand­alone’ (NSA) de­ploy­ment, be­fore mov­ing to full 5G. That process not only means up­grad­ing ex­ist­ing cell tow­ers but in­stalling more ac­cess points, a process that could be held up by zon­ing per­mis­sions as well as tech.

In short, ex­pect 5G to be big in 2020, but we may not see it in fall 2019’s iPhone hard­ware. Any chance of Ap­ple turn­ing early adopter could rest on how quickly roll­out pro­gresses in ur­ban China.

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