New “Network 2030” Group Asks: What Comes After 5G?

The ITU focus group wants to make sure the backbone of every network can support future demand for data

4 min read
Graphical Illustration of internet network
Illustration: iStockphoto

If you listen to the hype about 5G, with its promises of self-driving vehicles and immersive virtual reality, it doesn’t take long to realize how much data the coming generation of wireless will require. But have engineers been so preoccupied with delivering low-latency networks to feed data-hungry applications that they’ve forgotten about the rest of our vast, tangled telecommunications network? 

That concern has sparked some researchers to start thinking about where all that data will go after it travels from your phone to the nearest cell tower.

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How the FCC Settles Radio-Spectrum Turf Wars

Remember the 5G-airport controversy? Here’s how such disputes play out

11 min read
This photo shows a man in the basket of a cherry picker working on an antenna as an airliner passes overhead.

The airline and cellular-phone industries have been at loggerheads over the possibility that 5G transmissions from antennas such as this one, located at Los Angeles International Airport, could interfere with the radar altimeters used in aircraft.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images
Blue

You’ve no doubt seen the scary headlines: Will 5G Cause Planes to Crash? They appeared late last year, after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration warned that new 5G services from AT&T and Verizon might interfere with the radar altimeters that airplane pilots rely on to land safely. Not true, said AT&T and Verizon, with the backing of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which had authorized 5G. The altimeters are safe, they maintained. Air travelers didn’t know what to believe.

Another recent FCC decision had also created a controversy about public safety: okaying Wi-Fi devices in a 6-gigahertz frequency band long used by point-to-point microwave systems to carry safety-critical data. The microwave operators predicted that the Wi-Fi devices would disrupt their systems; the Wi-Fi interests insisted they would not. (As an attorney, I represented a microwave-industry group in the ensuing legal dispute.)

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