News Feature | January 29, 2019

The Week In 5G: 1/29/2019 – Samsung Alters 5G Plans, U.S. Pressures Allies To Block Huawei

By Jof Enriquez,
Follow me on Twitter @jofenriq


Samsung's first 5G smartphone could be the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, instead of the Samsung Galaxy S10.

Industry pundits had expected that at least one model (dubbed 'Samsung Galaxy S10 X') in the upcoming Galaxy S10 range will be previewed at Samsung's ‘Unpacked’ event on Feb. 20. A new report from T3, citing tipster Evan Blass, now says Samsung will likely feature three 4G LTE models at the event: the Samsung Galaxy S10E, S10, and S10+.

Consumers reportedly will have to wait a few more months for Samsung's first 5G phone. According to T3, Samsung is still working on its brand new 7nm Exynos 9825 processor, which will be launched in the second half of this year. The 5G-integrated chip will then power the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 handset, set for an August 2019 release. 

Samsung and other Android OEMs, including OnePlus and Huawei, have promised to launch 5G phones in 2019. Even lesser-known Android manufacturers, like the Chinese company Nubia, have confirmed they are launching 5G handsets this year, reported Gizmo China.

Apple, on the other hand, won't be doing so until 2020, mainly because it is waiting on its supplier Intel's 5G modems. Apple users this year will have to choose between getting a new 4G LTE iPhone and one of those 5G Android handsets.

While 5G phones will feature cutting-edge technology, first-time users may not notice drastic improvements, as "initial 5G speeds aren’t going to be that different from gigabit LTE speeds, so the first 5G smartphone buyers will be a part of the gradual ramping up to higher speeds in urban areas over the next few years," reported Digital Trends. For this year at least, "most consumers likely won’t regret holding off on 5G mobile purchases" since iPhones offer superior battery life, and most users in 2019 will likely stick to traditional social media browsing and video calling.

Still, 5G is about 200 times faster than LTE, and its lower latency will open up new possibilities and experiences consumers never had before, such as seamless virtual reality gaming, factory robots, remote surgery, and self-driving cars, just to name a few use cases. Ultimately, 5G technology could kill cloud computing, as well.

"Initially, 5G will make it easier for these devices to communicate in real time with centralized cloud-computing networks. Longer term, blazing-fast wireless networks have the potential to eliminate the cloud as a computing platform," writes Forbes contributor Jon Markman. A post-cloud world would involve billions of autonomous smart devices. They would process and act on the data they collect at the edge of the network, in real time."

5G will be so revolutionary to our daily life in the future that world powers China and the United states now are locked in a sort of technology battle for control of 5G networks. The U.S. has exerted increasing pressure on allies to follow its ban on Huawei, which is accused of being a spy for Beijing via the equipment that makes up an increasing number of 5G networks around the world.

Poland is the latest American ally being pressured to toe the line. Polish authorities recently made two-high profile arrests, one of which was an employee of Huawei. Those actions may not be enough. According to the New York Times, "Trump officials suggested that future deployments of American troops — including the prospect of a permanent base labeled “Fort Trump” — could hinge on Poland’s decision" to ban Huawei and other Chinese manufacturers.

According to NYT, "The administration is warning allies that the next six months are critical. Countries are beginning to auction off radio spectrum for new, 5G cellphone networks and decide on multibillion-dollar contracts to build the underlying switching systems" that Huawei is installing for a growing list of countries.

FCC this week just completed its first of several high-band 5G spectrum auctions. The auction covered the 38 GHz band, which netted $702 million, reported Fortune. The U.S. regulator is expected to raise substantially more dollars in future auctions of millimeter wave 24, 37, 39, and 47 GHz spectrum bands.

Besides making available more spectrum, FCC has ordered fixed pricing and streamlined small cell fee installations to fast-track 5G deployment. Cities and municipalities cried foul over the decision, which they say impinged on their autonomy to levy local fees, and slashed costs for carriers. Local councils and watchdog groups have cited studies and opinions of scientists who claim that 5G and electromagnetic field exposure pose a grave health risk to humans, and that FCC's decisions are in favor of the telecommunications industry, according to Interesting Engineering.

Moreover, a report from Extreme Tech says FCC has been accused of colluding with telcos to rig 5G rules. The head of the House Commerce Committee, Frank Pallone (NJ-D), has reportedly sent a letter to FCC chairman Ajit Pai asking for more information on how FCC and licensees communicated to carry out the agency's ruling to accelerate 5G deployment.

"It has come to our attention that certain individuals at the FCC may have urged companies to challenge the Order the Commission adopted to game the judicial lottery procedure and intimated the agency would not look favorably towards entities that were not helpful. If true, it would be inappropriate for the FCC to leverage its power as a regulator to influence regulated companies to further its agenda in seeking a more friendly court," the letter stated.

The report said that FCC's ruling prompted carriers to file complaints in multiple circuit courts. To consolidate the suits, a lottery was held to hear these cases, which was sent eventually to the Tenth Circuit — allegedly a more government-friendly venue than other courts, particularly, California’s Ninth Circuit.

Meanwhile, German regulator Bundesnetzagentur said it has received applications from four telcos to bid in its controversial auction slated sometime in the second half of March, according to RCR Wireless. Bundesnetzagentur President Jochen Homann said the final proposal had been revised to accommodate demands from Germany's telcos who have sued the regulator over what they claim are unfair requirements to build out the country's 5G infrastructure.