WiFi in times of 5G – hot or not?
Fibre to the door, 5G (not) at every milk jug, fast Internet for everyone from outer space – that sounds like a dream of the future, but according to full-bodied announcements in the press and advertising, this age has long since dawned. A little reality check on HSIA matters.
The corona crisis has understood how to show us very clearly some limits, even beyond health and social systems. In the consumer society – thanks to just-in-time delivery and real-time supply chains – people are no longer used to waiting. An empty shelf in the supermarket is immediately noticeable and can even lead to panic buying. Now the race for available vaccines is on and the bottlenecks are obvious.
Something similar is happening on the Internet in terms of resources and availability. During the first lockdown time in Europe, online meeting platforms saw no other way than to temporarily throttle or even deactivate the video in conferences, since half the world was working from home and the limits of possible data throughput were being stretched.
But Corona makes visible only the tip of the iceberg. Because bandwidth bottlenecks are not only due to the crisis mode and the shift of large parts of business life to the online rail, but also and above all to the unbroken trend that inexorably brings more and more people, things and data-intensive services online.
While media and advertising already celebrate a new internet speed age, especially with regard to cellular data networks, there is still a major need to catch up in many regions and industries, and we are far from talking about 5G. LTE is currently the standard in Germany, which, strictly speaking, is a kind of 3.9G, as not all requirements of the 4G standard are met. Accordingly, either LTE (iOS) or 4G / LTE (Android) is displayed in the status bar of your mobile phone.
So before we are all on the 5G network, the 3G network will be decommissioned this year. What this means for the owners of older cell phones or contracts in Germany can be read here. An interesting insight into the hurdles in the 5G expansion “in the teenage stage” is offered here: from the sluggish frequency auctions to the high costs and “fake 5G”.
In Austria, a comparison platform checked the data transmission speeds at different times of the lockdown periods and found that the LTE network in particular was affected by the highest fluctuations during the Corona crisis – it was up to 40% slower. The speed of the cable networks fluctuated less, but at an average of 81 Mbps it is well below the 100 Fast Ethernet standard from 1995.
In a highly industrialized country like Germany, the availability of Broadband Internet is still very mixed, as you can see on the map under this link. Click through, zoom in and see how the rural area looks like a patchwork quilt even in the immediate vicinity of large cities.